What to do if your flight or train is cancelled because of the snow - Your rights and how to check if your journey is affected
Thousands of passengers are stranded abroad while others are grounded in the UK. Here's what to do if it happens to you.
Britain has been hit by a 'snow bomb' with freezing temperatures and a blanket of snow announcing the arrival of winter with a vengeance.
The severe weather has caused travel chaos, with flights delayed, cancelled and diverted and problems on the train lines too.
So if you are far from home or can't get to your destination, what treatment - and compensation - should you expect?
Emma Grimster, at TravelSupermarket
, explains: "Flight disruptions aren't ideal, especially when you’re looking forward to your big getaway or a Christmas shopping trip. However, there are some tips that are worth bearing in mind to minimise disruption.
"If you have a flight booked, check with your airline and airport well before leaving home for any updates and advice on disruption to schedules. Alternatively contact your airline by phone and ensure it has your up-to-date contact details lodged in your booking.
"Rail companies also publish details of delays and changes to schedules online and you can log on to driving organisations such as the RAC or the Highways Agency for the latest road conditions. Local and national radio stations such as the BBC also offer up to the minute information.
"When travelling to the airport allow extra time for your journey – especially if you’re travelling by road. It’s a good idea to check beforehand that your car is in peak condition for the roads with topped up oil, fuel, anti-freeze and water as well as a supply of warm clothes, food and drink. Remember that if you miss your flight due to road conditions or the failure of public transport to get you to the airport, this is your responsibility and the airlines are within their rights to charge you for a new flight. Missed flight cover in a good quality travel insurance policy will be able to help with this."
With disruption likely, travellers should pay extra attention to warnings, bulletins and updates with regards to all journeys - including short and long haul flights, coach trips, Eurostar and train travel.
If you're worried your flight may be cancelled or delayed due to extreme weather, keep an eye on the relevant social media pages and make a note of the contact numbers to call for up to the minute updates.
Here's a breakdown the most popular airports and contact details.
If your flight is rerouted due to bad weather, your rights may be slightly different.
Firstly, if the air carrier proposes a flight to an alternative airport instead, they must bear the cost of transfer between the alternative airport to a close-by destination agreed by you - passenger. Contact the airline involved.
If a diversion leads to a delay, check the delays section below to find out about your rights.
Emma Grimster adds: “If you find your travel arrangements disrupted, one of the quickest ways to find out your rights is to down load the “Passenger rights” app which offers guidance on your travel rights in the EU.
“If you’re flight has been diverted, the air carrier has to bear the cost of the transfer between the alternative airport and a close by destination to your original destination. Contact your carrier directly to agree this.”
What are my rights if my flight is cancelled or delayed due to bad weather?
If your flight is cancelled, you have the legal right to either a full refund - including on other flights that you won’t be able to use in the same booking such as onward or return flights. Alternatively, you're entitled to a replacement flight to get you to your destination.
You may also be able to claim compensation if your flight is delayed for three hours or more and you're flying from or to a European airport, or with an EU-based airline such as Ryanair or British Airways. See our flight delays compensation guide
for more information.
In some cases, the airline may claim "extraordinary circumstances" and therefore refuse your claim, however, if for example, you are told you can’t fly due to weather conditions, but other flights are departing, you may choose to challenge the airline.
"If you were planning to travel overseas this week only to find your flight has been cancelled, it's crucial you know your rights and you don’t end up out of pocket," explained Hannah Maundrell, editor of Money.co.uk
"If your flight is cancelled you’re entitled to a refund within 7 days or an alternative flight; if you need to travel to a different airport to take it you should ask the airline to pay.
"It must be the airline’s fault for you to be entitled to compensation. Extraordinary circumstances, such as snow will not automatically entitle you to claim for inconvenience– but it’s always worth asking.
"It’s not confirmed that all flights will be affected so the key thing is to check with your airline before you travel to the airport.”
You are entitled to assistance, including the choice between:
- A full refund of the cost of your ticket
- An alternative flight to your final destination at the earliest opportunity.
- An alternative flight at a later date of your choosing, subject to availability.
If you choose an alternative flight to your final destination at the earliest opportunity, you are also entitled to:
- Food and drink if your wait is over two hours
- Hotel accommodation where a stay of one or more nights is necessary
- Two phone calls or emails
- Airlines must offer assistance until they can get you to your destination, but your right to compensation only applies if the cause of the delay is within the airline's control.
Train delays or cancellations due to bad weather.
National Rail - which oversees all train lines - says customers must be able to claim compensation if their train arrive more than an hour late.
Emma Coulthurst from TravelSupermarket.com
told Mirror Money: "Grand Central, Great Western Railway and South West Trains are the only companies that stick to this 60-minute rule.
"If you are travelling with any other train company, such as Virgin or Great Northern, you can claim compensation if you are delayed over 30 minutes.
"To claim, you need to submit a form online or in the post. Most firms do this through a Delay Repay compensation scheme
. Keep hold of all your receipts and make a note of the time you arrived at your destination.
"If you don't have it any more — as most likely it was gobbled by a machine at a ticket barrier — you should be able to use your receipt or credit card statement."
If you're travelling on Eurostar, the good news is no journeys have been affected today, however, as always, double check your trip before you leave home - you can do this at www.eurostar.com/uk-en/travel-info
For reference, here's a breakdown of your rights if you do experience any issues on your journey. Any delays of an hour or more, could mean you're entitled to money back.
- For delays between 60 minutes and 119 minutes, you can claim a refund of 25% of the price of your single ticket or a Eurostar e-voucher to use on a future journey to the value of 25% of the fare which you paid.
- For a delay of 120 – 179 minutes, you can claim either a refund of 50% of the fare or an e-voucher for 50% of your paid fare.
- For a delay of 3 hours or more, you can claim either a refund of 50% of the fare or an e-voucher for 75% of the fare.
With a delay of more than 1hour, you may decide not to travel, in which case you can exchange your ticket for free and travel on another date within 120 days (90 days if your booking involves onward travel with another train company), subject to availability.
Alternatively you can:
- Request a full refund, regardless of your original ticket conditions.
- Make sure you keep your original tickets and all your receipts – you’ll need these to make your claim.
If your Eurostar is delayed or cancelled and you need to stay the night, Eurostar must provide:
- A taxi – if you’d prefer to spend the night at home or at a friend’s place, they will cover the cost of a taxi for you to get there, up to £50 per taxi.
- A hotel stay – up to £150 a room per night
- Meals – up to £50 a person for each 24 hour period