Flight cancellation due to weather conditions: Your rights

There are times when planes just can't take off.

These are the times when it's considered not safe to fly, and bad weather is one of the main reasons why it happens. Because extreme weather events can pose a serious threat to passengers, the crew and the plane itself. What does it mean for you? What if you have experienced a flight cancellation due to weather? What if your plans have been ruined because of a single flight? A flight cancelled due to weather conditions.

What if because of that you miss another flight or flights?

Could you be entitled to flight cancellation compensation?

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Dark clouds over the sea

What are adverse weather conditions?

Adverse weather conditions include unexpected, severe or unseasonal weather.

Such conditions include everything from snowstorm to tropical cyclones. When it comes to commercial air travel it means all weather conditions when it's considered not safe to fly.

Here are a few examples:

  • Thick fog,
  • Heavy rain showers,
  • Thunderstorms,
  • Storms,
  • Strong crosswinds
  • Sandstorms
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Your flight is cancelled due to bad weather. What are your rights?

What happens if your flight is cancelled due to weather conditions?

What should you do when you learn of the cancellation?

It depends on where you are and what airline are you flying with.

Why it matters?

Because in many situations you are protected by the EU:

  • if it's a European airline, it applies to flights to and from Europe,
  • If it's a non-EU airline, it applies only to flights from Europe.

Continue reading to learn more about what does it mean for you.

Entering a hotel room

If you are still at home or hotel

You may have received an e-mail from your airline.

If you have, read that e-mail carefully because this is where you will find answer to the question, what should you do next. If you haven’t received anything, contact your airline first.

According to the EU law, the airline has to provide you with a new ticket or give you a full refund, even if the flight is cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances. In any case you have the right to be taken to your destination or given a full refund. Even if the reason for the delay / cancellation is outside of the airline's control (in this case — inclement weather).

If your schedule is really tight, you may want to try another mode of transportation. Opt for a refund and look at the options you have.

Young woman waiting for a flight at the airport

If you are already at the airport

First of all, do not proceed through airport security.

If a flight is cancelled, that’s it. Even if there will be a new flight you will still need to check in for that flight, so definitely do not proceed through security. Wait for more information!

Inclement weather conditions are considered as an “extraordinary circumstance”.

It's something out of the airline’s responsibility.

Despite that, in the EU you are protected against these situations.

First of all, your airline has to provide you with a new ticket for a new flight. The airline has to take you to your final destination, no matter what. In case of bad weather, you may have to wait once the weather clears up and it's safe to fly again. A full refund may also be offered.

If you will have to wait, you have the right to care.

According to the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, Article 9, all passengers have the right to care. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t airlines fault. If your flight is delayed and you have to wait, the airline should provide meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time. It shall be offered free of charge.

Mostly it means that:

  • if you have to wait 3 or more hours, you get a free meal and drink,
  • if you have to wait overnight — free hotel accommodation.

In addition, two free calls, faxes or e-mails shall be offered.

How to get that free meal? Mostly it’s gonna be in form of coupons that you can exchange at the airport cafes, shops or restaurants. Contact your airline and ask for a food and drinks voucher. Ask for accommodation if you will need to spend the night at the airport.

You can also buy a meal yourself. Save receipts and request a refund later.

All passengers have the right to care.

That applies both to Europeans and tourists from overseas.

Turkish Airlines airplane at the airport

What if you miss a connecting flight?

There are only a few most likely scenarios.

In some situations you will have to do nothing. Your airline will take care of everything, in other — you will have to look for a new flight yourself. In some situations you will get compensation, in others you will not. It all depends on the type of your connecting flight and some other factors.

If it's an airline protected connecting flight, you are protected.

If it's a self transfer flight, you will have to find a new flight yourself.

Read more: Missed connecting flight due to delay: What's next?

Cash on the table

Flight cancellation due to weather: Compensation

Can you also get EU flight cancellation compensation?

Since it isn’t the airline's fault, in most situations you can’t.

However, “most” don’t mean “all” situations, and sometimes it's worth double-checking the case. Because your airline might not be telling the truth. Reference to severe weather conditions is one of the ways airlines try to avoid paying EU flight compensation. There aren’t that many flight cancellations due to weather conditions as some airlines claim.

What if the weather isn't that bad as the airline is saying?

For example, sub-zero temperatures in Europe during the winter isn’t something extraordinary. If your flight is delayed due to sub-zero temperatures, you may get compensation. It's winter, and the cold temperatures are not a surprise, in fact they are expected. And is the airline’s responsibility to prepare de-icing fluid for their aircrafts.

It's also worth checking the situation at the airport.

Is your flight the only one cancelled?

If there are tens of flights cancelled due to weather today, mostly that will mean that the situation is serious, and you most likely will not get flight compensation. At the same time, if your flight is the only one cancelled, it's worth filing compensation claim.

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If you are still unsure whether you are eligible for compensation or not, fill in our claim form, upload your boarding pass, and we will take it from there.

By Europe and EU we mean all EU Member States, the United Kingdom (UK), Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, Saint Martin, the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.