Check Your Travel Insurance If You’re Flying with Non-EU Airline Outside the EU

Written by Karen Bryan

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viewfromplaneAs the vast majority of my air travel has been within Europe, I’ve been covered by EC 261/2004 duty of care regulation. This legislation means that an airline departing from an EU airport or any EU based airline has to reimburse your expenses if your flight is delayed or cancelled and re-route your flight.

This covered us when ash cloud led to the cancellation of our Ryanair flight from Malta to Edinburgh on 2011. I was able to go online and book seats (without additional payment) on the next Malta to Edinburgh flight two days later. Ryanair reimbursed us for 2 nights half board accommodation and a taxi to the airport.

However, when I read about the possible eruption of the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland three weeks before we were due to fly from Edinburgh to Chicago with United Airlines, I thought I’d better check out the situation if there were ash cloud delays.

It appeared that we’d be covered for a delay or cancellation of the outward flight departing from Edinburgh (an EU airport). However, if our United flight from Chicago to Edinburgh was delayed or cancelled, it looked as though United wouldn’t be obliged to cover our expenses.

If our flight had been with British Airways, or any other EU based airline, then we would have been covered.

Therefore, if you are flying with a non-EU airline from a non-EU destination, you need to check that your travel insurance will cover you for delay of cancellation. This gets a bit complicated, as not all travel insurance policies include ash cloud cover in their standard delay and cancellation cover. Some do, others list it as an optional add-on.

If your departure is imminent and you don’t have ash cloud cover, but potential ash cloud disruption has been reported in the media, you may not able to purchase ash cloud cover.

I recommend that you buy insurance which includes any possible travel disruption if you are travelling outside the EU on a non-EU carrier. If you don’t, you could end up thousands of pounds out of pocket, e.g. a hotel booked at short notice during peak season in a major US city could cost £200 a night.