Last month British Airways sufferered a catastrophic technical outage which resulted in delays for 75,000 passengers. Some were stranded in terminals while others were days late for their holidays.This large-scale flight failure was preceded weeks earlier by a passport outage in Australia and New Zealand, delaying hundreds more passengers.
What are passengers entitled to when there's a flight delay?In terms of flight delays caused by technical outages, it is the airline’s responsibility to compensate travellers. If the delay is within the airline’s control (due to mechanical or crewing issues) the airline will either book you on another scheduled service as soon as space is available or give you a refund.
Unlike the European model (where passengers are entitled to compensation in the event of a flight delay) Australian airlines are not necessarily obligated to account for the care of delayed passengers. However Virgin and Qantas will provide reasonable meal and accommodation costs until travellers reach their final destination.
In light of the catastrophic delays seen at Heathrow airport, it is unlikely travellers will see their costs covered for some time which is where travel insurance may be of assistance.
In the case of the recent British Airways system meltdown, the airline announced that it would not reimburse passengers to travel with another carrier in accordance with their terms and conditions. The majority of Australian airlines will offer you a refund for a delayed or cancelled flight, but are unlikely to pay upfront for you to travel with an alternative carrier.
can passengers book with another airline to complete their journey then claim back the expense from the original airline?
What do you do if you have connecting flights with another airline?Should you have a connecting flight to catch, it would be your airline’s responsibility to find you the fastest alternative flight to meet your connection. However, if no alternative flights are available, forcing you to book with a different carrier, it is uncertain whether you would receive due compensation from the original carrier. This is where travel insurance may come to the rescue. If you have a comprehensive policy and have a planned event to reach, travel insurance will often reimburse you for the cost of alternative transport to reach your event on time.
What preventative measures can you take to lessen the impact of flight delays?
For events such as these, our best advice would be to invest in a travel insurance policy. In chaotic circumstances, it’s worth knowing that some travel insurance policies would in fact cover you for cancellation fees and lost deposits in the event of technical outages.
Travellers on route to meet a connecting flight or attend a pre-booked event may also be eligible to claim for alternative travel expenses to reach their planned event on time.
Natalie Ball, director of Comparetravelinsurance.com.au says,
“A comprehensive policy will often cover your alternative travel expenses to reach a planned event on time if your scheduled transport is delayed or cancelled. If you’re still unable to make it, you may be able to seek reimbursement of your travel arrangements, such as prepaid event tickets and accommodation under Cancellation and Lost Deposits. Be aware however, that such claims would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
Where connecting flights are involved, it’s also a good idea to book each leg of your journey with the same airline where possible to allow easier rescheduling in circumstance like this.
Consumers should also be mindful that the type of cover they purchase would make all the difference. For instance, a basic, medical-only, policy wouldn’t help you out in this instance.
top tip:Remember that some policies will be more favourable than others when it comes to missed flights. So take a look at your policy documentation (or give your insurer a call) to check their cover.
What do you need to have ready to claim for missed flights?
-Proof proof proof: If you experience delays or cancellation of any sort you will always need written proof of the cancellation or delay from the airline.
-Contact your insurer: Before you go ahead and pay for any extra accommodation or flights check in with your insurer that they will cover any added costs.
-Alert the relevant authority: If you’re involved in a road traffic accident that stops you from making your flight, make sure you get evidence from the transport authority in that destination.
-Health check: If you cannot travel for health reasons, make sure you get a ‘note’ from your doctor.