Answers on a Postcard

Travel insurance

UK-based travel insurance provider Postcard Travel Insurance has commented on the recent British Airways (BA) crisis, during which an IT meltdown left thousands of travellers stranded, explaining what compensation is available to travellers.

According to Stephen Howard, director of Postcard Travel Insurance, a flight is legally classified as delayed if take-off happened two or more hours after the scheduled departure time, and if the delay lasts five hours or more, the passenger can ask for the reimbursement of their full ticket price, regardless of the flight distance. They must do this within seven days.

Howard said that it is important for travellers to bear in mind that Regulation 261/20014, which was created in Brussels and is designed to provide compensation to passengers for delayed and cancelled flights in certain circumstances, only applies if passengers are flying with a European Union (EU) company or departing from an EU airport.   

He also said that if passengers are travelling to a non-EU country the airline must refund their ticket or try to provide an alternative flight. In the instance that an airline cancels a flight, either a refund of the ticket or an alternative flight will be offered, along with some compensation. According to Howard, BA passengers are currently being offered a refund for all unused parts of the ticket or alternative flights.

The compensation offered by BA is calculated in Euros, explained Howard, and depends on the flight distance and length of delay. It includes: €250 for flights of up to 1,500 km, €400 for flights within the EU of between 1,500 and 3,500 km, and €600 for all other flights. Howard also said that these amounts are reduced by 50 per cent if BA can offer an alternative flight route to passengers’ final destinations with a new scheduled arrival time that doesn’t exceed the original scheduled arrival time by: two hours for a flight of up to 1,500 km, three hours for all flights within the EU of more than 1,500 and 3,500 km, and four hours for all other flights.

“European regulations are designed to provide compensation to passengers for delayed and cancelled flights in certain circumstances,” said Howard. “Most travel policies will provide cover for ‘Travel Delay’ or ‘Trip Disruption’ – this would normally provide a limited benefit (usually £20 to £30 per 12 hours of delay) to allow you to purchase refreshments. Should the delay last for more than 12 or 24 hours, then the travel policy will usually reimburse you for unrecoverable costs should you decide to abandon your travel plans.”

Howard also said that while most travel insurance policies do not cover additional unforeseen costs, Postcard Travel Insurance does and will refund any element of the pre-booked trip that cannot be recovered from anywhere else, should a traveller have to cancel for any cause that is outside of their control. “Also, Postcard Travel Insurance provides a contribution towards additional unforeseen costs should travellers be delayed on their return journey,” he added.