Flight Canceled Or Delayed? Here's How You Can Get A Refund On Your Hotel

There's a sense of relief that comes with stepping off the plane at your intended destination: You finally made it through the first leg of the trip, which is often the most stressful. That said, even with a detailed checklist in tow, travel hiccups can occur that are out of your control. Whether or not you're a seasoned traveler, there's only so much you can do if your flight is canceled or delayed — but doing your research ahead of time, purchasing travel insurance, and staying on speaking terms with your destination hotel are some of your best bets.

Extreme weather conditions, staff shortages, and maintenance issues are just a few common reasons a flight might be delayed or outright canceled. While securing a seat on the next flight is the best-case scenario, the truth is that airline woes can sometimes cause you to cancel a trip entirely. This will likely put a dent in your wallet: Hotel stays are an investment and can be among the most pricey expenses of a trip after the flight itself.

In the event that a flight is canceled or delayed, receiving reimbursement for the missed stay at your destination is a priority. There are several steps you can take to ensure you get a refund on a canceled hotel reservation — some of which should happen long before you hit the "Book Your Flight" button.

Plan ahead by understanding cancellation policies and travel insurance

No traveler wants to think about skipping a relaxing getaway, but planning for the worst may ultimately save you money. Firstly, avid travelers and travel experts alike concur that buying comprehensive travel insurance is a good idea. Prices vary, but analysis from Forbes Advisor suggests an average travel insurance cost of $228 for a $5,000 trip. Less expensive trips will be cheaper to cover.

Opting for a plan with "cancel for any reason" benefits is the best option because these plans typically cover compensation for "unexpected" causes of trip cancellations, including airline issues. Shelling out an extra couple hundred dollars on top of regular expenses may feel like an unnecessary cost, but protecting your trip in the long run is worth it.

Secondly, do your research when it comes to lodging; read reviews posted by other travelers on third-party sites, Reddit, Trip Advisor, or Google. This can help you determine which accommodations have the best cancellation policies. While this might seem obvious, read the policy's fine print — yes, all the text you feel tempted to skip — for any unique caveats that may make securing repayment more difficult. For example, a hotel may consider prepaid rooms only partially refundable, or completely nonrefundable if the cancellation occurs within a certain timeframe. If you don't feel confident planning your own trip, a travel agent can help you work through all the "what-if" scenarios, as well as select the best travel insurance plans and hotels.

Steps to take after your flight is canceled

So your trip has been axed due to a flight cancellation or delay despite all your preparation: What's the next step? Accommodation expenses aren't typically something your airline owes you when your flight is canceled, so immediately contacting the hotel's front desk is the best bet for getting your money back. Similarly, give your travel insurance provider a timely ring and make sure their provisions for cancellation or delay time cover your situation. To make the process run more smoothly, have any and all documents on hand that show your flight was canceled or delayed and outline the expenses you are hoping to have reimbursed. Requesting documentation from the airline can assist you in communicating with the hotel or your insurance carrier.

If you have opted to work with a travel agent, some of them may even be able to provide guidance throughout the process of requesting and receiving compensation for a canceled trip. It's important to note that the reimbursement process for canceled hotel stays can be lengthy — no matter which avenue you pursue to try to recoup the funds from a missed stay. While flight cancellations and delays can be disappointing, planning ahead and communicating quickly can give you a little more peace of mind.