61% of Summer Travelers Had Flight Delayed or Canceled, 83% Lost Money – Forbes Advisor


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This summer was poised to be a season of “revenge travel.” But spiking demand, understaffed airlines and severe storms flipped the script on many folks who were determined to travel like it was 2019.

A recent Forbes Advisor survey of 2,000 travelers revealed that 61% of respondents experienced flight delays or cancellations this summer. And 83% lost money as a result of travel issues, adding another painful layer to what many hoped would be a “normal” summer travel season.

Which of the following have you experienced while traveling this summer?

Flight Delays and Cancellations Carry a Hefty Cost for Travelers

Flight delays and cancellations may put a real damper on your vacation spirits, and they can also be a financial blow. Among travelers surveyed, 83% lost money due to travel problems.

Losses due to flight cancellations and delays often extend well beyond the airport, as travelers miss out on pre-paid hotel rooms, cruises and other activities. Airport parking, transportation and dog kenneling expenses also led to losses, according to survey respondents.

Just how much have travelers lost this summer thanks to airport mishaps?

More than half of respondents (59%) lost $500 or less, and others were less fortunate:

  • Nearly one in four travelers (24%) lost more than $500.
  • 14% reported losing more than $1,000.

Overall, summer travelers lost an average of $838—more than double the national average cost of a domestic flight, based on data from the United States Department of Transportation.

Travelers may be able to lessen the financial blow associated with delayed or canceled flights by purchasing travel insurance. The best travel insurance plans include travel delay insurance, which can reimburse the costs of pre-paid, non-refundable hotels, transportation and activities you miss out on if your flight plans go awry.

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How much money did you lose as a result of your flight delay or cancellation? (Include the cost of your plane ticket, cruise, airport parking, transportation, dog kenneling, unused hotel rooms and prepaid activities)

Related: 10 Worst U.S. Airports For Flight Cancellations And Delays This Week

Top Ways Flight Delays and Cancellations Cause Travel Chaos

Some travelers were lucky enough to escape airport chaos relatively unscathed, but others contended with everything from additional expenses to missed trips.

Here are the top summer travel problems according to our survey:

  • Nearly one in three travelers (31%) arrived at their hotel or resort later than planned and had to pay for a night they didn’t use.
  • More than one in four respondents (26%) had to pay out of pocket for transportation and hotel rooms while waiting for the next available flight.
  • 19% of travelers lost money on prepaid activities they missed due to delays or cancellations.
  • 17% missed milestone events, such as weddings, graduations and family reunions.
  • Another 17% of travelers had to cancel their travel plans entirely and lost money on airport parking, transportation, dog kenneling and/or unused hotel rooms.
  • 13% of travelers reported that flight cancellations and delays lead them to miss a cruise.

Flight Delays and Cancellations Left Travelers Stranded at the Airport for More Than 5 Hours on Average

If you’re planning to travel this year, you may want to grab a book or make sure your streaming apps are in working order. On average, flight delays and cancellations left travelers waiting an average of 5.2 hours for their travels to resume.

  • The majority of travelers surveyed (55%) were able to resume their trip in four hours or less, but others were less fortunate.
  • 43% of travelers were stranded for more than five hours, with 11% reporting they waited between seven and nine hours to resume their flights.
  • An unfortunate 15% had to set up camp for 10 hours or more.

When your original flight was delayed or canceled, how long did you have to wait at the airport for the next available flight?

Baggage Delays and Damaged Luggage Add to Frustrations

Lost luggage isn’t a new travel problem, but the number of bags lost or delayed has increased alongside recent delays, cancellations and staffing issues.

Nearly half of the travelers we surveyed (48%) said they had luggage lost or delayed this summer. Nearly a quarter (23%) were reunited with their luggage in as little as 24 hours, and 55% received it in three days or less.

A quick reunion wasn’t always the case. On average, travelers who experienced baggage delays were without their luggage for four days.

  • Nearly one in four travelers surveyed (24%) had to wait between four and six days to see their luggage again
  • An additional 22% of respondents waited a week or more to be reunited with their belongings.
  • An unfortunate 11% of respondents never received their luggage.

And even though most respondents said their luggage was in great condition when it was returned, 38% said it was slightly damaged. Six percent may be in the market for a new suitcase, as they said their luggage came back severely battered.

