HOLIDAYMAKERS experienced ‘travel chaos’ over the bank holiday weekend, after a 24-hour outage caused over 270 passport e-gates to crash across major UK airports.
This left travellers having to wait for manual passport checks on the busiest day for UK air travel since 2019, and has sparked fears that security staff will head on strike this summer.
The delays occurred just days after thousands of people were unsure whether their holiday would go ahead at all, with British Airways cancelling flights last week due to an IT failure.
And whilst many Scots will opt for fast track security passes to alleviate their airport stress, this won’t protect them against similar passport security failures, or flight cancellations.
David Parker, Divisional Director at A-Plan Insurance, stressed the importance of protecting yourself against airport delays before going abroad – regardless of when and where you’re travelling – and identifies the other ways you can save money on your insurance.
He said: “It’s never been more important to consider all eventualities when taking out travel insurance, as airport strikes are becoming a common occurrence, and unpredictable IT outages – like we’ve seen this weekend – mean travellers end up missing their flights.
“Sadly, your airline isn’t liable to offer a refund or alternative flight if you end up missing your plane due to airport security or border control delays, so it’s up to you to protect yourself.”
Although all airlines are obligated to refund travellers’ air passenger duty for missed flights, many people end up ignoring the offer, as most providers charge a processing fee that’s higher than the actual refund amount – leaving holidaymakers even more out of pocket.
Even those that do offer refunds due to delays only provide a set payment amount over a certain time, such as £50 for every hour over 12 hours, so won’t prove useful to many.
David continued: “You never know when delays will impact your travel plans, and so it’s crucial that you take out a policy that accounts for strike action, IT failures and similar unexpected events. One in 20 policies don’t offer cover if you miss your departure due to queues or strikes, so don’t presume it’s covered by every insurance provider.
“This is also why it’s important to purchase your travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your flights – rather than leaving it to the last minute – as this means you’re covered against strike action and uncontrollable delays well before you even get to the airport.”
This also works for airport delays outside of the UK, with baggage handlers in Italy expected to head on strike next week, and rumours circulating around another pilot strike in Spain.
As well as urging holidaymakers to opt for a policy that covers delays, A-Plan Insurance also reveals the other ways you can save money on your travel insurance this summer:
- Organise cover as early as possible. Many people put off organising travel insurance until right before they fly, rather than sorting it straight after they’ve booked their flights. However, this means you’re vulnerable in the weeks running up to your trip and will lose money in the event of a last-minute cancellation or delay.
- Compare different deals and providers. Although it can be tempting to opt for the first reasonably-priced policy you see, shopping around and comparing different providers is the best way to ensure you’re getting the best deal. Make sure to check what each policy covers, as price doesn’t always correlate to the quality. Make sure that you keep an eye out for sponsored deals too; some comparison sites have partnerships with providers to promote their rates, and skew the deals you see first.
- Consider taking out a group policy. Combining cover for your family or partner on a shared policy can be cheaper than covering everybody individually – just make sure that everyones’ individual circumstances (like medical conditions) are accounted for. This is because covering everyone under a single policy reduces the admin and premiums needed to process a claim, making it cheaper overall.
- Avoid paying for unnecessary extras. Excluding certain terms from your policy can reduce the cost of your insurance, so make sure you actually need what you’re paying for. For example, you can forgo any winter sports cover for a beach holiday, and holidaymakers heading on staycation can ignore policies that charge more to cover a cancelled/delayed flight – unless you’re flying domestically, of course.
- Check whether you’re already covered. You may already have travel insurance without realising, so check whether you’re still covered from an annual policy you took out last summer, or that you don’t already have cover as an added feature with your current account or credit card. But even if you are already covered, double check that the policy applies to this trip and that you’re fully protected.