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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   3 min read

With wintery weather plaguing the UK this week, there’s bound to be hundreds of flights grounded and many cancelled until further notice. Edinburgh and Glasgow airports have been closed and Heathrow is dealing with more delays than they’d like. What do you do when your flight has been cancelled due to bad weather?

It’s just about the worst feeling ever when you’re standing at the airport and you look up at the board to see which gate you need to be heading to. Wait, does it say, “cancelled” beside it? “No,” you think, “it’s not possible.” But it is. It happens to everyone sooner or later, especially at this time of year when winter is just getting started.

Cancelled flights

Did you know that if your flight is cancelled within seven days of departure, you are technically entitled to a full refund? This refund is payable within seven days of the original departing date and applied to any part of the ticket that has not been used (in cases of connecting flights). If you agree to be re-routed by your airline then you’re also entitled to be reimbursed the cost of the transfer if it doesn’t take you to your original destination. Keep all your receipts to state your claim afterwards.

Cancelled connecting flights

The Air Transport User’s Council gives pretty sound advice on this topic. They outline that if a connecting flight has been cancelled and you as a passenger have already made part of your journey but do not wish to continue with it, then airlines must reimburse you the total price of the ticket and a free flight back to your point of departure. This includes parts of the journey not made.

Hotel Accommodations

Unfortunately many hotels still charge for rooms if not cancelled within 24-48 hours. This means that a lot of travellers held back due to cancelled flights can consider that hotel’s night stay a write-off. Airlines are not required to reimburse passengers on any other component of their trips or holidays, including pre-booked hotel stays and rental car contracts.

If you need a last minute hotel, search quickly on to see what’s available near your airport. We search in real-time so you’ll know whether there’s vacancy or not and at what price!

Package Holidays

If you have bought a package holiday from a travel agent that is protected by ATOL, then the booking agent is responsible for rebooking an alternative holiday should your flight be cancelled. If you are stranded abroad, it’s also the agent’s responsibility to find you another way home and organize hotel accommodations if need be.

Compensation / Incurred costs

If cancellations are due to rotten weather and storms that are out of the airline’s control then they are not entitled to dish out compensation. Flight cancellations happen every winter, they come with the season. Passengers risk the chance of cancellations when they book so it’s best to always be prepared and have some sort of back-up plan.

As for compensation for incurred costs due to a cancelled flight, this is where the lines are quite blurred. It all depends on the length of the delay and the length of the original flight. Passengers in some cases may be provided with food and drink vouchers to be used at airport restaurants, two free phone calls (presumably home and to your hotel to cancel that reservation), access to email and fax services and sometimes even an overnight stay at a nearby hotel.

Have you ever had a flight cancelled by a snow storm? What kind of reimbursement did you get and how did your airline deal with the situation? Read our previous article about passenger’s rights

Img: anirudh koul / flickr cc

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