Your passenger rights during bad weather conditions
Storms, hurricanes as well as heavy snow and ice are all legitimate reasons as to why a flight might be delayed or cancelled all together. Unfortunately in these cases, severe weather conditions are typically considered to be an “extraordinary circumstance”, meaning that passengers are not entitled to compensation under EU Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. However, the legal situation is not always so clear cut in the case of unusual weather events. Rather, all cases must be considered individually as with the EasyJet versus Jager flight in 2012.
When airlines are liable for payment even in extreme weather conditions
There are typically two situations in which bad weather conditions are cited as an excuse. The first is when the flight is delayed or cancelled because the take-off and route is considered to be too dangerous or risky to fly. The second is when the airline is not adequately prepared for the weather, even though it was well within the airline’s control. As an example, a plane might be delayed if the airline runs out of de-icing chemical spray during an unexpectedly long winter. If the latter is the case, the airline cannot prove that the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances, as similar flights with other airlines would have taken off on time under the same conditions. In these instances, the airline is obligated to pay out compensation to all affected passengers.
Claims when the airline is not at fault
Regardless of whether the delay or cancellation was the responsibility of the airline or not, passengers are entitled to receive basic care and support services for their trouble. Depending on the duration of the delay, these can include drinks, meals, free phone calls and any necessary hotel accommodation and transportation. In the case of a flight cancellation, passengers should be offered the choice between alternative transportation to the final destination or having the ticket refunded and, if applicable, a return flight to the first point of departure.