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Insurance Article

Flight Delays and Cancellations: A Personal Account

June 15 2016
Cancelled flights can derail your plans

The impactful figures

I was invited to head a conference on public health at Offenbach, Germany and had booked a round-trip ticket from Chennai. On reaching the international airport, I came to know that my flight had been cancelled due to harsh weather, leading to much distress.

This was not the first time I was facing such a panic-inducing situation. On 25th December 2015, I was stuck in Beijing due to hazardous smog blanketing. More than 220 flights were cancelled at Beijing's Capital International Airport.

Of course, the meeting had to be cancelled and re-scheduled after few days. But hours of planning, man-force and monetary investments were wasted never to be regained. I also incurred major losses of ₹50,000 for the flight ticket and ₹25,000 for accommodation and other expenses. Unfortunately, I was not covered by travel insurance.

This led me to take a closer look at the grim picture of flight operations. As per data collected from flightstats.com, I compiled the following chart outlining the performance of some global airlines in May 2016, which are:

Airline Flights On-time % Average delay %
AVIANCA 22480 85.4 54.9
British Airways 32639 74 42.9
Cathay Pacific 8116 79.92 53.6
Delta Air lines 163115 87.93 59.3
Emirates 16324 83.13 35.1
LAN airlines 18134 81.51 48.5
SWISS 13035 77.12 31.6
EgyptAir 7010 67.5 48.6
Pakistan International Airlines 4227 68.5 59.9
Asiana Airlines 9122 64.16 37.8
Qatar Airways 15390 87.58 36.5
Thomson 6140 68.77 48.4
United Airlines 139845 83.14 66.1
Sri Lankan Airlines 2837 79.17 43.8
Total/Average 458414 77.7 47.64

From the statistics mentioned above, one can infer that on an average, 47.64% of flights were delayed globally in that period. The loss incurred due to this in terms of money, time and manpower is immense and cannot be recovered.

The most probable reasons for flight cancellations and delays are:

  • Weather – harsh environmental calamities such as tornado, blizzard or a hurricane
  • Air carrier – maintenance or crew problem, baggage loading, fuelling issues
  • National Aviation System – airport operations, heavy traffic volume, air traffic control
  • Other miscellaneous reasons – late arrival of aircraft, security threats

One can conclude that it is prudent to protect yourself from such unanticipated losses with an insurance cover. It protects you in case of trip delays and cancellations, be it due to bad weather or technical issues. It also covers you for trip interruptions, loss of baggage and passport, unexpected hospitalisation and hotel accommodations. The next time you plan a business or a casual trip, remember that your insurance provider is a call away to insure your travel.

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