Volcanic ash affects UK flightsWhich? explains your travel rights

24 May 2011

Volcanic ash cloud

The ash cloud from Grimsvotn volcano has caused flight delays and cancellations in the north. 

As volcanic ash starts affecting flights from Scotland and the north, consumers are asking: how can we protect ourselves against cancelled flights?

The news that some flights from UK airports have been cancelled has left many consumers worried that they could face .

The Grimsvotn volcano began erupting on 21 May, and since then a wide area of airspace around the volcano has been closed off. As the ash drifts, it was announced this morning that some flights out of Glasgow airport would be cancelled.

Different type of ash

Scientists and airline representatives have assured passengers that the current eruption produces a different type of ash, which should not have the devastating disruption to airports that the Eyjafjallajokull eruption had in 2010.

However, it could still result in or while airlines decide whether it is safe to fly. Airports likely to be affected today include Londonderry, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Prestwick, Durham Tees Valley, Newcastle and Carlisle.

What will happen to my flight?

You could still be scheduled to fly, depending on which airport you are flying out of. Be sure to check your airport and airline's website before setting off.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled you do have some protection under the Denied Boarding Regulations.

If your flight was delayed the airline should provide you with:

  • two free phone calls, faxes or emails
  • free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay
  • free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if you need to stay overnight
  • a refund on your ticket (if the delay if 5 hours or more and you choose not to fly).

If your flight was cancelled you are also entitled to one of the following:

  • a refund of the full cost of the flight within 7 days
  • re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity
  • re-routing to your final destination at a later date convenient to you.

If your flight is not direct and was cancelled part-way through, you are entitled to a flight back to your point of departure and then a refund or re-routing at a convenient time.

Travel insurance

It is never too late to buy travel insurance. Having appropriate insurance is the best way to ensure that you are covered if your flight is delayed or cancelled. Good policies should cover you in the event of adverse weather conditions, such as volcanic ash. 

Travel tips

1. Download our free iPhone Consumer Rights app so you've travel rights information at your fingertips.

2. Take a photograph of the departure board detailing your delay or cancellation. It might prove helpful when complaining to an airline or making an insurance claim.

3. If your airline's website confirms they're not flying, take a screen shot or print out so you've a record of this.

Join the debate

Rochelle Turner reflects on last year's ash crisis and warns airlines to get it right this time round. Do you think we've learnt our lesson? Join the ash cloud debate on Which? Conversation.