FLIGHTS can get cancelled for any number of reasons, from bad weather to political flare-ups like the current India-Pakistan crisis.
And as well as ruining your holiday, flight cancellations often leave you out of pocket.
So how can you get your money back if your flight has been cancelled and you’re owed compensation? Here’s what to do if your flight is cancelled.
Getty Images – Getty Planes were grounded at Gatwick Airport on December 20, 2018, after drones were deliberately flown over the runway
What are my rights if my flight is cancelled?
If your flight is cancelled or delayed, you have a legal right to either a full refund within seven days or a replacement flight.
You may also be able to claim compensation if your flight was delayed for three hours or more and you were flying from or to a European airport, or with an EU-based airline such as Ryanair or British Airways.
However, airlines are not legally obliged to compensate customers for delays or cancellations in instances where the flight was cancelled due to reasons beyond the airlines control, such as a volcanic eruption, a strike or extreme weather.
In the case of strikes or computer glitches, like the one which affected BA passengers in 2017, you can claim compensation from the airline for cancellations and delays of more than three hours.
Thousands of people are set to receive refunds and compensation after flights were cancelled at Gatwick following two illegal drones were flown over the runway.
And many more will be trying to get compensation for their cancelled flights after airline Flybmi announced it was going into administration.
News Group Newspapers Ltd In instances where a flight is cancelled due to reasons beyond the airlines control, they are not legally obliged to provide compensation
Some airlines may stretch the definition of the extraordinary circumstances that won’t permit them to fly, says consumer body Which?, so if you don’t agree that there were extraordinary circumstances you can challenge them.
For example, if you are told you can’t fly due to weather conditions, but other flights are departing, you may choose to challenge the airline.
In most cases, however, the airline doesn’t have to pay compensation for flights cancelled as a result of severe weather.
If you are not entitled to financial compensation for flight delays in these circumstances, you could be entitled to refreshments at the airport, but this may have to be claimed on your travel insurance.
In some cases, travellers are entitled to free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required.
If you are struggling to get compensation directly from the airline, contact the aviation regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who may be able to intervene on your behalf.
The CAA can only help you if the flight was cancelled or delayed within the UK.
Rex Features In conditions such as this, where there is poor visibility, flights may be cancelled
What are the EU rules for flight cancellation compensation?
EU rules mean passengers caught up in delays on a connecting flight outside the UK can now claim compensation.
Delayed passengers could be entitled to a payout of up to £530 but the rules are really complicated.
Before, you could only apply for a payout if your flight was leaving an EU country or you were flying with an EU-based airline, and it was delayed by more than three hours.
So if you were flying from London to Sydney with a stop off in Dubai, and the second flight was delayed or you’re stopped from boarding, you couldn’t claim any money back.
This is because the second flight isn’t leaving from the EU.
However under the new rules, you will be able to claim a payout because you checked-in at an EU airport.
It’s not clear how much money you will be entitled to, but if it’s the same as flights leaving Europe then you can claim up to €250 (£229) for short-haul flights and €400 (£367) for mid-haul flights and €600 (£530) for long-haul flights.
Fame Flynet It’s important to check your rights before flying – as some instances will not be covered by the airline
Will my insurance cover me if my flight is cancelled?
If you can’t claim compensation directly through the airline, your travel insurance may refund you.
According to comparison site MoneySuperMarket.com, if you’re delayed at a snowbound airport then a standard travel insurance policy would usually cover you.
Policies vary so you should check the small print, but a delay of eight to 12 hours will normally mean you qualify for some money from your insurer.
Remember to get written confirmation of your delay from the airport as your insurer will need proof.
If your flight is cancelled entirely, you’re unlikely to be covered by your insurance.
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How can I find out if my flight is delayed or cancelled?
In unusual conditions you are advised to check the status of the flight with the relevant airline before setting off for the airport.
You can also check today’s live departures boards for Heathrow, Gatwick and London City airports by following these links.
Earlier this year, Heathrow Airport were forced to cancel around 100 flights because of severe weather warnings.
Has Ryanair cancelled your flight? Here’s how to claim up to £350