01.Know your travel rights
We wish the best for the future of the flying kangaroo, but with Qantas facing another round of downsizing, it's a good time to understand your rights in the event of a service disruption. If you get stranded, common traveller entitlements from the airline include:
- Reasonable additional food, accommodation and travel expenses.
- Cover for cancellation or the rearrangement of your journey or the unused portions of your journey (it may help to contact your travel agent or travel provider about the best approach and how to avoid penalties from the travel provider).
If you are stranded:
- Minimise your expenses. Re-arrangements should stay within the general daily budget of your originally scheduled journey.
- Submit your travel insurance claim as soon as possible or practicable with all supporting documentation, including receipts for any additional transport, food or accommodation expenses, receipts for your original pre-paid arrangements, and advice from the travel provider about any non-refundable portion of the journey.
- Any compensation and/or refunds you receive from a third party for transport, food or accommodation will generally be deducted from any settlement if your claim is accepted.
- Your travel insurance cover may be affected if you are travelling to or from areas DFAT considers high risk.
Travel insurance check
Passengers worried about another round of Qantas disruptions may well be wondering how their travel insurance will hold up under such circumstances.
As CHOICE has highlighted in previous coverage, insurance companies define cancellation cover in different ways and policy exclusions vary widely when it comes to travel.
Some Product Disclosure Documents (PDSs) explicitly state that cancellations caused by the carrier – such as industrial actions – are not covered. Others say the insurer covers strikes in one section of the PDS, but the wording can get hazy in other sections of the same PDS, where cover can be denied if the carrier fails to fulfil its obligations for a variety of reasons.
Following the Qantas groundings in 2011, insurers stipulated that cancellations cover would only apply to policies purchased before the actions started, a date that was hard to pin down. (Worldcare, for instance, put the date at 13 October 2011, while 1cover – an Allianz product – issued an alert applying to travel insurance policies issued before 10.00am (EST) 26 October 2011).
In a statement that’s typical of what insurers told policyholders regarding the Qantas situation, Worldcare said “we will assess all claims in accordance with your Product Disclosure Statement and your cover will depend on the type of plan you purchased and your particular circumstances”. (Generally, though, Worldcare did cover cancellation at the time.)
In our latest travel insurance review, cancellation cover was the second most important weighting criteria for our overall ratings scale (medical cover was first) – so insurers toward the top end of our scale tend to provide good cancellation cover.