Whether you’re driving home for Christmas or escaping the UK for some winter sun, it pays to be prepared for unexpected travel problems.
From delayed flights or trains due to bad weather to dealing with lost luggage, here CashLady looks at the most common things that can go wrong while you’re on the move, and how to cope with them.
Unexpected travel problems and the importance of insurance
Preparation is the key to helping overcome many unexpected travel problems.
If you are planning a trip then travel insurance will protect you against many eventualities, helping ensure that you are not out of pocket should something go wrong, such as becoming ill on while away or facing a cancellation.
Delayed or cancelled travel due to bad weather
Winter travel is prone to disruption during bad weather, with all modes of travel affected, including flights, train journeys and going by car.
Checking for travel updates and making alternative plans in advance will help you cope should your flight or train be cancelled.
If you’re travelling with children, have lots of snacks on hand, plus some travel games and fully charged phones or laptops to help keep them entertained as you wait for news.
Travelling by air
If you have a flight booked, check with your airline and airport well before leaving home for updates and advice on disruption to flights, including delays and cancellations.
When travelling to the airport allow extra time for your journey if conditions are bad, especially if you are going by car, and ensure that your anti-freeze, oil and fuel is topped up.
If you miss your flight due to road conditions, then it is your responsibility and the airline will charge you for a new flight.
Missed flight cover is a useful travel insurance policy that would help cover this.
If your flight is cancelled, you have the legal right to a full refund or a replacement flight to get you to your destination.
You may also be able to claim compensation if your flight is delayed for three hours or more and you’re flying from or to a European airport, or with an EU-based airline.
Read more about what you’re entitled to here.
Travelling by rail
Train companies publish details of delays and changes to schedules online so keep an eye on their website, particularly if you suspect that bad weather could cause problems.
Citizens Advice advise that you can get a full refund if your train journey is cancelled, plus many train companies offer partial refunds for delay under ‘Delay Repay.’
You can still get compensation under the ‘National Rail Conditions of Carriage’ if your train company doesn’t offer Delay Repay, but it likely won’t offer the same amount of refund.
Travelling by car
The Christmas holidays are a busy time for the roads, with possible delays due to bad weather conditions or accidents.
Don’t travel if it isn’t advised and keep a winter kit in your car in case you get stuck, include warm clothes, water and snacks.
Unexpected Travel Problems: Lost luggage
If you manage to get away on holiday, but your luggage doesn’t, then a lack of holiday essentials, such as ski or swimwear, can cause problems.
The good news is that thanks to improved technology, most missing suitcases don’t stay missing for long and your suitcase will usually be found by your airline and brought to you within a matter of hours, or in some cases, days.
Before you travel, take a photo of your luggage and ensure that you have a tag on it with your full name and address.
If you find that your bag is missing when you go to collect it then report the problem straight away by going to the airline desk, usually in the baggage reclaim hall, where you can fill out a report and get the details for keeping track of the airline’s search.
The Civil Aviation Authority outlines what you are entitled to should you have to purchase replacement items while you wait for the return of your luggage.
Lost luggage and damaged luggage may also be covered by your travel insurance.