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What you're owed if Jetstar strikes have grounded your holiday

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Jetstar staff walked off the job this week, grounding the flights and travel plans of hundreds of Aussies.

While such developments are beyond the control of travellers, there are still things they can do to guard against the financial costs if not the logistical costs.

In the case of the Jetstar disruption, travellers have been offered full refunds, alternative flights, and accommodation for those taking overnight flights. But travellers may be able to get further assistance from insurers.

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"Mid-range to comprehensive travel insurance will usually provide compensation for any lost, prepaid travel or accommodation costs incurred as a result of airline strikes. The pre-Christmas season can be both costly and stressful and we would urge travellers to consider travel insurance to avoid huge out of -pocket expenses," says Natalie Ball, director at Comparetravelinsurance.com.au.

Ball recommends travellers book travel insurance ahead of their holidays.

"During peak travel seasons we advise travellers to buy cover as soon as they've made any payments for their upcoming holiday. Just remember that if you're aware of an imminent strike that could affect your trip and you hadn't yet bought insurance; it may be too late to claim for any related delays."

Purchasing travel insurance too late in the game can lead to denied claims in the event of disruption.

"Jetstar's strikes were announced on December 6 and customers would have been immediately alerted and made aware of any imminent cancellations.

"Insurer's cut-off dates may vary, but cover will usually only apply if you purchased your policy before you became aware of the likelihood of a major travel disruption."

Ball notes that travellers should be aware of their policy details as not all insurers cover strikes and civil unrest.

"Look out for any exclusions that may apply to your cover and take note that buying 'sooner rather than later' could be the clincher."

The right comprehensive travel insurance can even cover broader holiday costs, such as prepaid events.

"A comprehensive policy will often cover your alternative travel expenses to reach a planned event on time if your scheduled transport is delayed or cancelled," says Ball.

"This can apply to events such as weddings, conferences or planned tours, where timing is of the essence. Be aware however, that such claims would be assessed on a case-by-case basis."

It's also a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket by booking the same airline on all the legs of the flight.

"That way, your airline is responsible for getting you on to your next flight. Purchasing separate flights may be the cheaper option but you could end up hugely out of pocket if you miss your connection," says Ball.

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David Thornton is a journalist at Money magazine. He previously worked at Your Money, covering market news as producer of Trading Day Live. Before that, he covered business and finance news at The Constant Investor. David holds a Masters of International Relations from the University of Melbourne.
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