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If you are due to be flying with British Airways (or indeed on other airlines) tomorrow, I would highly recommend taking a minute to check the status of your flight. BA has begun proactive cancellations on a number of routes in advance of the predicted snow.
I’m not sure how widespread the planned cancellations are (and, of course, it could get worse depending on how things develop tomorrow), but it certainly seems to be impacting a range of routes:
London – Amsterdam
Generally speaking, BA tries to focus planned cancellations on domestic and short haul high-frequency routes, so I wasn’t at all surprised to see cancellations for Leeds, Manchester, Paris and Amsterdam (the first four routes I checked).
What is interesting is that the weather doesn’t actually looks too bad tomorrow according to the forecasts – the real snow isn’t due until later in the week. If BA is already making cancellations, the next few days could potentially be very frustrating for travellers.
As always with these situations, all you can really do is try to make the best of it. That means being proactive in terms of monitoring your flights and making alternative/backup arrangements if you can. Be prepared for delays and cancellations – for example, if you have health issues, make sure you have enough medication with you (not in your bag) to last a few days. Double check that your travel insurance is up to date, etc.
Most importantly, keep your wits about you and try to maintain some sort of sense of humour! – Getting stressed won’t change anything.
EU 261 Rights when your flight is cancelled due to weather
Right to assistance
Under Assistance (Article 8) passengers must be offered the choice between:
- A full refund, within 7 days, of the fare paid for the segments not flown and also for the segments flown in case continuation serves no purpose. In case of cancellation of a connecting flight, the passenger is also entitled to a free flight to the point of origin.
For example, you are travelling MAN-LHR-BCN v.v. . If you arrive in LHR and the BCN flight is cancelled, you can opt to not travel further and to fly back to MAN free of charge. You should then be refunded the entire fare for the roundtrip. If a flight on the inbound trip is cancelled, and you choose not to travel further, you only receive a refund for the return trip (i.e. 50%).
- Rebooking on another flight to your final destination “under comparable travel conditions and at the earliest opportunity”. You can also choose to be rebooked on a later date to the same destination, if available. “Comparable travel conditions” mean that downgrades and extra transfers are to be avoided. Also, the flight timings should match the original timings as much as possible.
Right to Care
Article 9 obligates the airline to provide, in the event of a cancelled flight, irrespective of the cause of the cancellation, the following care:
- Meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time
- Two free phone calls or telex, fax- or e-mail messages.
And, if an alternative flight only departs the following day(s):
- Hotel accommodation
- Transport between the airport and the accommodation
There’s an argument as to whether compensation should also be due in these sort of situations. Common sense would suggest that a bit of snow in winter shouldn’t really count as an “extraordinary circumstance”, and therefore compensations should be granted. The reality, however, is that BA is extremely unlikely to pay out. If you fancy a Court battle with BA though, I’m sure many people would be interested to hear how it goes.
BA has a particular fondness for cancelling flights from Leeds Bradford (especially if I’m supposed to be flying!) even if the weather is fine, so I’m all too familiar with these situations. If you’re flying in the next few days, you have my sympathies. Good luck!