Are travellers set for more ash cloud misery?

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delayed and cancelled airline flight board

The Icelandic ash cloud is hogging headlines again, over a year since the chaos all began. In April last year, 34 countries shut their airspace after the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted. Planes were halted due to fears that fine ash particles could disrupt jet engines.

Now there are fresh warnings emerging that the ash cloud is heading for the UK. If the ash hits us this week, we could potentially see the UK’s airspace shut down. The Met Office has said it could be upon us as soon as tomorrow morning.

The warnings are based on 5 day weather forecasts, but as wind patterns are constantly shifting – there’s a chance the ash could, fingers crossed, be swept away from the UK.

The eruption of Iceland’s biggest volcano, Grimsvotn, has already proved a massive blow to the aviation industry. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated that the global airline industry lost £130 million a day during the disruption last year.

Many people were left disappointed as holidays and trips were cancelled last year due to the no-fly zone. Many travellers were also left out-of-pocket when their travel insurance failed to pick up the bill for their lost money.

With bank holiday travels fast approaching, people are of course worried about more possible delays and cancellations to come. With this in mind, it’s important to check your travel insurance documents to make sure you understand exactly what you’re covered for.

Policies can differ considerably between different providers, so it’s essential you know what you have purchased. If in any doubt, always speak to your insurer directly.

Some policies may cover ash cloud disruption under ‘delays and abandonment.’ There are likely to be certain terms and conditions attached to the cover, for example – you may only be able to claim for cancellation if airspace has been closed for more than 24 hours from the time stated on your travel ticket.

Of course, any travel insurance taken out after an airspace ban has been enforced is not likely to pay out at all.

Check to see exactly what would be covered under your policy. Would it cover alternative travel arrangements if airports were closed? Would it help with unexpected accommodation costs if you were forced to stay abroad (because your home airport was shut)?

Some insurers may offer optional ‘add-on’ insurance which is designed to cover you in the event of airspace or airport closure. This may cost extra but could prove a real holiday essential.

Hopefully, weather patterns will prove favourable and the ash cloud will not descend, but it’s another good reason to give your policy documents a thorough read-through!

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.