Lost luggage saddles travelers with unexpected costs

Lost luggage isn’t just an inconvenience. Travelers forced to deal with luggage delays, especially ones that span the better part of a week, often have to purchase necessities. That can add an unexpected upfront cost, even for those who purchased baggage insurance:

  • The majority of travelers (62%) were able to replace the contents of their bags for $300 or less.
  • About a quarter of those surveyed (27%) had to pay more than $400
  • 10% spent $1,000 or more.
  • Travelers who lost their luggage spent an average of $556 to replace their items.

How much did you pay out of pocket to replace the contents of your lost or delayed luggage?

More Than Half of Travelers Had to Take a Flight to Pick up Lost Luggage

What happened to travelers left longing for their luggage well after the baggage belt stopped?

Some of them (15%) were lucky enough to have their belongings delivered, while 13% had to drive back to the airport to pick up their bags.

Reuniting with luggage wasn’t as easy for 71% of respondents, many of whom had to take an unexpected expedition to reclaim their possessions:

  • For 17% of respondents, that meant driving to an airport in another city.
  • 21% of summer travelers said they had to take a short flight to pick up their luggage
  • 33% had to fly to a far-away airport to get their things.

Did you have to travel to pick up your luggage when it was delayed?

Canceled Flights, Delays and Lost Luggage Were Most Common While Traveling in the U.S.

Cancellation, delays and lost luggage were common experiences among the majority of travelers we surveyed. For our survey respondents, the brunt of the summer travel difficulties fell on those traveling domestically.

More than half of travelers (54%) experienced at least one of these airport inconveniences while traveling within the U.S. In addition:

  • 9% of summer travelers experienced these travel issues while flying to Mexico.
  • 7% on a trip to the United Kingdom.
  • 5% while heading to Canada.

Evidence of U.S. airline issues, specifically the monetary impact they have on travelers, have been in the spotlight in recent weeks, prompting the Department of Transportation (DOT) to take action.

On Aug. 3, 2022, Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, announced a DOT proposal that would crack down on how and when airlines must reimburse passengers who experience delays and cancellations on flights. The proposal is open for public comment for 90 days following its initial publication date.

Where were you traveling to when you experienced a flight delay, flight cancellation or lost your luggage?

Flight Delays and Cancellations Drive Travel Insurance Purchases

The pandemic may have fueled the summer of “revenge travel” but Covid-19 is no longer a leading concern among travelers who purchased travel insurance.

Some summer travelers (15%) cited concerns about flight cancellations and delays as one of the main reasons they purchased a travel insurance policy. The same amount (15%) report purchasing travel insurance for simple peace of mind amid summer travel chaos.

Only 10% purchased travel insurance this summer out of concern for a positive Covid-19 test, potentially signaling a shift as the U.S. and other countries move to loosen or remove travel restrictions.

If you bought travel insurance for your vacation, what was the main reason for purchasing it?

How Travel Insurance Protects Your Trip Investment

A comprehensive travel insurance plan combines a variety of coverage types that can protect you financially if your trip is delayed, interrupted or canceled. The best travel insurance plans will include these types of coverage.

  • Travel medical insurance. If you get injured or sick on your trip, travel medical insurance can help pay for medical costs like hospital bills, X-rays, lab work and medicine.
  • Trip cancellation insurance. If your trip is canceled due to a reason listed in your policy, trip cancellation insurance reimburses you 100% of the money you lose.
  • Trip delay insurance. If your trip is delayed due to a reason covered by your policy, trip delay insurance reimburses you for extra expenses such as a hotel room and restaurant meals.
  • Trip interruption insurance. If your trip is interrupted due to a problem covered by your policy, trip interruption insurance can pay for a last-minute flight home in an emergency and reimburse your pre-paid, non-refundable expenses that you lose.
  • Emergency medical evacuation insurance. If you become injured or ill and need to be transported to the nearest medical facility, emergency medical evacuation insurance can help cover the cost.
  • Baggage insurance. If your items are delayed, lost or stolen on your trip, baggage insurance covers luggage and personal possessions. Reimbursement will be for the depreciated value of your belongings.

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Methodology

This online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults who traveled on a plane since June 1, 2022, was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected Aug. 3-9, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has a corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For a complete survey methodology, including geographic and demographic sample sizes, contact .



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