I am sure you have all experienced some kind of flight delay in your travels, but a 72-hour flight delay is more than an inconvenience.
That was the fate of 225 United Airlines passengers stranded in Shanghai for three days while they waited for a 13-hour international flight to Newark. The gist of the story is that United flight 87 was scheduled to fly from Shanghai to Newark, but the Boeing 777 was delayed because of maintenance, then delayed again because of the same maintenance problem, and then a third flight was canceled because the flight crew had been on duty too long. During the course of the delays passengers’ luggage was dumped for collection in baggage claim where a fistfight broke out, and one United agent was physically dragged from behind the counter by his tie and slapped repeatedly.
There are a number of observations about this incident:
First, shame on United Airlines! Granted, they put the passengers up in a hotel and undoubtedly provided food vouchers as well, something the airline is not obliged to do when operating outside the United States. And each passenger received $1,000 travel voucher. However, United should have been able to deal with this problem in less than 72 hours, either by bringing in another plane or rebooking passengers on alternate carriers, especially in Shanghai.
Second, shame on the passengers of flight 87! There is never an excuse to resort to violence, and loud complaints and acts of protest don’t help their cause. Gate agents are not responsible nor in control of delays, so it is pointless getting angry with them. Airlines also have the right to refuse service to anyone, especially if they are unruly. Constructive complaints are one thing but throwing a temper tantrum seldom pays off. When you are in the hands of the air carriers it pays to be nice, and they really do want to help you.
Third, most of our travel insurance plans would have solved so many of these problems. All the coverage we offer at TripInsurance.com includes travel interruption coverage. Many times bad weather conditions will strand you, which is the most common kind of trip interruption claim, but extended delays are covered as well. Most coverage is invoked after a delay ranging from 5 to 8 hours, and if you have an airplane go out of service, chances are that booking a hotel or another flight or both would be covered by your travel insurance.
So if you find yourself in an extended flight delay and have insurance coverage, there are some simple steps you take to get home faster.
You need to determine when the airline, air traffic, and the flight crew have to make a decision as to whether the flight is going to be cancelled. There usually is a set time for a cancellation decision and if you ask the gate agent politely, he or she will probably tell you when they expect an answer. At the same time, make a reservation on another flight right away. If the flight is cancelled and you can go to the gate agent and request a new flight, explaining you already have a reservation booked, it’s much easier to get the funds transferred to the new flight. Any ticket costs could be covered by the existing ticket and may be covered by your travel insurance. If you are proactive, you can beat the rush when you find 300 passengers are trying to get on the same backup flights.
And if you have insurance from TripInsurance.com, you can always get help. We offer 24/7 telephone support so you can call to verify you are covered for a travel delay, and even get assistance making new travel arrangements.
After all, insurance is only valuable if it gives you peace of mind and helps you when you need help. That’s why more travelers buy coverage from TripInsurance.com, because we are here when you need us.