Does my insurance cover the drone disruption at Heathrow?
What am I entitled to by law? Can I claim? And can I get any compensation?
This is the question on a lot of people’s minds at the moment! And different media have given different answers, some right but some misleading. Let’s try to break this down clearly.
Part 1: What’s happened
The drone disruption at Heathrow (and previously Gatwick) resulted in the airspace being closed due to safety concerns.
The incident isn’t your airline's fault and it’s not the airport's fault either. It’s considered an “extraordinary circumstance”.
So, we have an airspace closure, due to an extraordinary circumstance.
Part 2: EU law
Under EU law, with the above in mind, you’re entitled to the following.
If your flight is cancelled:
- An alternative flight or full refund
- Reasonable* food, drink and communication expenses while you wait for your new flight
- Reasonable* accommodation and transport costs if you have to wait overnight for your new flight
If your flight is delayed:
- Reasonable* food, drink and communication expenses (after 2 – 4 hours, depending on how far your flight is)
- Reasonable* accommodation and transport costs if you have an overnight delay
- A full refund, if you chose to cancel your flight after a 5-hour delay
Reasonable is the official term and it’s hard to define exactly what it is, we get that. But think more a dinner at Nandos rather than a bottle of champagne and steak dinner, or the local Premier Inn rather than the Ritz.
But unfortunately, no additional compensation (because it’s not the airline's fault).
Part 3: Your travel insurance
Specifically, how your travel insurance can help. Let’s focus on the things you’ve paid already. Things like accommodation, car hire, pre-paid costs. Anything you can’t get refunded.
The problem here is that most insurers will have an exclusion for these very unpredictable scenarios, they will refer to this scenario as “airspace closure”. This is what you want to search for in your policy wording.
At Pluto, we give you the option to extend the reasons your trip can be disrupted, aptly named “Extended travel disruption”. We like to keep things simple. If you had this, you’d be covered, if not you wouldn’t.
We hope this explainer helped and your holiday plans aren’t disrupted too badly.