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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 you 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. 

World Nomads has put together some information that will help guide you if you’re stuck at an airport. The information covers some steps to follow in case your flight is delayed or cancelled, 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 know it could be more than a 12-hour period, 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.

Traveler 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 Policy Wording for a full description of the coverage, terms, conditions and exclusions that apply to you.

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 travelers report service desks have given them proof on letterhead paper at the airport on the spot. If they can't get their customer service and complaints, contact details then initiate contact on the spot.

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

If you have been left out of pocket or incurred expenses because of the delay, then your first port of call must be to seek compensation. Get the carrier to help rearrange or reschedule your plans or ask for 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 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: Depending on your Country of Residence 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 airline, public transport provider, tour operator, or accommodation provider.

Step 4: Keep all your documentation

If you’re still out of pocket after contacting your airline, travel provider, or accommodation provider for compensation, you can make a claim under your travel insurance.  We will consider all the information available to use and make 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 Policy Wording 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.

For more information on delayed and missed flights and how you may be covered read our Help Center article - Travel insurance: delayed and missed flights.

If you’re unsure about your level of cover around trip interruptions, you can read our Help Centre article - What does trip interruption cover?

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?

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.

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 Policy Wording, 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.

Here and the main things that aren’t covered:

  • You decline any reasonable alternative service or compensation offered by your airline or other travel service provider.
  • You not having allowed for the airline’s official minimum check-in or transit time. For example: not leaving reasonable time for traffic delays is not a claimable event.
  • Withdrawal from service, temporarily or otherwise, of the aircraft, coach, train or sea vessel on the order or recommendation of the Civil Aviation Authority or Port Authority or similar body in any country.
  • You traveling against the advice of the local or national government authority relevant in the circumstances. We won’t cover any loss, claim or expenses that directly or indirectly relate to or arise from traveling to, planning to travel to, or choosing to remain in a country or region that is the subject of a government warning of ‘Do Not Travel’ issued by the U.S. Department of State. See -
  • 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). Note: Compensation should be sought directly from the carrier in these situations.
  • If your airline offers you an alternative flight/transport, you are expected to take it, otherwise your cover may also be limited.
  • A loss arising from a change of mind, disinclination or reluctance to travel.
  • You not providing receipts for your expenses.
  • Delays caused by expected and foreseen events that have been covered widely be 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:  

  • Contact your airline, or tour operator to check if any travel services are affected. 
  • If you need to change your travel arrangements, contact your airline, accommodation provider, or travel agent for assistance in the first instance.
  • Allow more time to arrive if you know there are strikes occurring that may cause delays, but not prevent you from traveling.
  • If you can use eGates then do so, as this may give save you time and alleviate further delays for other passengers.
  • Checking in online in advance of arriving at the airport will also reduce potential waiting times for travellers.
  • 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 Policy Wording in full, so you understand what is and isn’t covered. If you are unsure about your level of travel cover, please contact us for help.

Travel Insurance Benefits: how we can take care of you

Trip Protection

Protect your hard earned vacation from unexpected cancellation before you leave home.

  • Explorer Plan: USD $10,000
  • Standard Plan: USD $5,000
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Emergency Overseas Medical Insurance

Take the pain out of medical costs while traveling overseas.

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Emergency Medical Transportation

We'll get you to hospital quickly.

  • Explorer Plan: USD $500,000
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  • Need a hospital urgently?
  • Medivac home?

Help starts here.

Protect your gear

Cover your stolen or damaged gear and tech.

  • Explorer Plan: USD $3,500
  • Standard Plan: USD $2,500
Protect your gear
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  • Airline lost your gear?
  • Bags delayed?

Help starts here.

  • Overseas Medical & Dental Expenses
  • 24 hour Emergency Assistance
  • Emergency Medical Transport
  • Repatriation & Travel Expenses
  • Pre-Trip Cancellation
  • Trip Interruption
  • Resumption of Trip
  • Travel Delay
  • Missed connection (Explorer)
  • Hijacking (Explorer)
  • Baggage & Personal Items
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  • Personal Liability
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*This is a general summary for all residents except from USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Brazil, China and Philippines. Restrictions, exclusions and limitations will apply. Coverage may not be available for all countries, states or provinces. Benefit limits may vary depending on the plan chosen. Get a quote for full details.

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