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Flight Delay Due to Bad Weather: Are You Eligible for Compensation?

Your flight can be delayed or cancelled due to several reasons, the most common one being bad weather. Other reasons range from pre-planned strikes to vague explanations like ‘technical snags’. Irrespective of the reason, you will be the one who ends up losing on a day’s travel. In many cases, passengers themselves are unaware of the rights they have when their flights are delayed and airline operators keep them in the dark, to their advantage. If your flight ever gets delayed or cancelled in the future due to bad weather, keep the following in mind.

Monetary compensation is awarded to passengers when flights are delayed, but it is not uncommon for airlines to deny passengers this right. The law governing flight delay compensation, however, includes a few aspects on which the compensation is based.

Time

The airline is bound to compensate its passengers if the flight arrival is delayed by  three hours or more. Passengers can claim compensation if the delay is caused due to the airline’s fault, even though it may have taken reasonable measures to avoid it.

Circumstances

Every airline tries to ensure that it follows its time schedule, but there are instances when flight delays cannot be avoided; this is where ordinary and extraordinary circumstances come into play.

Ordinary circumstances: All delays caused due to ordinary circumstances such as bad weather  have to be compensated for, as these are the times when delays could have been avoided, but the airline failed to do so.

Extraordinary circumstances: The delays caused by reasons beyond the control of the airline are called extraordinary circumstances. They include external, unavoidable causes, similar to what is known as the ‘Act of God’ by insurance companies. Extreme weather conditions, strikes by airport staff, terrorist attacks, political unrest and bird strikes are factors that the airline operators have no way of controlling, avoiding or working around.

Bad weather – Is it always extraordinary?

No, there have been cases where courts have ruled even bad weather as an ordinary circumstance. If your flight got delayed or cancelled due to bad weather, it is an ordinary circumstance and you can make claims by contacting flight delay claiming companies. However, not every case of bad weather is classified as an extraordinary circumstance, because some areas face bad weather for a major portion of the year. In such cases, you have the right to claim compensation as the airline is expected to take reasonable measures to avoid delays.

How much compensation can be claimed?

As per EC regulations 261/2004, a passenger can claim the following amount of flight delay compensation:

  • Short flights: 250 EUR per passenger
  • Mid-haul flights: 400 EUR per passenger
  • Long-haul flights: 300 EUR between 3 hours and 4 hours and 600 EUR for over 4 hours

Court rulings have declared that passengers can make flight delay compensation claims on flights they had booked up to six years ago. So even if your flight was delayed due to bad weather in the past, you can still file for claims as long as it’s within the specified time frame.

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