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Flight cancelled? You’re entitled to a refund or alternative flight

Flight cancelled? You’re entitled to a refund or alternative flight.

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, other costs can be claimed back. You also have a number of rights.

Your Rights

Your airline should tell you what’s going on. Ask at a check-in desk. Also refer to its website, app, and social media channels for updates. Check the email you used when booking too, in case you’ve been sent an update.

Your airline must look after you if you’re waiting for an alternative flight. They need to provide each of your party with:

  • Food and drink (often provided in the form of vouchers).
  • Means for you to communicate (often by refunding the cost of your calls).
  • Accommodation, if no flights are available the same day
  • Transport to and from the accommodation (or your home, if you are able to return there)

Keep Your Receipts!

If your airline can’t cover these costs or provide vouchers, you can purchase and claim back the costs. Be sure to keep receipts. Remember that you can only claim back reasonable expenses. Check your airline’s website for any guidance.

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 directly.

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, again, remember to keep your receipts.

Rescheduled Flights

If rescheduled dates/times are not acceptable, don’t be afraid to speak up. Your flight or tour operator will offer an alternate flight or a refund, either as a cash payment or voucher.

Additional Costs

You’ve no right to additional compensation for non-refundable hotels, pre-booked car hire or excursions. Tickets for theme parks, concerts or other events are not covered either. You can ask, but there is no legal protection for these costs.

Travel Insurance

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.

Insurance policies normally only consider 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. As such you should, in the first instance, contact the following:

  • tour operator,
  • airline,
  • accommodation provider,
  • credit or debit card providers.

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

Travel Disruptions & Delays – what is covered?

Travel Disruption

Disruption travelling to the departure point can cause missed departure times. This could be due to strike, adverse weather conditions or mechanical breakdown. Your insurance policy will specify the events included.

In such scenarios, travel disruption applies. It covers additional accommodation and travel expenses. However, these must be reasonable and unavoidable to reach the overseas destination or return home.

Travel Delay

Once the departure point is reached, delays can still occur. Cover is provided for the specified period from the time shown in your travel itinerary.

You must check-in according to the itinerary of your trip. This is unless the transport provider has advised not to travel to the departure point.

After the specified delay period, you may decide not to continue on your trip. Your cover will be up to the limits shown on your insurance policy. These are found in the cancellation section of your insurance policy.

The following events are not covered.

Delays caused directly or indirectly by or on the order of:

  • the government
  • a public or local authority
  • any civil or federal aviation authority.

Delays directly or indirectly related to a pandemic and/or epidemic. This could include a Coronavirus outbreak.


Please refer to your Insurance Policy for full Terms, Conditions and Exclusions.

  • Testimonials

    We were pleased with our Free Spirit travel insurance quote as we thought it would be more expensive with our medical conditions.
    Mrs. MorrisKent

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