Have you ever had that rising feeling of desperation that you are going to miss your flight? Final boarding call. Gate Closed!...Hearing these words at an airport can immediately transform this feeling of desperation into exasperation.
Argghhh! Someone is going to pay for this! Exactly who pays will depend upon firstly, who was at fault for the missed departure and secondly, whether or not you took out comprehensive travel insurance.
There is no clear cut yes or no answer for missed flights being covered by travel insurance, but in a nutshell, you would be covered if you missed your flight for an insured reason. However, if you miss a connecting flight because of travel delays caused by the airline, then you wouldn’t be covered. It is the airlines responsibility to get you on the next flight, rather than your insurer.
Here’s where it gets confusing…
Understanding when you’re covered (and when you’re not) can get a bit fuzzy when two legs of your journey are with different airlines.
If your journey all the way through to your destination is with one carrier – you should be fine. If you miss your connection, the airline will make sure you get on another flight, or they will provide food and accommodation if long delays are expected.
However, if you are booked on two different airlines, and you miss your connecting flight, Housten, you could have a problem! The second airline does not have the responsibility to put you on another flight just because of the first carriers’ delay. And because travel insurance does not cover for missed connections caused by airlines, you might not be covered for the cost to buy a new airline ticket.
So when does travel insurance cover for missed flights?
You’re covered for travel and accommodation expenses if:
- You miss your connecting flight because of a motor vehicle (or rail, bus, marine) accident you’re involved in.
- You miss your flight because of natural disasters, severe weather, hijacking, riots or civil unrest. The event must have begun after the insurance policy was issued.
- A medical practitioner notifies the insurer that you are unfit to continue with your trip. You will need this in writing and it cannot be a pre-existing medical condition unless this was disclosed and covered.
When you are not covered?
When it comes to travel insurance, it is important to know that most policies will not cover delays that are caused by the airline. So you wouldn’t be covered for…
- Mechanical issues, delays or overbooking. The airline should provide compensation in these instances.
- You wouldn’t be covered if you missed your flight because you didn’t leave enough time. This includes traffic on the way to the airport delaying your journey.
- If you are offered compensation or alternative flights by your airline and you do not take them.
- If you miss your flight for a covered event such as severe weather, but you book another flight on a higher class ticket. Your insurance will only cover the cost of the initial ticket price that you booked. So don’t go upgrading yourself too quickly!
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.
- 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.
- If you cannot travel for health reasons, make sure you get a ‘note’ from your doctor.
5 tips to avoid missing flights
With so many fun things to do in life, most of us tend to time our arrival at airports with just enough time to get through security and walk onto the plane. Traveller be warned, it doesn’t take much to set off a domino effect of missed flights and misplaced luggage. It’s no fun running through an airport hearing “Last boarding call for Eugene Wylde”. So here’s some words of wisdom…
- When travelling by plane, assume you’re going to be delayed by traffic, experience long check-in queues or be stopped by security for packing a python in your suitcase.
- If possible, book all flights to your destination with the same airline. That way the airline is obligated to get you on the next flight and/or put you up if long delays are expected.
- If you know you’re likely to miss a connecting flight – call the airline. They might be able to put you on a later flight and then problem solved!
- Do your research – don’t just go with the cheapest option and have to pay later. Look for flights with better connecting times. You might find you’ll only be paying a few dollars more anyway.
- Don’t leave yourself less than 3 hours for a connecting flight, why not enjoy the stop over? Break up the journey and stay overnight rather than leave yourself no time to make the next flight.
- See if you can check your bags all the way through to your final destination, even if you’re flying with different airlines.
If you plan to snooze at the airport, do it at your gate, so if you wake-up at the last minute, you have a chance of getting on board.Travel insurance covers for the unforseen and unavoidable. So make sure that you try your best to avoid any delays or missed connecting flights where you might need to claim. 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.