Many travel insurance policies exclude the payment of insurance in the event of cancellation or delay of flights due to strikes.
“Due to the strike, the flight has been canceled – we apologize for the inconvenience” – what now?
The Polish representation of U18 athletes at the European Championships spent the night at Warsaw airport just before the trip. Bad weather conditions were the main reason for the flight delay for the athletes to reach Tel Aviv. However, the situation was also affected by the poor state of the aviation industry – mainly due to overload.
There have been many similar situations across Europe in recent times – severely delayed or canceled flights. In fact, as reported by RadarBox.com, in one quarter (April to June) twice as many flights were canceled on the Old Continent as in the US, and as of June there were nearly 7,900 flights from France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United States. UK. The expert explains what is going on in the industry and what disappointed passengers can do in such a situation.
“Why isn’t this plane taking off – what’s going on?”
The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for carriers. In 2020 alone, at least 30 airlines closed their operations. Everyone else cut jobs or introduced pay cuts due to the easing of air traffic. Many of the laid-off workers have found employment elsewhere or retrained, which is now taking its toll – not just on airlines or airport authorities – but especially on passengers.
– More or less since May of this year, air traffic has increased significantly. This is the result of the start of the holiday season, which especially tourists all over Europe look forward to. This is the first holiday period in two years in which restrictions related to the pandemic have been significantly lifted. So it’s no surprise that we travel so busy, says Marcin Maciejewski, president of DalayFix, a Polish law firm that specializes in airline compensation for delayed or canceled flights. – Travelers can unfortunately experience major problems at airports all over Europe. This is the aftermath of the reduction in airport and ground handling activities during the pandemic. Many carriers failed to fill staff shortages or restore regular wages, sparking a wave of strikes. Our information also shows that one of the Hungarian airlines has been recruiting for many months, while no candidate has appeared in the last two recruitments. This situation causes paralysis of air traffic. Currently, there are also problems caused by weather conditions, including, as in Luton, the runway failure – he adds.
Strikes at European airports
Until recently, Poles were concerned with reports of protests from Polish air traffic controllers. The situation was difficult as they called for pay increases and, among other things, the reinstatement of appropriate security procedures, which were relaxed during the pandemic due to limited air traffic. Poland was threatened with a complete stop of land traffic, but the situation was brought under control.
However, there were numerous protests and strikes among the airlines, including: Ryanair, Wizz Air or easyJet. The daily Bild also reported that Lufthansa planned to cancel 2,200 flights in July and August. In July alone, German airlines removed 900 domestic and intracontinental flights from Frankfurt and Munich. In addition, the CEO of these airlines said that this situation will most likely continue until the end of 2022. The cancellation of single flights should reduce the bottleneck and standardize flight schedules.
– Passengers face significant difficulties due to numerous flight cancellations, often long delays or very lengthy checks, resulting from significant staff shortages and airport congestion. Such challenges not only face smaller, but also larger airports, e.g. Schiphol in Amsterdam, Heathrow in London or Charles de Gaulle in Paris. The Danes, Spaniards, Portuguese, Belgians, Italians, Swedes and Norwegians also have problems with the traffic flow – summarizes Marcin Maciejewski of DelayFix.
Travelers left in the ice?
The solution that Poles eagerly opted for when traveling during the pandemic was travel insurance in the event of trip cancellation. Summarizing for 2021, Mondial Assistance said it has achieved record sales of this type of policy – approximately 75,000 contracts covering the protection of approximately 225,000 tourists. So, estimating that 2022 will bring even more interest in such insurance, especially since, as indicated in the Accor Northern Europe report, a whopping 53% of Poles want to travel more this year than before the pandemic.
– What is worth highlighting, insurance on discharge from the trip is a great solution in a situation where a tourist gets sick at the last minute or some other unpredictable event occurs that prevents the trip. However, after analyzing dozens of travel insurance offers available in the multi-agency, I can say that most insurers exclude strikes of airport or airline personnel in the terms and conditions of such insurance, meaning that possible claims for a canceled flight can only be are pursued by the carrier. I would recommend that you check if there is such a provision in our policy, if we are planning a trip in the near future – explains Izabela Szymańska, CUK Ubezpieczenia expert.
– If our insurance does not cover situations where a flight is delayed or canceled due to an airport or airline strike, we must always claim the value of the tickets purchased. In addition, if we are not notified of the flight cancellation 14 days before departure, we can also claim compensation for the losses incurred – adds the president of DelayFix.
Chance of compensation for canceled flight
The scale of the difficulties across Europe is so great that carriers can no longer calm the situation. In official announcements they warn passengers about the inconveniences, inform them about the payment of the value of tickets in the form of vouchers and, among other things, they appeal to o limit yourself to only carrying hand luggage, due to the increased risk of missing out of suitcases.
As the expert emphasizes – the airlines strongly urge to accept compensation for the canceled flight in the form of a voucher corresponding to 120% of the ticket value – to be used for subsequent flights. This situation leads to the waiver of further claims by the customer against the carrier. From the perspective of the injured party, this is often an unprofitable situation, so the expert proposes not to accept this form of compensation.
– Such advice and actions are not enough. Our experience has shown that timely vouchers are not an adequate form of compensation for many victims, because their obligations prevent them from finding time for another holiday in the near future, as a result of which the vouchers expire. Often, travel also involves additional – travel-related costs – incl. hotel for animals, which is not included in such a voucher. In addition, passengers often do not know that they can request cashback and possible compensation. In such situations, I would recommend taking the support of attorneys who specialize in pursuing such claims – summarizes Marcin Maciejewski, president of DelayFix.