When the weather strikes, there is little for you to do but stay inside and wait it out.
It is for this reason that flight delays or cancellations due to bad weather typically fall under the umbrella of Extraordinary Circumstance under EU Law, meaning that in most cases flights grounded due to weather are not required to pay compensation to passengers. That being said, not every situation will fall under Extraordinary Circumstances, meaning you could be owed compensation and not even realise it.
Weather’s Role in Extraordinary Circumstance
Compensation claims are mandated by the EU Regulation 261 titled “The Denied Boarding Regulation,” otherwise known as EC261/2004, which exists to protect passengers and ensure fair compensation for denied or delayed boarding.
The amount of compensation you can receive is fixed by EU law, and, to help protect the airlines in question, compensation cannot be claimed if the delay or cancellation was due to “Extraordinary Circumstances.”
The exact definition of what pertains extraordinary circumstances isn’t well defined. Typically, extraordinary circumstances refer to when flight delays are due to:
The reason severe weather conditions are included in extraordinary circumstances is due to the fact that mankind cannot control the weather, nor can they foresee weather predictions far into the future. Therefore, if flights were delayed or cancelled due to freak weather conditions, like a storm, or air traffic control have made the executive decision to ground planes, there is little you can do. If your situation falls outside of these situations, however, you can likely still make a successful claim for compensation.
Weather Delay Exemptions
You can still claim compensation when your flight has been delayed or cancelled due to bad weather, but only in certain circumstances. Examples of these exemption scenarios include:
When your flight has been delayed due to one of these situations, you have basis to claim compensation. They are not covered under extraordinary circumstance, and therefore you can claim compensation.
What Happens When Your Flight Has Been Delayed or Cancelled Due to Bad Weather?
Thankfully, compensation is not the only right you are owed when your flight is delayed or cancelled. Airlines must provide “care and assistance” when delays become significant enough. For short haul flights, this delay must exceed two hours, whereas long-haul flights must be delayed by over three hours for you to be eligible.
Care and assistance is offered typically in the form of:
If your flight has been delayed overnight, you are entitled to:
In most cases, these benefits will be arranged for you. For food and drink, you will often be given vouchers you can trade in at any establishment in the airport, whereas the airline will book hotel accommodation on your behalf. In the cases where the airline cannot immediately accommodate all passengers, either due to being short staffed or due to extreme disruption, don’t worry. You have the right to organise care and assistance for yourself.
It is important to note that alcohol and luxury purchases are not included, and that you should be reasonable with your purchases. Keep all receipts, so that you can then claim for the refund on these items from your airline later.
It is important to note that you can still claim compensation through EC261/2004 if you accept these care and assistance benefits. These benefits are to help you feel more comfortable during significant delays.
Re-Routing Options and Claiming Compensation
What many airlines will attempt to do when you are experiencing a delay is try to re-route you. Being re-routed does not mean that you cannot claim compensation, just that the compensation is reduced. The reduction in question is half of what the regular compensation rate is for your flight duration, and this depends on the arrival time of your new flight. Typically, you will be eligible for reduced compensation if your flight lands:
How Much Compensation Can You Receive?
Compensation is given to any passenger who is travelling from:
You are not eligible for compensation under EC261/2004 if you:
If you are eligible to claim for compensation through EU regulation, the amount you can claim will depend on the duration of your flight and the amount of time your flight has been delayed. This grace period of allotted time will also apply to care and assistance benefits, meaning you will not be able to obtain food and drink vouchers until after the allotted period of time has passed.
Passengers must wait for three hours before compensation can be claimed on:
Passengers must wait for four hours before compensation can be claimed on:
How Much Compensation Can You Claim?
Once your flight has been delayed for more than three or four hours, depending on your flight length, you can claim compensation. Compensation is not eligible for those who have already claimed it through a different scheme, and similarly will be halved if passengers are re-routed within a certain period of time. These rates are fixed, meaning the compensation is the same regardless of the price of your ticket.
Travellers on short (less than 1500km) to medium-haul (1500km to 3500km) flights can receive:
Travellers on long-haul flights (over 3500km) can receive:
It should be noted that prices are fixed in Euros, so that exact amount in Pound Sterling (GBP) will vary based on currency fluctuations.
Who Can Claim for This Compensation?
Compensation can be claimed at any point within six years after the delay occurs. This means that even if you or a loved one has experienced a delay in the past, you can still claim compensation through EU law. For citizens of the UK, however, it is advised that you claim what you are owed before the Brexit finalisations in March 2019, as different regulations may be in place by then.
Compensation can be claimed for any passenger, including babies. In April 2017 a judge ruled that babies deserve flight compensation along with their parents, despite not needing a flight ticket or seat themselves. This landmark ruling is estimated to be worth £10 million a year for passengers, making a worthwhile endeavour if you have been inconvenienced.
Compensation can be claimed by any passenger over the age of 18. Guardians can claim on behalf of passengers who were of minority age. If this compensation is not claimed, then the passenger who was underage during the incident has six years after their 18th birthday to file this claim.
To make the claim easier, it is wise to file your claim through a recognised agency to make the process go smoothly.
What to Do If Your Flight Was a Part of a Packaged Deal
A lot of holidays are part of packaged deals. This helps vacationers like yourself save money on big holidays, however, they can be time sensitive. Therefore, this is why when your flight has been delayed or cancelled due to bad weather, your first move should be to contact the tour operator or travel company so that they can work out alternative flights or even issue you a refund for your trip.
Rescheduling Your Own Flight
Weather is very unpredictable, and as such buying another ticket in preparation that your flight will be cancelled due to a storm is a very risky move. If the planes are cleared to fly on your original flight date, then you will have to cover the costs for both tickets, rather than just the one. Unless you have a flexible ticket or refundable ticket, it is best to try to fly out on your original flight date. If there are delays, you will be taken care of, your flight will be re-routed, or you will be refunded. Then, on top of that, you will be able to claim compensation.
Travel Insurance Tips
When your flight has been delayed or cancelled due to bad weather, chances are other aspects of your vacation have been as well. In order to be covered for the unforeseeable events, however, you have to have booked your insurance before news of, for instance, a hurricane made headlines.
Buying your travel insurance shortly after or along with your tickets can help you claim the extra compensation you need. This will help you cover the cost of lost accommodation or even lost property or medical expenses if the weather in question affected you before your journey.
Claiming Compensation After Brexit
The rules for claiming compensation through EU law after Brexit officially occurs in March 2019 have yet to be ratified. Until this exit date, however, the UK must adhere to all EU laws and regulations, meaning that until that exit date you can still claim compensation as usual. This means that if you have any claims you want to make from the past six years, it is wise to file them now to ensure you get the compensation you are owed.
Hiring Specialists to Help You Claim Your Compensation
In order to claim compensation when airlines quote weather as the extraordinary circumstance under which they could not fly, you will need to prove that they did so unnecessarily. This typically means proving that other flights at the same time or to the same destination did take off as per schedule. That being said, obtaining this evidence and claiming compensation can be a long process, which is why we here at FairPlane have done our best to make the compensation process as easily as possible. All you need is:
Once we have that, we will start to work on your behalf to ensure you get the compensation you are owed, and, through our No Win No Fee program, you won’t have to pay a penny unless we win you your compensation.