Whatever your thoughts may be on the environmental activism group Extinction Rebellion, you can’t deny they have been making their presence known. Over the past year, protesters have shut down parts of London for days at a time. Earlier this month they successfully disrupted London City Airport by staging ‘sit-ins’ and protests, with one person even managing to climb on top of a British Airways plane. More recently, protesters damaged and delayed DLR and tube services across London during the morning rush hour. Angry commuters responded by dragging protesters from the trains.

The regular disruption to travel is nothing short of a headache for people living, working and commuting in London. Not to mention, it will be causing unnecessary worry for holidaymakers who are due to fly from one of London’s airports. Travelling is usually the most stressful part of a holiday and with the possibility of Extinction Rebellion carrying out further protests which may disrupt flights and transport to the airport, here is what you can do to prepare yourself and how your travel insurance may be able to help.

Travel Tips for Extinction Rebellion Protests
  • Normally, depending on where you are travelling to, it’s recommended to arrive at the airport at least two hours before your scheduled to depart, but if there are protests in the area make sure you leave an hour or so earlier to be on the safe side. Being too early for your flight is preferable to missing it!
  • Security at the airport may be stricter than normal to try to prevent protesters from making it to the departure lounges. Make sure you have your passport and boarding pass to hand and unpack any items such as electronics before getting to the scanners to speed things up.
  • It’s possible that Extinction Rebellion will attempt to block departure gates to stop people getting through, so don’t leave it to the last minute to make it to your gate.
What should I do if my flight is cancelled or delayed?

Your first point of call is your airline. They are responsible for booking you on the next available flight. Under European legislation you will be entitled to a ‘re-route’ option. This means that if your original airline can’t get you to your destination on your booked date or the day after, you can ask to be booked with a different airline.

If your airline doesn’t offer you an alternative flight and advises you to make your own arrangements to reach your destination, you can reclaim your additional travel costs from the original airline, provided you can prove you’ve taken the only available alternative.

Am I entitled to compensation if my flight is cancelled or delayed because of Extinction Rebellion?

Airlines only have to pay compensation to passengers if they are at fault for the delay or cancellation. This situation is classed, by the Civil Aviation Authority, as an extraordinary circumstance meaning it is out of the airlines control and passengers are not entitled to compensation. Other examples of extraordinary circumstances include air traffic control strikes and adverse weather. The airline is however, as mentioned, responsible for re-booking your flight and providing refreshments and overnight accommodation if necessary.

Your travel insurance, on the other hand, may pay a small amount of compensation if you are delayed at the airport. This will usually be around £10 per each 12-hour block you are delayed, but amounts and terms will differ between insurers.

What if I want to cancel my holiday?

If you are unable to find alternative travel arrangements, you may want to cancel your holiday altogether. This may be covered by your travel insurance if you have ‘cancellation for any cause’, but you will need to check the policy wording carefully.

Under these circumstances, most travel insurance policies will off cover for ‘trip abandonment’. If you’re delayed for a substantial amount of time, usually 24 hours (some policies will cover after 12 hours), you will be covered to cancel your holiday.

If you are able to claim for cancellation, your travel insurance policy may also cover any pre-paid expenses such as excursions, car hire costs or accommodation fees that you cannot get back from elsewhere.

What if I don’t want to cancel but I arrive a day or so late – can I claim for the accommodation, car hire etc for the lost days?

Unfortunately not. You might, however, be able to contact the accommodation or car hire provider and explain the situation to them, and they may agree to amend their charges.

Most hotels and car rental companies allow you to reserve the accommodation or vehicle, then you pay for the time you actually used the service when you check out or return the vehicle. If you booked online via an online booking company, they might be able to provide help and assistance as well.

What if the flight cancellations leave me stuck abroad?

If your flight home has been cancelled while you’re still on holiday, you are entitled to meals and accommodation until the airline can get you home. However, there may be other fees to pay due to your delay such as parking fees or kennel costs, which are not usually covered by travel insurance.

However, some policies will have a section called ‘If You Are Delayed Returning to Your Home Country’. If your policy has this section, you may be able to claim for these additional costs.