Delays are an inevitable and thus inescapable part of travel. They're especially galling when your trip is meant to dovetail into a connecting flight or an important meeting.
So how should airlines handle these hiccups in a simple passenger-centric manner?
There are several preflight strategies, such as advising customers as early as possible – in the case of major delays, potentially even before they leave for the airport – and always, always, keeping them informed.
Once the flight lands, you expect to see a ground staff team ready for some 'travel triage' such as directing connecting travellers to their next flight, or in some instances to overnight accommodation if the last onwards flight has already departed.
And there's something else which airlines can do, which I experienced on Air Canada's daily AC34 flight from Sydney to Toronto in mid-February.
This flight was delayed at both ends due to a major winter storm along the Atlantic Coast. On the day I travelled, we left Sydney over five hours after our planned 12.30pm departure.
Fortunately I'd been kept up to date on these delays by Air Canada's SMS alert system, so I left the office early afternoon instead of rocking up for a 9.30am checkin and spending the better part of the day in the airport. And lounge access, even when it's Air New Zealand's Sydney Koru Club Lounge, always softens the blow.
When it finally came time to board the flight, I noticed two Air Canada crew at the gate handing out cards offering delayed travellers a discount on future AC travel.
This goes one step beyond the usual apologies over the inflight PA system.
The discount itself turned out to be a mere 10%, and applies only to bookings made directly with the airline on aircanada.com.
But it's better than nothing, and it's somewhere to start the consideration of what practical steps an airline should take for a seriously delayed flight.
What's your experience, and your expectation, of how airlines should handle major flight delays, especially when it comes to trying to retain your business?