Photo © Getty Images / Virojt Changyencham

What to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled

    Trusted by:

  • Trusted by:

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 the airline is not likely to reimburse you for a flight purchased on your own and travel insurance can only reimburse you if your flight is canceled for a reason specified by your plan. 

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 or other travel provider.

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 local transportation, 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 had to buy 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 an airline refused to provide meal or lodging vouchers, you may be able to claim for reimbursement of those expenses after a delay of six or more hours.
  • If your delayed or cancelled flight caused you to miss pre-paid accommodation or tours, you may be able to claim for reimbursement of those unused, prepaid, nonrefundable trip costs.
  • If your flight is cancelled or delayed for at least 24 consecutive hours due to unforeseen weather or a strike, you may be able to claim reimbursement for new flight tickets that you had to purchase out of pocket.
  • If you’re stuck overnight and your airline can’t deliver your checked baggage for more than 12 hours, you can 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 per day and maximum 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 unannounced airline strike. Read our Help Centre article – Does travel insurance cover strikes to learn more.

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 a long 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.
  • Flight delays of less than six hours.
  • Baggage delays of less than 12 hours.
  • Expenses that have been reimbursed by your airline.

Traveler tip 2: if you are going to miss your flight because you’re just running late, contact your airline. Travel insurance won’t be able to reimburse you for your missed flight if you overslept, got stuck in

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 the most up-to-date 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 a change of clothes, with you.
  5. Know what your policy does and does not cover, and when. Trip delay benefits for U.S. resident policy holders start at six hours. Baggage delay benefits start at 12 hours. Know what types of delays are (e.g. weather) and are not (e.g. airline staffing issues) covered.
  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, 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 coverage, 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.

  • Explorer Plan: $10,000
  • 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: $100,000
  • Standard Plan: $100,000
Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Need meds quick?
  • Accidentally injured?
  • Suddenly sick?

We’ve got your back.

Emergency Evacuation

We'll provide assistance to get you to the hospital or home quickly.

  • Explorer Plan: $500,000
  • Standard Plan: $300,000
Emergency Evacuation
  • Banged up abroad?
  • Need a hospital urgently?
  • Medivac home?

Help starts here.

Protect your gear

Covers the loss, theft or damage of your bags, tech and 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 Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
  • Repatriation of Remains
  • Trip Cancellation
  • Trip Interruption
  • Trip Delay
  • Baggage & Personal Effects
  • Baggage Delay (outward journey only)
  • Rental Car Damage – where permissible
  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment
  • Generali Global Assistance 24-Hour Assistance Services
  • Generali Global Assistance Non-Medical Emergency Transportation Services
This is a general summary for US residents only. Restrictions, exclusions and limitations will apply. Benefit limits may vary depending on the plan chosen. Check the plan documents for full details.

24/7 emergency assistance

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

Wherever you are, we’re here 24/7 to help you in any emergency.

Are you in need of emergency assistance right now?

Contact Generali Global Assistance:
Telephone: +1 954-334-8143 (Collect outside the US)
+1 877-289-0968 (Toll-free in the US and Canada

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.

Underwritten by:
In partnership with: