How to be smart about travel delays

Posted Date: 07 November 2014

It might seem a little bit pessimistic to have a plan for if or when your flight is delayed or cancelled, but if you’ve ever been in that unfortunate situation before, you’ll know that it pays to be prepared – both figuratively and financially.


Although you may be tempted to sit back and expect the best after you’ve booked your flights, it’s important to educate yourself and your fellow travellers about how you can prepare for a cancellation and minimise the risk of encountering a delay.

Expected weather conditions

Southern Cross Travel Insurance offers great benefits and coverage on all of our policies for travel delay and interruption in the case of an unexpected event (make sure you read our PDS including policy wording for the definition of ‘unexpected’), however you should always be logical and cautious in your approach to booking your itinerary.

According to information from Brisbane Airport, alongside tight schedules at peak times, serious weather conditions are often the cause of travel delays for Australian travellers.

Take some time researching the local weather conditions at your destination at the time of the year you plan to visit to lower the risk of experiencing a travel delay. Refrain from booking a flight into a mountainous storm-prone region if historic flight data shows lots of previous cancellations due to poor visibility, or reconsider flying into a small airport on a tropical island renowned for heavy rainfall throughout monsoon season. 

Weather conditions are readily available on the Internet so if you’re on a tight schedule don’t take any chances with Mother Nature. She can be pretty difficult to reason with when it comes to your safety.

Fly off-peak and originator flights

As air travel has become more affordable over the past decade, weekend getaways and home visits for business people are becoming more accessible to larger numbers of flyers. A recent Australian Domestic Airline Activity Report shows a 4.7% growth in the number of passengers flying in or out of Sydney Airport to its most popular international route, Auckland, New Zealand. Aging airport infrastructure can often be less efficient when factoring in these higher volumes of passengers during peak times.

To combat this swell, opt to fly during the week at off-peak times. Generally speaking Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are considered off-peak days, often with cheaper fares too.

If you’re unable to depart mid-week, you may wish to consider booking an originator flight.

An originator flight is one that begins its route in your city, meaning it is not a connecting flight that stops over at your port of departure. These flights are less likely to encounter a delay because they aren’t dependent on another aircraft arriving on time. If you’re unsure if your selected flight is an originator you will be able to find out this information by calling your airline.


Travel with carry on luggage only

Although travel delays or cancellations are always inconvenient, they can be made even more onerous if you have to deal with transferring your luggage. In the event that you encounter a delay and have to be transferred to an existing flight, you will appreciate being able to take off as soon as possible if you travel with carry-on luggage only.

If you require more room and have to check your things in, pack a second set of clothes in your carry-on in case your luggage cannot be located in time for your reassigned flight. If, as a result of an unexpected event, your luggage is delayed, Southern Cross Travel Insurance may reimburse you for the actual and reasonable cost of purchasing essential items.  Feel free to give us a call on +61 2 8216 0200 should this happen to you.

Travel Insurance

Of course, the best preventative measure and the ultimate way to minimise the impact that a travel delay can have on your trip, is to always purchase travel insurance. Each year we handle plenty  of insurance claims related to travel delay or interruption..

For those travelling internationally for a wedding, funeral, conference, concert, show, festival or sporting event we highly recommend taking travel insurance to ensure that you are covered financially, should you miss your special event.

For a full list of benefits and instant quote visit

For further information about Travel Insurance visit the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Smart Traveller.



Dealing with a delay

Despite being as prepared as possible, sometimes there is simply nothing that can be done to avoid being stuck at an airport due to a delay - think global events like terrorist attacks and volcano eruptions. Before you depart, familiarise yourself with how you should cope if you are confronted by a delay.

Go online or contact your airline

If possible, make contact with airline staff at the counter for specific instructions. Make sure to get any statements in writing in case you need to provide proof for an insurance claim upon return.

Although lines for information may be exceedingly long in peak holiday periods, most airlines will likely communicate with delayed passengers via email. If you do not receive instructions in your inbox you may wish to go online and log into your Frequent Flyers or passenger account which may include details about your rescheduled flight and compensation or your next available boarding opportunity.

If you are looking for a broader perspective on why delays may be occurring across large international flight networks you may wish to turn to social media such as Twitter or Facebook.

Alter your itinerary

Depending on your situation, one of the first things you may need to do is change your itinerary so that the rest of your trip is unaffected. For travellers who have organised their plans with a travel agent, contact them and request that they change your plans. Alternatively, you can do this yourself directly with the carrier. If you will be delayed overnight remember to notify your accommodation as soon as possible, which may save you having to pay for the night.

Document all of your payments and keep receipts in case you need these to make a claim from either the transport provider or travel insurance company in the future.

Ask for compensation

When mechanical fault, overbooking, maintenance, repairs, rescheduling or service faults result in a delay, the airline should issue compensation to travellers. In any case, it may be worth investigating whether the carrier will issue you meal vouchers or accommodation no matter what the reason, as in previous instances this has sometimes been done out of goodwill.

Making a claim

Our online claims process makes it extremely easy for Southern Cross Travel Insurance customers to make a claim. Our friendly team of staff are also available to help advise you if you should you require assistance.

Related Articles

Keep money and documents safe

Keep money safe when travelling overseas

Take some extra precautions to keep your money and travel documents safe while travelling overseas. read more

Clearing customs like a pro

Clearing customs like a pro

Want to avoid the long waits at the airport? Here’s some advice from the experts on how to clear customs like a pro. read more

Airport scams advice

Airport scams and how to avoid them

From currency converters to accommodation transfers, here are the top airport scams to watch out for! read more