There’s a good chance that you will eventually have to deal with a flight delay or cancellation at some point during your life. This is particularly true if you’re one of the many people who travel frequently for work or spends a lot of time in the air visiting family members. The first thing you need to know if your plane doesn’t turn up on time is that you do have rights as a passenger – even if you feel completely helpless.

No matter where you live, airlines and transportation departments lay out guidelines for how companies need to serve their customers if their flight is waylaid. The following tips could help you to get onto the next flight as quickly as possible if your original plane gets canceled.

Step 1: Speak to Someone

The first thing you need to do is get to the bottom of why your flight was canceled or delayed. If you’re already at the airport, you can try speaking to an airline representative, although there’s likely to be a long line as many of the other passengers that were meant to be on the same plane as you will want the very same answers. Ideally, you should try downloading the airline’s app to your phone to get a better chance of interacting with someone now, or you can try messaging the company on social media.

Step 2: Take Advantage of your Status

A lot of airline programs for loyal customers include a special number that you can call as a loyal miles member. If you have that number, then now’s the time to take advantage of it. If you’re not already a member of your favorite airline, then you could always join up while you’re waiting to talk to an agent. Most memberships are free, and it could mean that you get moved up in the queue when the airline is looking for new flights to placate its customers with.

Step 3: Do Some Research

While you’re online sending emails to your boss, or looking for a customer rep that you can talk to on Twitter, it makes sense to do some quick research too. Find the next flight that’s available to your chosen destination, and get as much information as you can about it – including whether there might be any spare seats. This will make it easier for you to negotiate a new ticket with your rep when the time comes to speak to an agent. You can even look at flights available from competing airlines. Some carriers will be willing to book you onto a flight with a rival for no additional cost.

Step 4: Be Flexible

When your airline has let you down, it’s tempting to be stubborn and hold your ground until they find a way to fix their mistake. Unfortunately, this could mean that you end up waiting longer to get to your desired destination. On the other hand, if you’re willing to be a little more creative and flexible, then you may end up with a better overall experience. Ask to find out whether the situation might be better at a different airport. If you’re willing to take a cab or your airline will pay for transport for you, moving to a different airline to grab a plane might not be a big deal.

Step 5: Keep your Cool

Cancellations and long delays can easily test the patience of even the politest passengers, but it’s important to do everything you can to keep yourself cool and collected. At the end of the day, the people who are going to get the brunt of your anger – the airline representatives and sales assistants – probably didn’t have anything to do with causing your predicament. Instead, they’re simply there to help you find the quickest solution to the issue that has presented itself. If you’re particularly polite, then you might find that your rep actually pulls additional strings for you, like getting you a bump up to first class.

Step 6: Always Pack Light

If you’re carrying a huge suitcase with you when your flight is canceled or delayed, and you’ve already checked it in, then you’ve got another thing to worry about. Not only do you need to figure out how you’re going to get to your destination as quickly as possible, but you need to get your bag back too. If you can travel light, you’ll be in a far more flexible position when something goes wrong.