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Face Flight Cancellation and Strikes With Confidence

A flight cancellation can leave you feeling lost, unsure of who to turn to, or even stuck at the airport for some time. An increase in flight cancellations last year left airports in chaos as airlines struggled to keep and maintain staffing levels to deliver a positive customer experience.

This month over 2,000 security staff at Heathrow Airport are set to go on strike – almost every weekend – from Saturday 24th June till the August Bank Holiday weekend. View the full list of dates.

In response, we wanted to re-share our helpful travel advice. This should reassure and help you reach your destination with confidence if your flight is cancelled, delayed, or disrupted.


What compensation am I due for a flight cancellation?

You’re entitled to a full refund or alternative flight if your flight is cancelled.

This applies regardless of:

  • How long before the flight your airline informed you.
  • What caused the cancellation.

If you’re stuck at the airport or abroad because your flight has been cancelled, you have a number of rights:

  • Your airline should tell you what’s going on. Ask at a check-in desk but also look at its website, app, Twitter, and Facebook for updates. Check the email you used when booking too, in case you’ve been sent an update. Also, you can refer to where you can check the status of your flight, to see if it’s been delayed or cancelled.
  • Your airline must look after you if you’re waiting for an alternative flight because your original one was cancelled.

They need to provide:

  • A reasonable amount of food and drink (often provided in the form of vouchers).
  • A means for you to communicate (often by refunding the cost of your calls).
  • Accommodation, if you are re-routed the next day (usually in a nearby hotel).
  • Transport to and from the accommodation (or your home, if you are able to return there).

pre flight drink

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Keep Your Receipts!

If your airline can’t immediately cover these costs or provide a voucher, you can buy your own and claim back the cost. Just make sure you keep all receipts. However, remember that only reasonable expenses are covered. Check your airline’s website for further guidance.

keep receipts if flight cancelled


Package Holidays

For cancelled package holidays the tour operator has to either:

  • Source an alternative flight, or
  • An alternative holiday, or
  • Refund the whole cost of the holiday.

If you need to make a claim, contact the tour operator. Note that the tour operator must cover your accommodation, food, and transfer costs, rather than the airline. If you aren’t invited to make a claim – keep your receipts.


Rescheduled Flights

If your flight has been rescheduled and the new dates/times are not acceptable your flight operator will simply offer an alternate flight or a refund either as a cash payment or voucher.


Additional Costs

You’ve no right to additional compensation, e.g. to make up for a non-refundable hotel, pre-booked car hire, excursions, or tickets for theme parks, concerts, or events (although always ask them for a refund). However, there is no legal protection for these costs.

Your travel insurance will not cover you for any additional costs in re-booking flights with a different provider or anything pre-booked and non-refundable if you choose to cancel the trip.

cancellation costs


What will my travel insurance cover for flight cancellation?

Your travel insurance will not cover you for:

  • Any additional costs in re-booking flights with a different provider.
  • Anything pre-booked and non-refundable if you chose to cancel the trip.

Typically, your insurance policy will only respond to claims for irrecoverable costs. i.e. only claims that can’t be met elsewhere, by those primarily responsible. In most instances, a refund is due via consumer protection laws, such as Package Travel & Linked Arrangement Regulations 2018; EU Transport Regulations; Consumer Credit Act; or debit card chargebacks.

As such you should, in the first instance, contact the following:

  • Your tour operator, such as TUI.
  • The airline.
  • Accommodation provider.
  • Credit or debit card providers.

Claims can only be considered where these options have been attempted.


Travel disruptions and delays due to flight cancellation – What’s covered?

Travel Disruption

This would provide cover for reasonable additional accommodation and travel expenses necessarily incurred to reach the overseas destination or to reach Home due to:

  • Your scheduled public transport services failing to get you to your destination in time or not running to timetable.
  • This could be due to strikes, industrial action, adverse weather conditions, or mechanical breakdown. Your insurance policy will specify what reasons are covered under this section.

Travel Delay

Once the departure point is reached, delays can still occur. If your departure is delayed because the public transport carrier you have checked in for is delayed for a specified period from the time shown in your travel itinerary. It is a condition that you must check in according to the itinerary of your trip unless your public transport carrier has requested you not to travel to the departure point. If after the specified delay period, you may decide not to continue on your trip. Cover is provided under the Cancellation section of your insurance policy for Abandonment up to the limits shown.

couple stuck at airport due to strike


What won’t I be covered for?

  • Any claims arising directly or indirectly from the delay of travel arrangements caused by or on the order of any government, public or local authority including but not limited to any civil or federal aviation authority.
  • Any claims directly or indirectly related to a pandemic and/or epidemic, including but not limited to Coronavirus.


To travel with confidence refer to your Insurance Policy for full Terms, Conditions, and Exclusions. Read Free Spirit’s travel insurance policy here.

Download our flight disruption and cancellation travel tips.

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