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7 Feb 2020

From power cuts to travel disruption: three useful consumer protections if Storm Ciara disrupts your plans

Your rights if you're hit by a power cut or your travel plans are left in disarray

Storm Ciara is predicted to bring widespread disruption across the UK, with heavy rain and gales this weekend - but what can you do if it disrupts your plans?

The Met Office is predicting that there will be disruption to flights, trains and ferries, damage to buildings and a 'good chance' of power cuts, due to the weather conditions.

It has issued a series of severe weather alerts, including an amber warning for south-east England on Sunday.

Yellow warnings have been issued for north-western parts of the UK on Saturday, followed by the whole of the UK on Sunday.

1. Don't get left out of pocket by lengthy power cuts

Your electricity distribution company has 24 hours to restore electricity supply if it fails due to a storm.

If not, £70 should be paid to customers, with a further £70 to be paid for each additional period of 12 hours in which supply is not restored, up to a cap of £700.

For a severe storm, which Storm Ciara is likely to be, the amount you receive will be the same but won't start until you've had 48 hours without power.

The difference in classification between a storm and a severe storm is related to the number of supply faults experienced in a 24-hour period.

2. Don't get abandoned by the airline if your flight is disrupted

If, due to the storm, your flight is delayed by more than two hours or cancelled, your airline has a legal duty to look after you.

You're entitled to:

  • two free phone calls, faxes or emails
  • free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay
  • free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required.

However, you can't claim compensation, because extreme weather is an 'extraordinary circumstance', and a fair reason for a flight to be delayed or cancelled.

You can read more about your flight rights here.

We recommend that you check with your airline for any disruption before travelling to the airport.

3. Get back the cost of the ticket if your train travel is disrupted

Network Rail has warned that speed restrictions and reduced train services are likely to be in place across large parts of Britain on Sunday.

Disruption could continue into Monday morning, as repair work may be hampered by the conditions.

Strong winds have the potential to damage overhead electric wires and tracks due to debris or trees falling onto the railway.

You might be able to make a delay repay claim and get back some or all of the cost of your ticket - unless the train company has published an emergency timetable in response to the storm.

Or, if you decide not to travel due to severe delays, you will be able to claim a refund of the cost of your ticket. However, an administration charge of up to £10 on each ticket could be charged, and you will need to apply for the refund within 28 days of the expiry of the ticket's validity.

You can use our guide to make a delay repay claim.

Passengers travelling on Sunday or on Monday morning are urged to check for updates before they travel.