Flightmare: Thousands of flights canceled, delayed, do you need insurance?

Flight disruptions have become the new norm this season as the airline industry faces several headwinds, most notably, ongoing staff shortages as well as weather and air traffic control constraints.

In the days leading up to July 4, airlines have already canceled and delayed thousands of flights. As a result, some passengers may feel inclined to purchase insurance as additional protection.

However, FOX Business spoke with travel insurance experts who say that while insurance can work in some cases, it isn’t always necessary. If you opt for the extra protection, experts also say it’s essential to read the fine print first, as some policies may not always cover what you expect. This includes policies offered on the airline’s website as well as by third-party companies.

Teleprinter Security Last To change To change %
DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 29.61 -0.75 -2.47%
LAU UNITED AIRLINES HOLDINGS INC. 35.68 -1.29 -3.49%
JBLU JETBLUE AIRWAYS CORP. 8.96 +0.23 +2.63%
AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC. 13.03 -0.47 -3.48%

The advantages and disadvantages of taking out insurance:

“If airfare is the only travel expense and the only concern is an issue that the airline will work with you on, it may not make sense to get insurance,” Meghan Walch said. , product manager for the travel insurance comparison site. InsureMyTrip, told FOX Business.

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Walch said it would only work for travelers who are willing and able to reschedule their flight within the time frame set by the airline.

On top of that, “you’re counting on the airline to hold its end of the bargain if it’s more of a business decision and not something written in the airline’s contract,” Walch said.

Travelers check departure screens for their flight status at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh/AP Newsroom)

On the other hand, if passengers have fixed days for their trip and other expenses that they could lose in the event of delay or cancellation, “then it may be wise to review and compare insurance at third parties who can offer coverage for the full duration and a non-refundable prepaid cost of the trip,” she said.

“For example, I am flying to take a cruise. If you do not have insurance and your flight is delayed, the airline may offer to book you a later flight, but you may lose part of your , if not the whole cruise,” Walch said.

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For travel delays, under the plan, passengers can get coverage to help offset the costs of an extra night’s accommodation and food while you wait for another flight, said Suzanne Morrow, senior vice president. from InsureMyTrip, to FOX Business.

Trip Interruption is a benefit that provides travelers with reimbursement for their prepaid, non-refundable expenses if they have to cut short their trip unexpectedly, Morrow added. A good example is if you need to book an emergency return flight.

Flight delays

Flight cancellations are seen on the information board at Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday, November 30, 2021. (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP/AP Newsroom)

The insurance can also help a passenger reimburse “additional expenses, such as food or accommodation needed while you’re stuck at the airport or overnight in a hotel, as well as expenses (up to the limit police) to help you catch up on the cruise,” Walch said.

Some insurance plans may also cover things like lost luggage and medical emergencies.

However, that doesn’t mean travelers without insurance are out of luck. Carriers will always try to accommodate passengers if flights are disrupted, including due to involuntary changes.

Travel waivers, for example, allow passengers to change or rebook their trip free of charge in the event of uncontrollable events, such as extreme weather conditions, impact flight and travel dates. In a particularly rare move, Delta Air Lines even issued a travel waiver ahead of the busy Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Teleprinter Security Last To change To change %
DAL DELTA AIR LINES INC. 29.61 -0.75 -2.47%
AAL AMERICAN AIRLINES GROUP INC. 13.03 -0.47 -3.48%
LUV SOUTH WEST AIRLINES CO. 36.18 -0.49 -1.34%

“We expect to carry customer volumes over the weekend that are unprecedented since before the pandemic,” Delta said.

The waiver, valid from Friday to Monday, will allow travelers to rebook trips before or after these peak holiday days with no fare difference or change fees.

Southwest Airlines told FOX Business that if a customer’s flight has been “affected by an involuntary change”, they can change their flight for free up to 14 days from the original travel date.

American Airlines explained on its website in its “involuntary refunds” section that it will refund passengers if the carrier “has failed to operate on time (a delay in your departure time of more than 4 hours) or if we refused to let you fly for reasons other than your breach of this contract.”

Read the Fine Print: Some Plans Don’t Cover Everything

Depending on the insurance a passenger purchases, either directly from the airline’s website or through a third-party service, there are different levels of coverage. It’s important to understand what’s included in this coverage, as it may not always include things like a rescheduled flight, even if you’re re-booked a few days later, according to Morrow.

passenger airport

Travelers walk to their gates at Philadelphia International Airport Friday, Dec. 31, 2021 in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez/AP Newsroom)

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“As long as you don’t lose money, you don’t get money back,” Morrow said. “At the end of the day, insurance is designed to make someone whole…so if you haven’t lost money, you don’t have a claim.”

If a flight is cancelled, but the passenger ends up being rebooked, they don’t lose money, she added.

Plus, beware that some cheaper policies won’t even cover delayed trips unless they’re delayed for a significant period of time, Morrow said.

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In some cases, airlines will offer coverage for trip interruptions and trip delays, but their website may list a “covered” reason.

“That’s where they’re going to get you,” she said. “You want to make sure you understand what’s covered and what’s excluded because the exclusions are where they’ll really catch you.”

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