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Thousands of flights to States cancelled

Storm fears shut airports on the east coast


As the east coast of America braces itself for its the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, many airlines, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Air France, cancel thousands of flights to the east coast.

Your travel rights

If your flight to the States is cancelled, your airline is obliged to offer assistance, providing you have a confirmed booking, under the Denied Boarding Regulation. This applies if you are travelling with an airline based in the EU or with a non-EU based airline flying from an EU airport.

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 of the flight.

If you’re travelling with a non-EU based airline flying from a non-EU destination, eg an American airline flying back from the States, the airline doesn’t have the same duty to look after you. Check the airline’s Conditions of Carriage to see what you are entitled to.

Which? advises travellers to check their airline website before travelling. You may not be given assistance at the airport if you have been advised against turning up there.

Your flight entitlements

If the cancellation means you no longer want to travel, ask your airline for a full refund of your flight costs.

If you still wish to travel, you’re entitled to:

  • a replacement flight at no extra cost on the next available flight
  • meals and refreshments while you are waiting, appropriate to the delay
  • the facility to make two phone calls or send two emails

You should also be offered accommodation if you are forced to wait overnight for your flight. 

Compensation for cancellations

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 or assistance.

Use our letter template to claim compensation for a cancelled flight if you’ve been affected. 

Package holidays

If you booked a package holiday and your flight is cancelled, you can either cancel your holiday and get a full refund, or re-book for another departure date. This usually has to be within 28-30 days.

You shouldn’t incur administration charges for re-booking your holiday. However, if the new holiday would have cost more money that the original, you may incur some additional costs.

Insurance claims

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

Some insurance policies will only cover you if you go to the airport, while others may not cover you if you turn up when advised not to.

More on this

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