A number of major airlines including British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair will be impacted by strike action this summer, with staff resorting to industrial action in an effort to tackle disputes about pay and working conditions. The action is likely to cause further disruption to UK travellers, many of whom have already experienced Covid complications and passport delays.
With possible delays and cancellations on the horizon, consumer group Which? conducted a detailed study that highlights the best and worst travel insurance policies consumers can buy. Which? surveyed 199 policies from a total of 71 different travel insurance providers and found that:
- only 39% of policies provided cover for cancellations owing to strike action
- 92% of travel insurance policies will cover some of the costs if you missed your departure due to a delay that was out of your control
- 77% of policies would provide the same cover for your return flight
- 72% of policies would provide cover for connecting flights
- 52% of policies would refund your holiday costs if your airline went bankrupt
Jenny Ross, Money editor at Which? said "With many airlines warning of widespread disruption this summer and Covid cases on the rise, travellers should ensure they have taken out adequate insurance to cover any losses or unexpected costs they might face. We advise travellers to always check policies carefully to ensure they offer the cover that will be most appropriate to their trip, and to ensure they have cover in place from the time of booking."
What if I am affected by strikes?
If your flight is cancelled as a result of strike action then the airline is ultimately responsible for your onward travel and welfare. The airline must arrange for you to get to your destination on the same day if possible, ideally via one of its own aircraft on an alternative flight, or via another airline if that's not possible. If there is no alternative flight on the same day, then the airline must cover the cost of accommodation as well as food and drink (not alcohol) until you can get to your destination or until you decide that you no longer wish to travel.
Depending on the cancellation policy of your booked accommodation, you may simply be able to cancel your accommodation and receive a full refund. If you are unable to receive a refund, then you may be able to claim for losses on your travel insurance policy. Additionally, if you booked your accommodation using a credit card then you may be able to make a claim with your card provider under section 75 of the consumer credit act, owing to the fact that the product or service has not been delivered as promised; one of the conditions in which you are entitled to a refund.
As with your accommodation, you should check with the provider to see if you are entitled to a refund. If you are unsuccessful, then you may need to make a claim on your travel insurance policy or via your credit card provider if the purchase was in excess of £100.
In the first instance, your airline should provide alternative arrangements either on a later flight on one of its own aircraft or via another airline provider. In addition, customers have an extra layer of support in the form of their tour operator and in the worst-case scenario where your holiday has to be cancelled, your holiday costs should be refunded to you by your tour operator within two weeks, under ATOL protection rules.
The research from Which? highlights how important it is to check your travel insurance policy documents. Additionally, it helps to highlight the wide range of policies on offer and the importance of checking the features when comparing different policies.
If you are considering buying travel insurance for an upcoming trip, or if you have subsequently found that your travel insurance policy isn't as comprehensive as you had hoped, we would recommend reading the following articles:
- The best travel insurance providers in the UK in 2022
- Do I need travel insurance?
- When should I buy travel insurance?