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What to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled

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You’re at the airport, ready to go and just found out your flight is not leaving on time. What you do next can make the difference between a successful claim for compensation or a refund, and a long night on an uncomfortable airline bench.

To avoid you added pain we have put together some information that will help if you’re stuck at an airport, what you’re covered for, and what you’re not covered for and some added tips.

Step 1: Find out the reason for the flight delay or cancellation

If you think it could be more than just a short period of time, it’s worth finding out some information which can help if you need to make a claim, or claim compensation or a refund against the airline:

  • How long the delay will be; and
  • What is the reason for the delay.

 Traveller tip 1: if you are going to miss your flight because you’re just running late, that’s not an Insured Event. Under World Nomads policies, if an event is not specifically listed as an Insured Event, there is no cover for that event. Always make sure you read your Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for a full description of the coverage, terms, conditions and exclusions that apply.

2. Get it in writing

Ask the service desk to give you evidence of why it was delayed.  Travel insurance covers certain events, so you’ll need to show it was one of these for any claim to be successful. If for example it’s because of bad weather, then ask them to put that in writing for you.  Some of our travellers report service desks have given them proof on letterhead paper at the airport on the spot – and if they can't get their customer service and complaints contact details and initiate contact on the spot

Step 3: Get a refund or get the carrier to reschedule your flight

If you have been out of pocket or incurred expenses because of the delay then your first port of call must be to seek compensation, help to rearrange or reschedule your plans or a refund from the airline or travel providers who have not been able to provide their services to you.  And yes – if you decide to claim against your travel insurance policy for any costs you've incurred, then you’ll need evidence you tried to get a refund first.  If you don’t have evidence, we’ll probably ask you for it which may delay any claim you make. We suggest you approach your airline or travel provider first. 

Note: In Australia you have rights under consumer protection legislation called the consumer guarantee in certain circumstances if your flight is delayed or cancelled. These are enshrined in the Montreal Convention which applies to residents from many countries. You must accept any reasonable alternative options offered by the provider.

Step 4: Keep all your documentation

If you’re still out of pocket after contacting your airline or travel provider for compensation, you can make a claim under your travel insurance.  We will consider all the information available to use and may a decision on your claim.  As part of that process, the more documentation you have to show you have incurred expenses because of a covered event, the more easily and quickly we will be able to determine your claim.

Step 5: Need to know more?

This information may help if things go wrong, and you want to make a claim. All travel insurance plans are different, and cover will vary, depending on what’s happened, your Country of Residence, the plan you choose and any options or upgrades you buy. Your PDS will always have the full details of what you’re covered for.

If you have any further questions about what’s covered and not covered, just ask us.

Note: If your flight has been delayed or cancelled, or you’ve missed your connection, your airline or transport provider should always be your first phone call. You must make every reasonable effort to contact your travel providers as soon as possible to seek compensation or offers to rearrange or reschedule your plans. When applicable you should exercise your rights under consumer protection legislation before deciding to incur additional expenses, change your travel plans or make a claim with us.

Flight delayed or cancelled - What's covered?

You may be covered for reasonable and necessary additional expenses, such as transport and accommodation costs, if:

  • you’re directly involved in a motor vehicle, railway, air or marine accident causing you to miss your flight
  • your flight is delayed due to severe weather, natural disaster, hijacking or strike, including if it causes you to miss a connecting flight.

By ‘reasonable’ we mean the standard of transport or accommodation you were booked to use. If you had an economy class ticket on a flight you’ve missed, you can’t upgrade yourself to business without being able to prove that it was reasonable to do so in the circumstances.

Check your plan’s policy for the benefit limits trip interruption expenses - benefit limits vary between the Standard or Explorer plan

In many cases, if you miss a connection or your flight has been cancelled, your airline may automatically rebook you. Before you travel, download your airline’s app, and refresh that as soon as you realize you’ve got flight issues. The one thing you do not want to rush to do is buy a new flight.

Check out our cancellation travel insurance What’s covered article to find out what you may be covered for in case you need to cancel your trip.

Traveller tip 2: In many cases flight delays or cancellations have been caused due to strike action. If you would like to know what you may be covered for in case a strike leaves you stuck at the airport read our Help Centre article – Does travel insurance cover strikes?

What to know if you’re making a claim for a missed, or delayed flight

If you end up stuck at in an airport due to a cancelled or delayed flight and you intend to make a claim for unexpected and unavoidable expenses. Some documents you may need to submit include:

  • Notice from the travel supplier or carrier confirming the reason, timing and duration of the unexpected event causing the delay, cancellation or interruption; any compensation or offers made to you; and confirmation of your claim and settlement with them, if applicable
  • Evidence of any accident such as documentation from an official body in the country where the accident happened: e.g. a police and/or relevant transport authority report
  • Documentation to confirm your travel itinerary, vouchers or e-tickets
  • Valid documentation from your travel supplier, event organiser or education provider
  • All itemised and receipted expenses.

