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One-third of Canadian plane travellers have changed plans due to airport delays: survey

July 28, 2022
6 mins
woman standing at airport looking at travel delays

Key findings:

After a two-year hiatus, the demand for travel has officially returned in Canada. As of June, the number of Canadians returning from abroad by plane was more than 15 times greater than the year prior, largely due to an easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions. However, the recent surge in travellers has been met with short-staffed airlines — and as a result — flight delays, long lines, and lost luggage.

According to a recent Leger survey conducted on behalf of RATESDOTCA and BNN Bloomberg, 35% of potential plane travellers have made changes to their travel plans due to delayed or cancelled flights and long lines at airports. And a whopping 78% of those who’ve had to make changes to their travel plans due to airline complications intend to purchase travel insurance for their next trip for good measure.

With delays and cancellations expected to continue for months, some Canadians are thinking twice before setting off without adequate coverage.

One-third of potential plane travellers changed travel plans due to airport delays

Most Canadians plan on travelling this year by plane or car (54%). However, one third (35%) of potential plane travellers have made changes in their travel plans due to delayed or cancelled flights and long lines at airports. Of this third, 56% have delayed travel plans, 18% have changed their destination, and 13% decided to drive somewhere instead.

“We are seeing many travellers choosing to travel by car or staying within Canada, so it is important to understand there is still a need for travel insurance, even when staying closer to home,” Louiselle Landry, business development manager at TuGo Insurance, said in an email to RATESDOTCA.

While only 46% of all trip planners are considering travel insurance, the intent to purchase insurance is significantly higher among those who have postponed or redirected their trips to account for the likelihood of delays and cancellations. In fact, 24% of those whose travel plans were interrupted by these delays say that while they don’t usually buy travel insurance, recent airport issues have caused them to reconsider.

78% of those who changed travel plans due to delays intend on purchasing travel insurance this year

The vast majority of travellers who have had to make adjustments to their travel plans say they are opting for travel insurance for their next trip (78%). Yet, the percentage of those who plan to purchase it doesn’t depend on income level. This could be because travel insurance is a relatively affordable product for those who can afford a vacation.

According to the RATESDOTCA travel insurance quoter, the lowest travel insurance premium for a 30-year-old single female in Ontario with no pre-existing health conditions is just $16.32 for a week-long trip to the United States. Compared to the costs incurred from an unexpected medical emergency abroad, travel insurance can be a minor expense, depending on the non-refundable expenses paid prior to your departure, your health, and other factors.

“It’s important to know not all plans provide the same coverage, so you may want to look for travel insurance that specifically meets your needs,” says Landry. “Some additional plans include coverage for unstable pre-existing medical conditions or trip cancellations and interruptions.”

However, the extent of coverage you opt for will be reflected in your premium. “Emergency medical insurance premiums vary based on the traveller’s age and trip length,” says Landry, “while trip cancellation and interruption vary based on trip cost.”

Majority of those planning to travel by plane say they’ll purchase extra travel insurance coverage

While 50% of Canadians plan to purchase additional travel insurance, the percentage is higher among those planning to fly versus drive (57% versus 34%).

However, unlike the difference we saw in basic travel insurance intent between those who changed their travel plans and all trip planners (78% versus 46%), purchase intent for additional coverage is relatively similar for those who have changed their plans and those who have not (59% versus 54%).

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Additional travel insurance can offer perks that a basic policy might not. Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, for example, cover the full cost of your trip if it’s cancelled, delayed, or interrupted for reasons out of your control.

While trip cancellation insurance is valuable before your departure date, trip interruption coverage protects you during your travels. This additional coverage is great for those who already have medical coverage in place but are looking for more peace of mind. And if you’re looking for a bundled policy that covers any travel scenario, including loss or delay of luggage, an all-inclusive policy is the best way to go.

Despite the selection of travel insurance add-ons available, 38% of travellers don’t plan on purchasing additional coverage this year. For the 32% of that cohort who plan to travel by plane and skip out on travel insurance altogether, the risk of having to bear the cost of flight cancellations, cancelled accommodations, and lost luggage is greater.

Weighing the cost of travel insurance and the total cost of a vacation or medical emergency is an important part of trip preparation, particularly for those who are flying internationally. Factoring the cost of insurance into your budget before planning a departure is a good way to guarantee a safe and relaxing trip.

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Michelle Bates

Michelle Bates is an editor and writer at RATESDOTCA. She has just over four years of content writing experience and got her start writing for small GTA businesses in 2017. A few years later, she began freelance writing, fact-checking, and interviewing sources for Cottage Life magazine and CottageLife.com.

She has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree from Queen's University in English Literature and Sociology along with a Publishing - Book, Magazine and Electronic graduate certificate from Centennial College. Michelle is now a financial writer and specializes in personal finance content, including mortgages, home, auto, and travel insurance, and credit cards. Her work has been covered by notable Canadian news sources like Daily Hive, Toronto Sun, CTV News, and Narcity.

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