General Information

Delayed vs Cancelled Flights

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With so much inclement weather affecting air travel over the past several months, travelers are having to adjust their itineraries based on how the airlines have.  Travel insurance provides relief for these travelers, and, depending on the situation, multiple coverage benefits can apply.  One aspect that determines what coverage is available is whether a flight is delayed or cancelled.  A recent story from Fox News addresses the trends surrounding airline delays and cancellations.

Cancellations in December rose to 3.7 percent of all scheduled flights for the 18 largest domestic carriers, versus 2.8 percent in the same month last year, according to data provided Thursday. The on-time rate for the month was 72 percent, the same as a year ago.

“Airlines are pre-canceling simply to avoid a potential tarmac delay,” said Terry Trippler, a travel analyst at consultancy Rules to Know.’

Starting in April, airlines face fines of up to $27,000 a person on aircraft sitting on a tarmac for more than three hours. Lawmakers passed the rules following a string of horror stories of passengers being stuck on planes for long periods of time without food, fresh water or clean lavatories.

More flight cancellations and less flight delays can benefit travelers in several ways.

First, travelers can determine whether the trip to the airport is necessary.  If a flight is cancelled early enough, travelers can avoid anxiously waiting at the departure gate by simply staying home until the flight is re-scheduled.  Useful flight information is available more readily through social media, email alerts and travel websites, allowing travelers to make better and quicker decisions about itinerary changes.

Second, more travel insurance coverage is available for a cancelled flight than a delayed flight.  Shorter delays may only be covered by travel delay or missed connection, reimbursing costs for food, lodging, taxis and additional transportation to catch up to the trip.  If the delay does not last the required amount of time, anywhere from 3 to 12 hours, coverage will not be available.  Longer delays and cancellations can be covered by trip cancellation and trip interruption, helping travelers recoup the sunk costs of unused travel expenses.  Many policies cover if weather causes a flight delay or cancellation, but normally requires at least a 12 hour, sometimes as much as a 48 hour time period without service from the airline.  Once the allotted time has passed from the original scheduled departure, travelers will be eligible for trip interruption, pro-rated reimbursement of unused travel arrangements, or they can scrap the entire vacation through trip cancellation.  This can be in addition to the benefits provided by travel delay or missed connection.

Of course, most travelers would prefer to arrive at the destination on time, or at least as close to on time as possible.  But for those with a travel insurance policy, a cancelled flight can be more beneficial than a delayed flight.

Source:  Airlines Cancelling Flights to Avoid Fines