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Peter Hayman comments on a dreadful year for Britain’s travellers

Snow caps a miserable year for travellers says P.J. Hayman

“The latest walk out by Spanish Air Traffic Controllers underlines what a dreadful year 2010 has been for British travellers. The year has been bookended by exceptional snow and ice which caused huge disruption, as did the ash cloud in April. Strikes have added to the misery with a series of actions by British Airways (BA) Cabin Crew during March, May and June. Protests in France, Greece and Belgium added to the list of problems which has seen a total of 12 delay events* so far, with the end of 2010 just in sight.

“Whilst airlines and tour operators have primary responsibility, travel insurance still plays its part. However, many people do not check that their policy provides this protection. Delay cover is often not included in the lower priced policies.

“Travel delay and disruption cover will usually provide for a fixed sum for each 12 hours of delay or allow you to cancel your trip if delays exceed 12 or 24 hours. Some will go further and cover additional costs if public transport fails to get you to your departure point on time. Missed connection costs are not covered by many policies but are increasingly important if travellers seek to save on their flight costs by using European hubs to avoid the new high rates of Air Passenger Duty.

“It is important for people to check that they have the cover they expect. Price comparison sites in particular tend to highlight medical, cancellation and baggage cover but to view other sections, including delay, you usually have to check the policy wording in detail. Next year looks as though it may start with further problems at BA so it is important to buy travel insurance when you book as no cover will apply once a potential problem is known.”