Hundreds of flights cancelled as snow hits airportsWhat to do if your flight is cancelled

06 February 2012

Heathrow airport snow

Hundreds of flights were cancelled across the country following a weekend of snow and icy weather conditions.

More than 500 on Sunday. Heathrow operated 753 flights - about 58% of the 1,300 that were scheduled. A normal service has resumed today but the airport is working to clear the backlog.

Heathrow has defended its decision to announce that it was cancelling flights before snow had started to fall. It argued that acting quickly meant customers did not travel to the airport only to find their flight was not operating.

Cancellation rights 

If your flight is cancelled, your airline is obliged to offer assistance, providing you have a confirmed booking, under the Denied Boarding Regulations.

The regulations give you an entitlement to a replacement flight at no extra cost on the next available flight, or a refund within seven days of the full cost off the flight. 

You are also entitled to free meals and refreshments and free hotel accommodation if you are forced to wait overnight for your flight, and to two free phone calls or emails.

Compensation for cancellations

If your flight has been cancelled, airlines are not obliged to offer you compensation if they show the cancellation was caused by 'extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures have been taken'. This does not affect your other rights to a refund and assistance. 

You should be paid your refunds within seven days by cash, electronic bank transfers, bank orders or bank cheques. Airlines may offer to pay you in vouchers. You do not have to accept and they need to have your signed agreement before they can give you vouchers.

Use our letter template to claim compensation if your flight has been cancelled

Package holidays

If you booked a package holiday and your flight was cancelled, you can either cancel your holiday and get a full refund, or re-book for another departure.

You should not incur administration charges for re-booking your holiday. If you are re-booked to a cheaper holiday you are entitled to a refund for the price difference. However, if the new holiday would have cost more money than the original, you may incur some additional costs.

Insurance for weather cancellations

Check your travel insurance documentation to see whether you are covered for extraordinary circumstances such as severe weather.

Some insurance policies may not cover you if you turn up when advised not to.

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