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What to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled

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So you’re stuck at the airport … we’ve all been there. If your flight has been delayed or cancelled, or you’ve missed your connection, your airline should always be your first port of call. But travel insurance may be able to help in certain circumstances. Read on for more info.

What to do if your flight has been cancelled or you’ve missed a connection

In many cases, if your flight has been cancelled or you miss a connection, your airline will automatically rebook you. Before travel, download your airline’s app, and refresh the app as soon as you realize you’ve got flight issues.

If your airline has not automatically rebooked you, head to the service desk or call their customer care line. But don’t rush to buy a new flight, as neither the airline nor travel insurance are likely to reimburse you for a new flight. 

Talk to your airline about rebooking, compensation or a full refund

Your airline is obligated to rebook you if your flight has been cancelled or you’ve been bumped from an oversold flight. Travel insurance won’t reimburse you if you’ve been bumped, so seek compensation directly from your airline. If they can’t get you on a new flight until tomorrow, ask to be rebooked on another carrier, or request meal and hotel vouchers. You must accept any reasonable alternative options offered by the airline. If you do end up making a travel insurance claim, you’ll need proof that you first sought reimbursement from your airline.

Get the essential details in writing from your airline

If the airline is unable to provide meal or hotel vouchers, you may be able to claim for reimbursement of out-of-pocket meal and lodging expenses under your trip delay benefit. You’ll need written confirmation from your airline that includes:

  • the reason for the delay
  • scheduled departure and return times
  • actual departure and return times.

Head straight to the airline desk to get this critical information or ask a telephone agent to email you these details on the spot. 

Keep your receipts for reasonable expenses

Remember to keep receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses you incur during your delay – you’ll need these to make a claim. Your trip delay benefit may cover taxi fares, lodging and meals while you’re delayed. And if your bags are delayed too, by more than 12 hours, keep receipts for the essential toiletries and a change of clothes that you’ll need until your trip resumes and you’re reunited with your bag.

If you do need to make a claim, check out our how to make a claim article for step-by-step guidance.

How might travel insurance help if your flight is delayed or cancelled?

Travel insurance may be able to step in where your airline falls short. Here are some situations where travel insurance may be able to provide some relief.

  • If you suffer a trip interruption due to a covered risk under the policy, for example a strike resulting in complete cessation of travel services at your departure point or destination, you may be able to claim for reimbursement of unused, prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs.
  • If your flight is delayed by inclement weather for more than three hours or is cancelled entirely, you may be eligible for subsistence allowance, including meals, taxi fares and accommodation. Remember to save all your receipts, as you’ll need them to make a claim.
  • Once you reach your destination, if your checked baggage is delayed by your airline or ground carrier for more than 12 hours, you may be eligible to claim for reimbursement of essential toiletries and a change of clothes under your baggage delay benefits.

World Nomads offers a Standard Plan and an Explorer Plan, which have different benefit limits. Read your chosen plan thoroughly to understand the benefit limits.

Traveler tip 1: You may have coverage if your flight was canceled due to an airline’s unannounced 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’s excluded:

Travel insurance isn’t designed to cover everything. Exclusions include, but are not limited to:

  • You running late, getting stuck in traffic or the security line and missing your flight.
  • Purchase of a new flight because you didn’t want to wait to be rebooked by your airline.
  • Luxury hotel suites and the most expensive thing on the menu. Travel insurance is meant to cover reasonable out-of-pocket expenses if you’re delayed.
  • Baggage delays of less than 12 hours.
  • Expenses that have been reimbursed by your airline.
  • Expenses that exceed the limits as stated in your policy (for example, subsistence allowance is capped at $350 per day, to a maximum of $700).

Traveler tip 2: if you are going to miss your flight because you’re just running late, that’s not a Covered Risk. Under World Nomads policies, if an event is not specifically listed as a Covered Risk, there is no coverage for that event. Always make sure you read your Policy Wording or Certificate of Insurance for a full description of the coverage, terms, conditions and exclusions that apply.

Handy tips in case your plans get affected by a delayed or cancelled flight

We know delays and cancellations are frustrating, but here are a few tips to help smooth the journey.   

  1. Prepare in advance. Download your airline’s app. Print or save a copy of your travel insurance policy documents. Check-in online if you can.
  2. Allow plenty of time to get to the airport and through the security line (usually a minimum of two hours for domestic and three hours for international flights, but check with your airline for guidance).
  3. Be ready for delays and cancellations, which are increasingly common these days. Wear comfortable clothes; bring snacks; have reading, watching or listening material ready when you need it.
  4. Carry-on if you can. Having everything with you will minimize the chances of baggage loss if you miss a connection or your flight is cancelled. If you need to check your bag, carry the essentials, including medications and change of clothes, with you.
  5. Know what your policy does and does not cover, and when.
  6. Be patient and kind. Delays and cancellations are frustrating. Be kind to the customer service agents who are dealing with dozens, if not hundreds, of other angry passengers.

This is only a summary of coverage and does not include the full terms and conditions of the policy. It is important you read and understand your policy as it contains benefits, conditions, exclusions and pre-existing condition exclusions. If you do not understand your coverage, or if you have questions about your coverage, just ask us.

Travel Insurance Benefits: how we can take care of you

Trip Cancellation

Protect your hard earned vacation from unexpected cancellation.

  • Explorer Plan: $5,000
  • Standard Plan: $2,500
Trip Protection
  • Unexpectedly hospitalised?
  • Travel buddy unfit to travel?
  • Close relative suddenly dies?

We’ve got your back.

Emergency Medical Insurance

Take the pain out of medical or dental costs.

  • Explorer Plan: $10 million
  • Standard Plan: $5 million
Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Need meds quick?
  • Accidentally injured?
  • Suddenly sick?

We’ve got your back.

Emergency Evacuation & Repatriation

We’ll get you to hospital or home quickly.

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

Help starts here.

Protect your gear

Covers the theft, damage or delay of your bags, tech and sports gear.

  • Explorer Plan: $3,000
  • Standard Plan: $1,000
Protect your gear
  • Passport or tech stolen?
  • Airline lost your gear?
  • Bags delayed?

Help starts here.

  • Emergency Medical Expenses
  • Emergency Dental for Injury or Sickness
  • Bedside Companion Travel and Subsistence
  • Emergency Professional Services
  • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation
  • Return of Travel Companion/Dependent Children
  • Return to Your Trip Destination
  • Return of Remains
  • Travel Accident
  • Flight Accident
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Trip Interruption
  • Trip Delay
  • Baggage and Personal Effects Theft or Damage
  • Baggage and Sporting Equipment Delay
  • Travel Documents Theft or Damage
  • Sporting Equipment Theft or Loss by a Common Carrier
  • Covered Adventure Sports listed in Policy
Assistance Services Included
  • LiveTravelTM Emergency Assistance
  • Worldwide Travel Assistance
  • Adventure Travel Hotline
  • 24/7 Security
  • Travel Medical Assistance
  • Bag Trak
This is a general summary for Canadian residents only. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions and termination provisions of the travel insurance plans described. Coverage may not be available for residents of all provinces. Check the Travel Insurance Policy for full details.

24/7 emergency assistance

Whether you need medical or dental assistance or advice, emergency evacuation or travel assistance, our team are 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?

Telephone +1 866 878 0192 (toll-free from Canada and the Continental U.S.) or +1 416 646 3723 (collect from anywhere else in the world)

Contact the team

Travel insurance. Simple & flexible.

Travel insurance for independent travelers and intrepid families. Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on their trip, but these things can and do happen. So be prepared and get your travel insurance today.

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