The beginning of the holiday travel season has not gone well for Air Canada and its passengers. In mid-November, reports of a computer glitch causing communication havoc between the check-in and reservation systems, hindered the issuing of boarding passes and also affected baggage check-in.

Travellers were urged to call ahead to check the status of their flight. Unfortunately, this didn't help some travellers who followed these instructions but had their flights cancelled upon showing up at their newly scheduled check-in time.

In total, 16 flights were cancelled and for those that did take off, the average delay time per flight (and there were more than 600 flights affected at Pearson Airport alone) was 40 minutes.

So what happens to the travellers whose flights were cancelled?

To date, the only reported compensation that has been offered was complimentary bottles of water handed out at Pearson during the delays. Air Canada has said they have no immediate plans to compensate travellers who had to re-book flights due to the delays and cancellations.

Travel insurance could have helped

To any Air Canada passenger travelling that fateful day, trip cancellation travel insurance could have provided peace of mind in such a stressful situation. How you ask? The events of the day were obviously unfortunate. However, if you knew you'd be fairly quickly compensated the price of your flight even though your flight was cancelled or you missed your connecting flight, then you would likely have enjoyed that complimentary bottled water a bit more.

Computer glitches are uncommon, snowstorms are not.
Sure, airlines have the occasional non-weather related setback from time to time that you can't plan on, but when it comes to Canadian winters, you know a snowstorm might ground you. It's already happened-again at Pearson International in Toronto, on November 22nd during the first winter storm of the season in Southern Ontario. Flights were delayed and there were even cancellations when freezing rain and snow on the runways made takeoff risky.

That's what makes trip cancellation travel insurance your best buy for the holiday travel season.

How to shop for travel insurance

It's likely the easiest shopping you'll do this holiday season.

Everyone is different and every trip is different so you should look around for options that fit your needs instead of taking what's suggested with your flight right away. Not only will you get a better price on coverage (for emergency medical for up to 6 days you could be covered for as low as $12), you'll also discover what you're actually covered for in case anything were to happen, and you needed to make a claim.

So when you're shopping for travel insurance compare:

  • The types of policies available to you. One size does not fit all. For example, you can get an all-inclusive package that typically includes protection for medical emergencies, trip cancellation that will cover the cost of your flight or trip package, and coverage for all your baggage in case of loss or damage. If that's more coverage than you need, then why not save money by only getting what you require like an emergency medical travel insurance policy or just trip cancellation coverage.

  • Single trip policies to multi-trip policies. If you travel more than 2 or 3 times each year, annual multi-trip policies could provide you with significant savings. Multiple-trip policies mean that for one annual rate, you will have emergency medical travel insurance coverage for every trip you take within the year after the policy is issued. Quotes for a variety of trip lengths are available too.

  • Prices from competing companies. Make sure you're comparing apples-to-apples because the range in rates available for what seems like the same coverage will surprise you. How much emergency medical coverage are you actually getting, $1 million, $2 million or something else altogether? Is there a deductible?

Whether it's an emergency medical policy, trip cancellation coverage, or if you're in need of an all-inclusive package, compare travel insurance quotes before you start your holiday travelling season.

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