See our article on how to make a claim for more information.   

What’s not covered

Travel insurance is not designed to cover everything, so take the time to read the terms, conditions, limits and exclusions in the PDS, particularly in the sections of cover that describe cover for 'cancellation' and 'trip interruption' so there are no surprises if you do need to use it.

Remember, if your airline offers you an alternative flight/transport, you are expected to take it, otherwise your cover may also be limited. You will  need receipts for any expenses you plan to claim for.

Here and the main things that aren’t covered:

  • Any expenses for delays, rescheduling or cancellation of scheduled public transport. services arising from reasons within a carrier’s control, including but not limited to maintenance, repairs, schedule changes, service faults, corporate takeover or industrial activity other than a strike (e.g. overbooking or change of schedule). Compensation should be sought directly from the carrier in these situations.
  • Any claim where you haven’t allowed for the minimum check-in or transit time or at least three hours for check-in and transit, whatever is longer OR if your travel provider officially requires more than three hours then you must allow for this.
  • Any reason for the delay or missed flight not listed as a covered event, e.g. you missed your fight because of heavy traffic on the way to the airport.
  • A loss arising from a change of mind, disinclination or reluctance to travel.
  • A loss arising from travelling to, planning to travel to, or choosing to remain in a country or region that is the subject of a ‘Do not travel’ warning issued by the Australian Government (see
  • Delays caused by expected and foreseen events that have been widely covered by the media and through official government channels.
  • Costs that are unnecessary or extravagant.
  • Expenses that are covered by your carrier.

Handy tips if your plans are affected by a delayed or cancelled flight

If you think your travel plans might be affected, you should:  

  1. Contact your airline or tour operator to check if any travel services are affected. 
  2. If you need to change your travel arrangements, contact your airline, accommodation provider, or travel agent for assistance in the first instance. 
  3. Allow more time if you know there are strikes occurring that may cause delays but not prevent you from travelling.
  4. If you can use eGates then do so, as this may give save you time and alleviate further delays for other passengers.
  5. Checking in online in advance of arriving at the airport will also reduce potential waiting times for travellers.
  6. Keep in mind that other ad-hoc events can have further impact on delay times (i.e. weather, increase in passenger numbers etc).

This is only a summary of cover and does not include the full terms, conditions, limits, and exclusions of the policy. You should read your PDS in full, so you understand what is and isn’t covered. If you are unsure about your level of travel cover, please contact us.

Travel Insurance Benefits: how we can take care of you

Trip Cancellation

Protect your trip from unexpected cancellation.

  • Explorer Plan: Unlimited
  • Standard Plan: $5,000
Trip Protection
  • Unexpectedly hospitalised?
  • Travel buddy unfit to travel?
  • Close relative suddenly dies?

We’ve got your back.

Emergency Medical Overseas

Take the pain out of medical costs.

  • Explorer Plan: Unlimited
  • Standard Plan: $5,000,000
Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Need meds quick?
  • Accidentally injured?
  • Suddenly sick?

We’ve got your back.

Emergency Medical Transport

We'll get you to hospital lickety-split

  • Explorer Plan: Unlimited
  • Standard Plan: $500,000
Evacuation and Repatriation
  • Banged up abroad?
  • Need a hospital urgently?
  • Medivac home?

Help starts here.

Protect your gear

Cover your stolen or damaged gear and tech.

  • Explorer Plan: $10,000
  • Standard Plan: $2,000
Protect your gear
  • Passport or tech stolen?
  • Airline lost your gear?
  • Bags delayed?

Help starts here.

  • Overseas Medical Expenses
  • Emergency dental treatment
  • 24 hour assistance
  • Emergency medical transport & repatriation
  • Cancellation costs
  • Trip interruption costs
  • Compassionate emergency visit home
  • Resumption of trip
  • Theft or accidental damage to baggage and personal items
  • Baggage delay over 12 hours
  • Funeral expenses overseas or repatriation of remains
  • Personal liability
This is a general summary for Australian residents only. Restrictions, exclusions and limitations will apply. Benefit limits may vary depending on the plan chosen. Check the policy documents for full details.

24/7 emergency assistance

If you need medical assistance or emergency medical evacuation our team is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year before and during your trip.

Are you in need of emergency assistance right now?

Phone: +61 2 8263 0470 or Phone: +61 2 8292 1470 (reverse charges via an operator from anywhere in the world)

Contact the team

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