Weather-related delays are one of the most significant factors behind cancellations and delays for airlines. But when can the airlines use this as a sufficient justification?
If your flight has been canceled or delayed due to bad weather, read more about your rights in this article. You may be entitled to up to 600 Euro in flight compensation.
Weather conditions are one of the most frequent causes of delays and cancellations. But weather alone should not lead to major delays. If your flight is canceled due to extreme weather conditions, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, fog or floods, certain policies and rules apply to accommodate you as a traveler.
The first thing you need to know is that you will not receive any kind of compensation, as these weather conditions are considered an extraordinary circumstance.
An extraordinary circumstance simply means that the delay or cancellation in question was beyond the airline’s control. The airline was simply unable to anticipate or prepare for the situation. When such a weather situation occurs, there are usually hundreds of flights affected, so you are not alone.
Read more about extraordinary circumstances in this article.
Unnecessary delay or cancellation?
No airline wants delays or cancellations – it costs them deeply, hence they will always do everything they can to avoid it or minimize the effects of it.
However, there are examples of unnecessary delays and cancellations, among other things where the airline cancels in order to be able to use its flights on other routes. If so the airline cannot use “weather” as the reason for the cancellation or delay, but instead they should announce “lack of flights” as the reason.
In this case, you are entitled to compensation, assuming that you have been delayed for more than 3 hours.
The airline must document the delay or cancellation
If there is a small amount of fog or for that matter a thunderstorm it should not delay your flight. Aircraft are designed to navigate through fog and withstand lightning. Airplanes are actually regularly struck by lightning.
Hence, it will be a poor apology on the part of the airline.
Consequently, be aware that the airline must document that the cancellation or delay is due to unusual weather conditions. You may be entitled to compensation of up to 600 Euro for flights delayed by more than 3 hours with a flight distance greater than 3500 km.
Services you are entitled to at the airport
Although no compensation is available in the event of extraordinary weather conditions, you do have the right to reasonable services, while you wait in the airport. This service includes food, drink, and possible accommodation at a hotel.
In order for the European Regulation to apply, the flight must have taken off from a European airport, or must have been operated by a European airline and landed in the European Union.
If you travel with an airline outside the borders of Europe, you may not be covered by EU regulation 261/2004. You are thereby responsible for the expenses that follow the delay. So, always remember to have travel insurance ready at hand.
However, the airlines are always responsible for getting you rebooked as soon as possible. Even if it’s another airline from another nearby airport that can get you home first. Therefore, ask the airline to document their attempt to get you another ticket with another airline.
Know your basic rights when your flight is delayed due to bad weather
In the event that your flight is delayed for more than 3 hours, there are a number of rights that you should be aware of.
- Flexible change of your ticket: The airline will generally allow you to rebook your flight within seven days of the originally scheduled date.
- Return of your ticket: The airline can refund your unused ticket against the purchase of another flight ticket to another destination.
- Change your ticket without fees: The airline may allow a one-time change without fees if you stay on the same itinerary.
- Refund or partial refund : If the weather is really bad and the flight schedules are a mess, the airline may offer to refund your unused ticket and sometimes even unused parts of your ticket if you have already started your journey.
Read also about the 3 most common reasons for flight delays.