Are Flight Cancellations Covered in Travel Insurance?

Airport and air traffic controller strikes have been major news stories over recent weeks and months and we’ve found that a lot of our travel insurance customers are unclear of their rights and travel insurance coverage when it comes to compensation for flight cancellations and curtailments. 

With this in mind, below we’ve outlined what your entitlements are in terms of flight cancellations and curtailments both from the airline in question and from your travel insurance provider.

Are You Entitled to Compensation From the Airline for Flight Cancellations?

Delays:

In instances where you are more than three hours late arriving at your destination you should be entitled to compensation provided the airline cannot prove that the delay was as a result of extraordinary circumstances, take the Eyjafjallajokull volcano ash cloud in 2010 for example.   Even then they are legally bound to provide you with “care and assistance” such as meals and hotel accommodation corresponding to your waiting time plus up to two phone calls, emails or faxes if required.

The amount of compensation you’re entitled to will depend on whether your flight is short, medium or long hauls as classified below:

  • Short haul: 1500km or less is €250 pp
  • Medium haul: 1500km – 3500km and all EU flights over 3500km is €400 pp
  • Long haul: 3500km or more is €600 pp

 If an airline can offer rerouting to the final destination that does not exceed:

  •  two hours for flights of less than 1500km;
  • three hours for flights between 1500km and 3500km; and
  • four hours for flights over 3500km

 the compensation will be reduced by 50%.

Should the airline fail to organize refreshments, accommodation and transport arrangements for you following a delay, be sure to hang on to your receipts for all reasonable expenses you incur. (Lobster, caviar and Cristal champagne won’t be seen as reasonable, nor will a stay at Dubai’s 7 star, Burj Al Arab!) You should then send your receipts into the airline without delay to receive your refund. Some carriers require the original receipts so make sure to keep copies.

In cases where your flight is delayed by more than five hours, you’re entitled to a full refund should you decide to cancel your travel plans.

Cancellations:

When it comes to cancellation your entitlement and compensation will vary depending on when you were informed of the cancellation.

The airline must provide at least two weeks notice to avoid paying compensation and they must then offer either:

  • an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity or at a later date of your choice subject to the availability of seats; or
  • a full refund of the ticket.

If you have been given between two weeks and seven days’ notice the airline must offer a choice between:

  • an alternative flight departing no more than two hours before your original departure time and allowing arrival at your final destination within fours hours of the original scheduled time of arrival;

        or

  • a full refund of the ticket.

Less than seven days notice requires the airline to offer the choice between:

  • an alternative flight departing no more than one hour before your original departure time and allowing arrival within two hours of the original scheduled time of arrival; or
  • a full refund of the ticket.
  • Airlines are entitled to offer a passenger comparable transport to the final destination if no alternative flight with the carrier is available.

(Information accurate as at 20/03/14 and sourced via:  http://www.aviationreg.ie/air-passenger-rights/cancellation.209.html)

When can I claim on my travel insurance?

It’s always, always advisable to have travel insurance in place and when deciding what cover to take out be sure to read the fine print regarding cancellation and curtailment. Reviewing our own AA travel insurance book, cancellations are the second most common claim type we receive.

Compare how much your policy will cover you for if you have to cancel or cut short your trip due to unforeseen circumstances such as an accident. With AA Travel Insurance for example we offer cancellation cover for up to €6,000 per policyholder.

You should also check what is and isn’t covered. Most policies will cover the same items as standard e.g. sudden illness or injury of you or an immediate family member but don’t assume all policies are the same.

Items to look out for are cover against:

  • A natural disaster at your home or destination
  • Redundancy
  • Cancellation of your leave by your employer
  • Jury service
  • A declaration of bankruptcy by your tour operator or airline
  • Unforeseen delays getting to the airport such as the mechanical failure of your vehicle/public transport strike etc.
  • Strike or industrial action, with AA Travel Insurance for example you are covered provided that your policy was purchased in advance of strike dates being announced.

To get an AA Travel Insurance quote today click