Over Seven Million Brits Have Suffered Travel Disruption In The Last 18 Months

26 July 2011

Over seven million Britons (15% of adults) have had a holiday disrupted by problems including ash clouds, industrial action and political unrest overseas in the past 18 months, according to new research(1) from Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance. The findings reveal that these people have collectively suffered over 18 million disrupted days of holiday, costing holidaymakers £2.1 billion.

The past 18 months has seen a wide range of travel disruption, caused by issues including airspace closures due to volcanic eruptions, airline staff strikes in the UK and other European countries and flights cancelled to countries such as Egypt and Tunisia due to political unrest.

Scott Gorman, Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance Manager, commented: “Despite the scale of disruption faced by UK travellers, many still don’t appreciate how to deal with the issue when it arises. We are urging holidaymakers to ensure they know how to protect themselves from financial loss and what they should do if they suffer such a disruption.”

The supermarket bank’s research reveals that around 1.9 million adults (4%) have had a flight delayed or cancelled as a result of ash cloud issues since the start of 2010, and over 800,000 (2%) have suffered as a result of industrial action. Almost half a million people (451,000 or 1% of adults) had their holiday delayed, cancelled, or cut short as a result of political unrest in the country where they were on holiday or intending to go on holiday.

Some 2.3 million people (5%) have had a flight delayed or cancelled as a result of bad weather in the past 18 months and around 3.6 million (8%) have had a flight delayed or cancelled as a result of a technical or mechanical failure on their plane, train, coach or car.

Victims suffered an average of two and half days of disruption to their holidays, costing on average £293 each. However, almost one in ten of those whose holiday was disrupted (798,000 or 11% of adults) was affected for a week or more and some have incurred costs of over £5,000 due to the disruption.

Worryingly, nearly one in three of those who suffered a travel disruption, nearly 2.3 million people (31%), say they didn’t have travel insurance for their holiday.

Scott Gorman continues: “Travellers have had a tough time over the past year and a half with travel delays and cancellations and many victims have found it difficult to get reimbursement for their costs and are confused about who they should approach if they do suffer from travel disruption.

“If a flight is delayed or cancelled your airline should always be your first port of call to arrange an alternative or a refund, followed by your tour operator if you have one. However, travel insurance can offer another useful source of reimbursement for costs incurred if you shop around for policies that offer a good level of cover.”

Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance has produced a helpful guide to assist those who are worried about suffering from travel disruptions:

Before you go  If you are affected
Travel insurance policies are designed to provide cover over and above that which is offered by airlines and tour operators so shop around for a policy that offers a good level of cover on delays and cancellations as well as essentials such as medical costs and lost baggage If you suffer a flight delay or cancellation, airlines and tour operators are obliged to provide alternative arrangements (including food and accommodation if required) and refunds for travel under EU Regulations so approach them in the first instance
It’s a good idea to find a travel insurance policy that provides scheduled airline failure cover as standard as this offers protection should your operator go out of business. Purchasing independent traveller cover is also a must if you’ve booked individual elements of your trip yourself and not as part of a package holiday Once you have spoken to your airline or tour operator, seek advice from your travel insurer or consult your policy wording – you may need to go to the airport in order to claim for any delays
Paying for a holiday by credit card can offer extra protection to consumers if the airline is in breach of contract If you are delayed make sure you keep any receipts for expenses incurred


The research reveals that those in London have been the worst affected, with one in five Londoners (21%) having suffered a travel disruption since the start of 2010. Scottish holidaymakers were next worst affected, with 20 per cent of them having suffered a travel disruption. The survey found that holidaymakers from Scotland were by far the most likely to have been affected by the ash clouds – 8 per cent of those surveyed in Scotland reported disruptions caused by ash clouds, double the figure for the UK as a whole.

People suffering holiday disruptions by location(1)


Location Percentage of adults who have had a holiday disrupted since the start of 2010 Number of adults who have had a holiday disrupted since the start of 2010
London  21% 1,280,000
Scotland 20% 840,000
North West 16% 870,000
Yorks & Humber 16% 658,000
West Midlands 15% 662,000
South West  15% 641,000
South East 14% 850,000
Eastern 13% 589,000
Wales  11% 264,000
East Midlands 11% 401,000
North East 10% 213,000


Sainsbury’s multi-trip travel insurance offers:

To obtain a Sainsbury’s Travel Insurance quote you can log or call 0800 316 1452.  Lines are open 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, 8am – 7pm Saturday, and 9am – 5pm on Sunday.

– Ends –

For further information, please contact:

Ian Morris / Tom Wilson
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
020 7282 1037 / 2842

Notes to editors:

(1) ICM interviewed a random sample of 2,005 adults aged 18+. The interviews were conducted via an online omnibus survey between 10th – 12th June 2011. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information available

18 million days of holiday lost calculated by multiplying the average number of days of disruption suffered (2.5) by the number of people who have suffered disruption (7,267,000)
£2.1 bn lost calculated by multiplying the average cost of disruption suffered (£293.33) by the number of people who have suffered disruption (7,267,000)
(2) To receive your1/3 offonline discount go to and remember to have your Nectar card numberready. Offer ends 1st August 2011, see for full terms and conditions.

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Sainsbury’s was the first major British supermarket to open a bank, commencing trading in February 1997. Benefiting from a fantastic, trusted brand that enables us to combine the shopping experience with personal finance, Sainsbury’s Finance provides a range of quality products including insurances, credit cards, savings and loans. Our proposition is to make shopping more rewarding by offering customers great products at fair prices, while consistently rewarding shoppers for their loyalty and being easy to do business with at all times.  Our products consistently top Best Buy tables and regularly win awards for quality, price and service.

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Sainsburys Finance Travel Insurance is arranged and administered by FirstAssist Insurance Services Limited on behalf of the insurer, Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC.

FirstAssist Insurance Services Limited (FISL) is one of the UK’s leading providers of tailored, flexible white-label specialist insurance solutions. FISL has five key areas of insurance expertise: travel, protection, budget health, legal protection and small business, covering nearly three million people in the UK.

Driven as a specialist business by an entrepreneurial, commercial management team, FISL provides a unique range of products and marketing solutions for: Banks, Insurers, Affinity Organisations, Corporates, Intermediaries and SMEs.

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