Recent events at Gatwick Airport have jeopardised Christmas travel plans for thousands of people and as temperatures continue to drop passengers heading abroad for some much needed winter-sun may be concerned about the cover available if the weather affects their travel plans.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority, weather conditions which hinder the flights safety are classed as an extraordinary circumstance. If a flight is delayed or cancelled due to adverse weather, passengers will not be entitled to claim compensation from the airline.
Having said this, if passengers are flying to or from an EU airport with an EU-based airline and have been delayed for more than five hours, and no longer wish to travel, they are entitled to a full refund of their air fare. If passengers still wish to reach their holiday destination, the airline must rebook seats on the next available flights and depending on the length of delay, provide refreshments, accommodation (if delayed overnight) and free telephone calls.
In the event of a delay that is announced after passengers have check-in, most travel insurance policies will offer a small amount of compensation for each set block of time delayed. For example; £50 for every 12-hour block passengers are delayed up to a total amount. Some travel insurance policies will begin offering compensation after 6 hours, and the amount available may vary so bear this in mind when looking for a policy – particularly during the winter months. Read more about delays here.
After a 24-hour delay, most travel insurers will offer ‘abandonment cover’ and refund the cost of the holiday if passengers decide they no longer wish to travel. Some policies offer this cover after a 12-hour delay and may also cover pre-paid expenses such as car hire, theme-park tickets and kennel fees, so something to keep an eye out for when buying travel insurance.
If flights are cancelled, passengers who are flying to or from an EU airport with an EU-based airline are either entitled to a full refund of any unused air tickets or the opportunity to be rerouted. The airline must book passengers on the next available flight, or if another airline is due to fly considerable sooner transfer the passenger to that flight.
Those flying outside of the EU or on a non-EU airline should bear in mind that the regulations for cancelled or delayed flights will vary between airlines. Most airlines should offer either a refund or alternative travel arrangements but it is best to check with the individual company.
Although flights may be rebooked, the travel date is likely to change meaning passengers will lose a day or days of their holiday and be left out of pocket for pre-paid expenses such as accommodation or car hire. There are a few travel insurance policies that will offer to cover these expenses, if they cannot be claimed back from elsewhere, so this may be something to consider when review your cover.
Occasionally, when the weather takes a turn, it is the journey to the airport that ruins a holiday. Motorways can be chaos at the best of times but in adverse weather the likelihood of accidents, traffic jams and slower driving conditions greaten.
Most travel insurance polices will offer to cover for missed connections if the car passengers are travelling in breaks down or is involved in an accident or if public transport is disrupted but will not offer cover for missed departure due to traffic delays, including those due to adverse weather. If this is a concern, there are a few travel insurers out there that will offer this cover, provided the passenger left significant time to reach the airport AND the traffic delay was not announced before they set off to the airport. For more on missed departure, click here.