Families attempting to get away over the Easter half term break have been faced with long queues, cancelled flights, and overall travel chaos.

Disruption has been reported at Dover following the suspension of P&O Ferries services and two DSDS vessels being removed from service. The Eurotunnel also reported the “busiest sustained period of traffic” since the pandemic.

Airlines including EasyJet and British Airways have also been forced to cancel several flights.

Limited staff availability and sickness, combined with the removal of travel restrictions and an increased number of travellers, is putting a huge strain on airport and airline operations. Airports across the country are experiencing long queues for check-in desks, security, and, in some cases, delayed or cancelled flights.

But what should you do if you are caught up in this situation? If a flight is cancelled, the first point of call is the airline. Airlines are responsible for rebooking passengers on the next available flight if their scheduled flight cannot go ahead. And, under European legislation, if the original airline is unable to get passengers to the intended destination on the booked date or the day after, travellers can ask to be rebooked with a different airline.

If the airline that the trip was originally booked through is unable to offer an alternative flight and recommends passengers make their own travel arrangements, travellers can reclaim any additional travel costs from the airline, provided they can prove they’ve taken the only available alternative.

Now, it’s worth being aware that airlines are only liable to pay compensation to passengers if they are at fault for the delay or cancellation. However, if the delay or cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, passengers will not be entitled to compensation.

This is where a travel insurance policy could come in handy. Some travel insurance policies may pay a small amount of compensation if travellers are delayed at the airport. If this cover is included in a policy, travellers could receive around £10 per each 12-hours that they are delayed. Of course, amounts and terms will differ between insurers so it’s important to check the policy wording on your particular policy, if you are affected.

Additionally, some travel insurance providers may allow policyholders to abandon their trip and cancel their holiday altogether if they are severely delayed. If this protection is included, it may be under the cancellation section, detailed as ‘cancellation for any cause’. However, this type of protection is not included as standard in travel insurance policies and there may be a specific amount of time that travellers must be delayed before they can abandon their travel plans and claim for cancellation.

Holidaymakers are also able to protect their trips from the unknown by looking for a policy that includes protection against missed departure due to reasons that could not have been expected or foreseen. For example, being caught in heavy traffic on the way to the airport due to a collision that just took place. In most cases, this type of protection should offer cover for alternative transportation for travellers to reach their trip destination if something unexpected causes them to miss their flight.

However, travellers will need to be able to provide evidence that they took all reasonable steps to ensure that they reached the airport on time and that the missed departure was due to something they could not have foreseen.

Now, it’s worth being aware that should mass queues at check-in or border control continue to cause chaos in the days or weeks after the event is first publicised, insurers that offer this protection may deem this as a known event and not class the disruption as ‘unexpected’ or unforeseen, and you would be expected to make allowances for this disruption.

With the chaotic scenes that we have had over the weekend at ports and airports, it yet again highlights the importance of ensuring that you have a travel insurance policy that suits your personal needs.

As always, we’re here to help. So, if you have any travel insurance-related questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us at hello@travelinsuranceexplained.co.uk and we will do our best to assist!