How to survive Easter travel delays
An estimated 2.7m Easter getaways will be made this Good Friday alone, so if you’re heading off on a break, make sure you’re prepared for potential delays.
According to research by the RAC and transport analytics experts Inrix, drivers are set to embark on up to 17m leisure trips by car over the bank holiday period, with Good Friday and Easter Sunday seeing the highest number of journeys made. Large numbers of holidaymakers will also be heading to airports, with industrial action at Heathrow Airport and strike by French air traffic controllers both expected to cause delays and disruption.
Although there’s very little any of us can do to prevent delays, there are a few steps we can take to make any hold ups less painful. It’s a good idea, for example, if you’re travelling by car, to pack a bag with snacks and drinks, and maybe a couple of games for back seat passengers to while away the time. If you’ve got young children, keep the sweet stuff to a minimum – as most parents will know only too well, a sugar rush in a traffic jam is never pretty.
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You should also carry out a few car checks before taking to the road. Rod Dennis, RAC spokesman said: “No one wants a breakdown to get in the way of enjoying a well-earned break, so it’s a good idea to check tyres have plenty of tread and are properly inflated, and that oil, coolant and screenwash are all at the right levels under the bonnet. Following this advice can significantly reduce the chances of breaking down.”
Flight delays – your rights
If you’re flying over the Easter break, and are affected by strikes by air traffic controllers, airport staff or ground handlers, unfortunately you won’t usually be able to get compensation from your airline, as any action they take is beyond the airline’s control.
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However, if you bought travel insurance before any announcement about strikes had been made, then you may be covered for any delays the action causes. If you only bought cover after the strikes were announced, though, you won't be able to claim.
Even though you might not be able to get compensation, your airline is still expected to provide ‘reasonable care and assistance’ at the airport if you’re delayed. For example, you should receive an amount of food and drink relative to the time you’ve been delayed. They should offer you a full refund if your flight is cancelled, or you can ask for one if your flight is delayed for five hours or longer.
If you haven’t yet bought travel insurance, make sure you take out cover as soon as possible, as even if you won’t be protected against delays caused by strike action, it can provide valuable peace of mind that you won’t lose out financially if you have to cancel your trip due to illness or injury, if you need medical treatment while you’re away, or if your baggage is lost or stolen.
Always check policy cover limits carefully before buying to ensure that you have sufficient protection in place - the very cheapest travel insurance may not offer sufficient cover.
The best policies will include financial failure cover which will protect you against the insolvency of airlines and the other end suppliers of your trip. This is especially important if you haven’t booked a package holiday. Package holidays provide you with Air Travel Organisers Licence protection or similar which will cover you if the tour operator goes out of business. But if you are booking directly with an airline, or are staying with friends or relatives while you are away, you won’t have this protection, so insurance which includes it is vital.
Helen Phipps, director at comparison site Comparethemarket, said: “Many of us are really looking forward to getting away on holiday to escape the pressures we’re all facing right now. Travel insurance can be a good way to protect your holiday plans and help ensure you receive the right support if something goes wrong before or during your trip.”