With airlines cutting back on the number of scheduled flights and using smaller, more fuel efficient planes, weather delays create more than just an inconvenience. Summer storms usually pass through quickly, but it’s often impossible to get on another flight until the following day. You're separated from your checked baggage, faced with where to sleep overnight, and having to lay out money for food and incidentals.
If you have included your travel documents, medications, toiletries, and a change of clothing in your carry-on bag, you are better prepared to “weather the storm.” Keep in mind, however, that with weather delays and cancellations – unlike those caused by mechanical problems – airlines are not required to provide assistance. In some cases the airline may refer you to a phone number or web site for discount accommodations, but they will not pay for your hotel or any associated expenses. That's where travel insurance can help save the day.
If you are stranded because of a weather delay or cancellation:
- The 24-hour assistance hotline will help you locate a hotel room, help track your baggage so that it can be located upon your arrival, help facilitate the rebooking process, and notify family and business of your delay.
- Travel insurance will reimburse you for hotel and food expenses up to a set amount, depending on the policy.
If you have purchased travel insurance, be sure to carry the service numbers with you so that you can promptly contact the insurance company for assistance. Be sure to keep receipts for all expenses associated with a covered flight delay or cancellation.