On June 5th Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain officially severed ties to Qatar due to the nation’s ‘embrace of various terrorist groups’.
As a result the Gulf countries have cut air and sea traffic to Qatar. A range of airline carriers including Etihad, Air Arabia and flydubai have halted services to Qatar, and Qatar airways in turn has suspended flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
Those affected will include passengers travelling between Qatar and countries like Egypt, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
how will the qatar flight ban affect aussie travellers?
Currently only passengers booked to travel both to and from Qatar are likely to be affected by the flight delays. Impacted travellers have been offered refunds on unused tickets and opportunities to rebook to alternative destinations.
Qatar Airways has stated that passengers booked to travel on a cancelled flight will have alternate transportation arranged on another flight (either on Qatar Airways or another carrier depending on the circumstances) or will be offered a refund.
Travellers may also be entitled to compensation and care at the airport, which in some circumstances may include overnight accommodation.
Airlines which have called a ban on Qatari airlinks, such as Emirates, have also arranged compensatory measures.
Emirates airlines said, “All customers booked on Emirates’ flights to and from Doha will be provided with alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and rebooking to the nearest alternate Emirates destinations.”
what if i'm booked to fly with qatar?
Prior to leaving for the airport, Australians planning to travel with Qatar Airways should check to see if their flight is running as schedule. Passengers can also seek information on the official Qatar airways refund portal: https://refundsapp1.blueivysync.com/refund_form/customer-refund.html.
Natalie Ball, director Comparetravelinsurance.com.au advises:
"In such circumstances, your first point of call would be to speak to the airline directly. If your flight is cancelled it should be the airline’s responsibility to issue you with a refund or provide you with alternative compensation.”
Can affected travellers claim on travel insurance?
Those affected by the flight cancellations may be eligible to claim for their costs provided they purchased travel insurance before news of the airspace closure hit the mass media.
“If your airline denies you compensation you may have provision to claim for prepaid expenses and lost deposits. Keep in mind that your claim would be assessed on a case by case scenario. You would also not have provision to claim unless you bought your policy prior to this event hitting the widespread media.”
Travellers should note that the vast majority of insurers would not pay a cancellation that arises from delays or rescheduling by a bus line, airline, shipping line or rail authority.
“While we cannot speak on behalf of all insurers, we can suggest that there may be some provision here to claim on some out of pocket expenses for accommodation and lost deposits. However, it’s always best to contact your insurer directly and find out where they stand on this particular issue.”
Missed flights and travel insurance
Plenty of confusion surrounds missed flights and where passengers stand in terms of compensation. In a nutshell, you would be covered if you missed your flight for an insured reason as listed below.
When you are covered:
If you’ve missed your flight and neither you nor your airline can be blamed you could potentially have a successful claim on your hands. You would be covered if:
- You are involved in a car, rain, bus or marine accident and cannot get to the airport in time for your flight.
- You can’t make your plane due to a natural disaster, severe weather, hijacking, riots or civil unrest. The event must have begun after the insurance policy was issued.
- You are ill or injured and a doctor informs your insurer that you are unfit to get on a plane. You will require this notice to be in writing and the illness or injury in question cannot be due to a pre-existing condition.
What’s not covered:What's not covered:
When the delay is caused by your airline: Mechanical faults, delays or overbooking on your flight should all be compensated for by your airline.
You’re late and don’t make it to your gate on time. Unfortunately, tardiness is not an insurable event
You are offered compensation or an alternative flight by your airline and you decline it.
You’ve upgraded your flight. If you miss your flight due to a covered event such as a car accident, you would not be eligible for a first class or business ticket if you hadn’t originally booked the upgrade (unless those are the only available seats).
Travel delays can be incredibly stressful and hugely disappointing for those anticipating their travels or journeying home. For holidaymakers looking to salvage some of their costs when disaster strikes Ball recommends taking out travel insurance well before their trip.
Ball concludes: “In the event of a flight delay or cancellation our advice would be to keep any additional expenses to a reasonable minimum and hang on to your receipts. If you haven’t bought travel cover we would strongly advise you to do so in the future. True to Smarttraveller’s mantra, ‘if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.’ ”
Further information on Qatar airways flight status can be found on the airline's website: https://qatarairways.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/sections/201161488-Travel-Alerts.