How to Cope With Travel Cancellations

There is nothing like a cancellation to throw a spanner in your travel plans. If you are not careful, it can not only play havoc with your schedule and turn your dream trip into a disaster, it can leave you seriously out of pocket as well.

Cancellations happen for all sorts of reasons. Strikes by airline staff, air traffic controllers and public transport workers are a risk the world over. Bad weather can ground flights and keep ferries in harbour at very short notice. Operators go out of business, and in one famous recent example, Irish airline Ryanair had to start cancelling thousands of flights months in advance because of a clerical error in booking holidays for pilots.

Then, of course, there is always the risk that you are the one who has to do the cancelling because of illness or personal circumstances.

So how can you protect yourself if the worst happens? Here are some tips to help you cope with any cancellation.

Know your rights

Consumer law in most countries gives passengers some protection in the event of cancellations, or even lengthy delays, if they are caused by the travel operator. This may include entitlement to food, accommodation, refunds and compensation. You need to know what you are entitled to, though – don’t expect travel operators to be forthcoming about offering things that are not asked for.

Book with a licensed tour operator

In the internet age, more and more people are going DIY when booking travel and organising their own flights, transfers, rail tickets etc online. The risk with this is, should for example the company you have booked with go bust, you have little financial protection. The advantage of booking through a licensed operator is they have cash compensation schemes in place to pay back customers should one of their suppliers fail to deliver a service.

Use a credit card

Again, one of the simplest protections against a travel operator going bust is to book all tickets and accommodation on a credit card. Credit card companies are required by law to refund a purchase if it cannot be fulfilled.

Get cancellation cover on your travel insurance

General travel insurance policies do not always include cancellation cover as standard. It is something well worth asking your provider about, or shop around to find a provider which advertises cancellation cover. This is particularly important to protect yourself if you have to cancel the trip. So, for example, if you or one of your party has a medical condition and there is the possibility that they might fall ill and have to cancel, you would want to prioritise cancellation cover on your travel insurance. Without it, you have no protection and would lose your money.

Carry food and drink with you

Finally, cancellations can strike at any time – even when you are already at the airport, rail station or ferry port. You might even end up facing serious delays mid journey. It is always a good idea to carry food and drink with you while you travel, just in case. Coping with cancellations and delays is taxing enough without being hungry and thirsty, too.