In our opinion there is nothing worse than reaching the departure lounge just to see the dreaded word 'delayed' next to your flight number - especially if it's the early hours of the morning and you have a tired toddler to keep happy!

So, what is departure delay and what cover can you expect from your travel insurance? In terms of travel insurance, departure delay refers to your transport i.e. flight, ferry or cruise ship being delayed, through no fault of your own, beyond your scheduled departure time.

What does Departure Delay cover?

Industrial action, adverse weather or a mechanical fault will all cause havoc to travel schedules and could mean you are sat in the departure lounge for hours on end.

If your departure is delayed, there are two options available under travel insurance; trip disruption and trip cancellation.

Trip disruption will cover a small amount of compensation for each block of set time you are delayed (usually every full 12 hours you are delayed, although you can also get policies which will pay out for every full 6 hours) – provided you have checked in on time! Trip disruption is designed to cover additional expenses such as food and refreshments.

Trip cancellation will cover any pre-paid holiday costs that are not refundable from another source if you decide to not travel or cancel your trip following a 24-hour delay.

Is Departure Delay covered under my travel insurance?

The majority of travel insurance policies will cover for departure delay but be sure to check your policy wording carefully before purchasing as the level of cover available can differ a lot between insurers.

Will the airline compensate me if my departure is delayed?

Before contacting your travel insurer, it is worth checking if your airline provider will provide alternative transport arrangements or compensation if the delay is caused by inadequate turnaround times, poorly organised flight plans or a technical fault caused by the airline.

The Civil Aviation Authority state if you are travelling out of the EU or on an EU airline you will be entitled to compensation from the airline following a delay of three hours or more – although amounts will differ depending on the length of flight (in kilometres) – as long as the delay wasn’t caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

An ‘extraordinary circumstance’ is clarified by the CAA as an occurrence outside of the airline control and despite the airline taking reasonable measures, would still delay the flight. For example; adverse weather or strike action.

How do I claim for Departure Delay?

Provided you have checked-in on time and have obtained written confirmation from the travel company outlining the scheduled departure time, length of delay and reason of delay, you are eligible to submit a claim under either trip disruption or trip cancellation.

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