Airline delays seem inevitable to many travelers. When delays do happen, it is more and more rare for the airline to provide compensation to the travelers. However, travel insurance can help when vacation plans are delayed, interrupted or cancelled by airlines. A recent article from USA Today provides information about airline delays showing this year has been an overall improvement, but September’s statistics were a slight setback. The following is an excerpt from the article.
•Year-to-date. On-time arrival performance during the first nine months of this year was the third best for the January-September period in 16 years. Only 2002 and 2003 — when traffic slowed following the Sept. 11 attacks — posted better numbers.
•Best and worst airports. More than 90% of flights to Denver arrived on time, the highest among the 29 busiest airports in the country. San Francisco had the worst rate, at 75.8%. For departures, Portland scored the best with 91.8%, while New York JFK fared the worst at 78.1%.
•Customer complaints. Formal complaints have been rising sharply in recent months, and September was no exception. The Transportation Department received 755 complaints about airline service in September, vs. 603 a year ago. In the first nine months of the year, complaints totaled 8,811, vs. 6,676 a year ago.
•Baggage handling. The carriers reported a mishandled baggage rate of 2.89 reports per 1,000 passengers in September, an improvement over September 2009’s rate of 3.06.
When a flight is delayed, travel delay can reimburse expenses for food, lodging and local transportation. This normally requires the delay last for a set amount of time, anywhere from 5-12 hours.
If a delay causes the traveler to miss a significant part of the vacation, trip interruption can reimburse the traveler unused trip costs that will not be refunded. Trip interruption can also cover the costs of catching up to the trip, missed connection coverage can apply as well.
Should a delay last for more than half of the scheduled vacation, some policies will allow the entire trip to be cancelled. Look closely at a policy’s trip cancellation coverage to see if this is included.
Baggage delay and baggage loss benefits are commonly included in a travel insurance policy as well. Baggage delay covers the cost of essential items during the delay, such as a change of clothes and toiletries. Similar to travel delay, this benefit normally requires a set amount of time pass before coverage is available. Baggage & personal items loss reimburses the traveler for luggage that is permanently lost, damaged or stolen.
Always refer to the certificate of insurance for details.