What should I do if there's a flight delay?

What should I do if there's a flight delay?

For those who frequently travel by plane on holiday or business trips, you’ve probably experienced first-hand the frequency with which airlines tend to delay flights.

Delays in schedule aren’t usually a big deal. However, a delayed flight can become a jarring experience when the waiting time becomes too extended, giving rise to many unexpected added costs.

Usually a delay of a few hours means that you’ll just spend some extra time at the airport lounge but, what happens when the delay lasts for hours or even days?

As a solo traveler, the extra costs of staying an additional night outside of Singapore might not seem like much. But as a traveling family, this is a whole different story, as you may find yourself with a sudden spike in expenses that were never budgeted for.

Can I take this up with my travel insurance company?

Yes, travel insurance coverage in Singapore will usually protect you against delayed flights.

You do get travel insurance whenever you go on a trip, right? If not, please do yourself a favour.

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Single-trip insurance will cover incidents arising from the leg of the trip you're on. There's also multi-trip insurance that protects you from delays occurring within any of the trips during the insured period.

Flight delays are also covered but it needs to fall under a stipulated number of hours (usually 6-12 hours). After which, you will be eligible for reimbursement by your travel insurance policy.

Insurance coverage usually assigns you a daily limit per person, meaning that if you’re travelling as a family, every person under the policy will be assigned a set amount per day of delay until the policy limit has been reached.

How do I make a delayed flight claim to my travel insurance?

  • Gather all your flight details such as flight itinerary, boarding pass, and passport stamps.
  • Get a document or report issued by your airline confirming the flight delay, cause and the amount of time it is expected to last.
  • Contact your travel insurance company through their customer hotline to let them know of the situation so they can forward you any more relevant documentation or forms.
  • You can also contact them after you’ve arrived home; however, the sooner you contact them, the better.
  • Send them your flight info as well as the airline’s delay report. Make sure to back up your expenses with receipts.

Travel insurance, as you can see, is crucial for situations such as this. Finding one that suits your travel plans, however, could take a while. Fortunately for you, it's pretty easy since we've done most of the legwork.

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Besides travel insurance, check with the airline for your entitlements

The compensation or care given by the airline will depend on the ticket’s term and conditions, and company policies.

Some airlines might be quick to offer you some compensation, either monetary, meal and overnight hotel accommodations as per their customer service policies.

Others might simply offer you the chance for a reimbursement after filing your claim with the required documentation and receipts, as long as the costs of meal and hotel accommodations are deemed reasonable.

Finally, some airlines may simply offer you no compensation or accommodation at all. Since airlines cannot fully guarantee delay-free schedules, they aren’t particularly obligated to compensate customers for delayed flights.

Do all airlines give the same care during a flight delay?

Although the previous outlook may seem somewhat grim, the good news is that most Asian airlines, including Singapore’s national carrier, Singapore Airlines, usually provide some form of compensation under their customer service policies.

This includes providing free refreshments and meals to their delayed customers or in the form of meal allowances. If the delay is expected to last overnight, free hotel accommodations and transport might be provided too.

Keep in mind that these accommodations will only be made available by Singapore Airlines (and Asian airlines in general) if the delay was due to circumstances within the airline’s control such as technical problems, underbooking or a late/understaffed crew.

Accommodations may not apply if the reason behind the delay was by force majeure such as:

  • Natural disasters
  • Bad flight weather
  • Political or civil unrest
  • Safety risk precautions taken by a regulating entity
  • Security issues such as war or acts of terrorism

So, before signing up, remember to always read the airline’s policies regarding delayed flights, and always keep your receipts if your flight happens to be delayed.