At What Point Do Flights Get Cancelled Due to Weather?

Air travel is heavily regulated and while it’s true that airlines can often be their own worst enemy and create issues, extreme weather is the most frequent culprit.

Flight cancellations happen. It’s part of the game. The purpose of this post is to explain what has to happen to push airlines to cancel, and why these decisions are made. Then, we want to dive into what comes next for you once the flight is cancelled, and how to defend your rights as a passenger

4 Common Culprits of Flight Cancellations

Oftentimes, unless the airline is truly at fault, extreme and inclement weather is to blame for delayed flights that become cancellations. Here are 4 of the most common weather events that will ground your flight for the foreseeable future.

Heavy Rain

Heavy rain brings with it a whole slew of problems for pilots, airlines, and even passengers because of the potential danger. One thing to consider is that heavy rain never rolls through alone. Most of the time it comes along with a forecast of high winds, lightning and more.

When heavy rain rolls through, visibility is limited, high turbulence is expected, and airlines need to consider the safety of all involved before moving forward with a flight. In the rare occasion that heavy rain isn’t associated with any other inclement events, flights won’t be hampered by it. For example, a quick burst of heavy rain will only be a minor inconvenience, as airlines use advanced weather forecasting to keep track of nearby storm systems.

High Winds

When there is wind whipping around at ground level airplanes will struggle on the runway. This alone is a reason not to risk flying and, instead, cancelling flights, but it’s fair to assess how the situation is when you approach the airport and imagine that up in the sky it’s likely much worse.

In no way do we want you to worry about the safety of air travel. It’s plenty safe, however, the airlines have to consider the worst-case scenario when making decisions on flights. Each flight carries a financial risk for flights and keeping them on time is in the airline’s best interest. When winds are strong enough to induce turbulence, wind shear, and closed runways, delays are inevitable. Sometimes they become cancellations.

Ice Pile-Up

When the temperature drops low enough ice becomes a real issue for planes, mostly because it can appear anywhere there is moisture. Some situations will lead to the plane itself freezing over, disrupting the normal machinations of the airplane with just a quarter-inch-thick layer of ice.

Ice can even build up in the engine to create further problems, such as engine flameouts. And remember, that’s just how ice can impact the actual plane. We didn’t even get to how runways can freeze over and moist, freezing cold weather often means a larger weather event is at hand. Blizzards are a whole new beast for airlines to deal with as they manage to incorporate all of the points we are touching on in this post.


The issues that fog introduce to airlines, pilots and passengers is where it forms and how it is literally a ground-level problem. Both taking off and landing is nearly impossible, as fog tends to form at a height lower than 200 feet, blanking the runway, and making visibility slim-to-none.

Regulations come into play here, as it’s less of a judgment call. Taking off and landing requires a certain distance of visibility, and if the plane can’t be cleared for takeoff as other planes are being forced to wait for clearance, things slow down and delays become cancellations before you know it.

Fighting for Compensation in the Event of a Flight Cancellation

In the situations outlined above, it’s likely that you won’t be entitled to any compensation for your canceled flight. However, you can still do your due diligence to learn more about your rights as a passenger and the process to file a claim. Let’s dive into your rights.

There was a time when airline passengers were accustomed to coming up empty-handed in this situation. Thanks to the passing of Regulation EU 261/2004, those days are a thing of the past. You have rights to compensation as a passenger, but that relies on the reason for your cancellation.

If the airline provides an advanced warning about delays or cancellations, then your claim is negligible, but when we are talking about bad weather it’s unlikely that the decision wasn’t made close to, or after, your scheduled departure time.

Compensation claims are built on a structure that weighs the distance of your journey and how long the delay goes on for. If your claim is successful, €250 will be paid out for short distance delays (anything below 1500km of travel). Medium distance delays (between 1500km and 3500km) can lead to €400 in compensation for EU flight delays . Long-distance flight delays (anything over 3500km) can result in compensation of €600 per passenger.

Depending on the circumstances of your delay or cancellation compensation might be due. However, the topic of weather is tricky as it often falls under the “extraordinary circumstances” umbrella. Regardless, it’s important to be aware of your rights so that you can take the appropriate next steps and hold them up.

Fighting For Your Flight Cancellation Compensation Claim

Airline travel can be a hassle. In the past, we have shared airport travel tips but nothing can hold down an on-time flight quite like extreme weather events. Whatever the reason for your cancellation is, it’s important to get your facts in order for a potential compensation claim. After all, we don’t blame you for looking into your rights to compensation. In fact, we are here to help because we don’t expect you to go through the process without a professional by your side.

TravelRefund Will Protect Your Rights

TravelRefund is ready to fight for the flight delay compensation that passengers like you are rightfully owed. We operate on a no cure, no pay basis too, meaning you won’t get charged if our case isn’t victorious It’s true!

If you are interested in learning about your options and are thinking about filing a compensation claim for your flight delay, fill out our online form and we will reach out to you!

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