Flight Cancelled Due To Bad Weather - Can I Claim Compensation?

Under EU Regulation 261/2004, if your flight has been cancelled or delayed due to bad weather, you could be entitled to compensation. Our guide below explains your rights.

Updated on December 13th, 2018


You can also make a claim for compensation if your flight was cancelled or delayed by three hours or more, unless the bad weather that caused your cancellation or delay can be classed as ‘freak’ or ‘wholly exceptional’. This type of weather is known as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain how you can claim flight compensation if your flight was cancelled or delayed due to bad weather and explain what constitutes as ‘freak’ or ‘wholly exceptional’.

Flight Cancelled Due To Weather

If your flight is cancelled due to bad weather, what happens next will depend on the type of weather that caused the cancellation, who cancelled the flight, and how your airline responds to the cancellation.

The EU Regulation 261/2004 was introduced to protect passengers affected by a cancelled or delayed flight. It allows passengers to enforce their rights when subject to flight cancellations and delays, as well as denied boarding or downgrading.

Any flights taking off from or landing in the UK are always covered, as long as those landing in the UK are on an EU airline

If your fight was departing from an airport based in an EU country or if it was arriving into an EU country and operated by an EU airline, you’re covered by EU Regulation 261/2004, and you could be entitled to compensation for your cancelled flight.

That means that any flights taking off from or landing in the UK are always covered, as long as those landing in the UK are on an EU airline.
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What Happens If My Flight Is Cancelled Due To Bad Weather?

Regardless of whether or not the weather that caused your cancellation was an extraordinary circumstance, your airline has a series of responsibilities to you.

They must provide you with the following:

  • A reasonable amount of free food and drink
  • Two phone calls, emails, or fax messages
  • A hotel room if you have to stay overnight
  • Transport to and from the hotel

You’re only entitled to this help if your flight is delayed by two or more hours for shorter flights under 1,500km, 3 hours for flights between 1,500-3,500km or four hours for flights over 3,500km.

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My Flight Was Cancelled With Less Than 7 Days’ Notice (or on the day of departure)

If your flight is cancelled with less than 7 days’ notice (or on the day of departure), you’re entitled to the following from the airline:

  • Refund or alternative flight
  • Flight delay compensation
  • Care and assistance

How much compensation you’re entitled to depends on a number of circumstances around the cancellation, but basically, the more inconvenient it was for you, the more compensation you can claim.

Click Here To Claim Compensation For Your easyJet Flight Delays

If your flight was less than 1,500km and you depart more than an hour early and arrived up to two hours late to your destination, you’re entitled to flight delay compensation of around €125 per person.

If your flight was more than 3,500km and you arrive four hours late to your destination, you could be entitled to compensation of up to 600 Euros per individual passenger.

My Flight Was Cancelled 7-14 Days Before Departure – Can I Claim?

If your flight was cancelled with 7-14 days’ notice, you may still be able to claim compensation. This all depends on whether or not your airline offers you an alternative journey, and the departure and arrival times of that flight.

If your new flight departs no more than two hours earlier than your original flight and arrives no more than four hours later at your destination, you can’t claim flight delay compensation.

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However, if your new flight will cause you to arrive at your destination more than four hours later than your original flight, you can claim compensation.

Read our in depth guide to claiming for flight cancellation compensation for further information.

My Flight Was Cancelled More Than 14 Days Before Departure – Can I Claim?

If you were informed of the flight cancellation more than 14 days before departure, you are not entitled to claim flight delay compensation, but you are entitled to a refund or replacement flight.

If My Flight Is Cancelled Due To Weather Do I Get A Refund?

Whatever the reason behind the cancellation of your flight, you are always entitled to either rerouting or a full refund on your ticket.

You cannot claim both.

EU Regulation 261/2004 states that airlines must send you a full refund for the price of your ticket no later than 7 days after the scheduled flight if you request the cost of your ticket back.

If your return flight is cancelled and you have not already departed to your destination, you are entitled to a refund for both tickets. If you have already flown to your destination and you return flight is cancelled, you are only entitled to a refund for your return flight.

Flight Delayed Due To Weather

Flights that are delayed because of bad weather have many of the same obligations on the airline as cancelled flights but the compensation conditions and amounts can vary.

Regardless of the weather circumstances and even if they are classed as extraordinary, the airline must still provide you with care and assistance while you’re delayed.

Click Here To Claim Compensation For Your TUI Flight Delays

For delays over three hours you could also claim flight delay compensation for the inconvenience and the claim amounts can be as much as 600 Euros depending on the individual circumstances of your delay.

If you had a flight delay because of bad weather, the easiest way to find out if you have a claim is to enter your flight details into our flight delay claims calculator. We take weather readings at every airport across the globe every single hour, so we can tell you right away if you can claim.

Flight DistanceLength Of DelayCompensation Amount
Up to 1,500km3 hours or more€250
1,500km-3,500km3 hours or more€400
Over 3,500km3 hours or more & between 2 EU Member States€400
Over 3,500km3-4 hours€300
Over 3,500km4 hours €600

Can I Claim Compensation For A Cancelled Flight Due To Weather?

If your flight was cancelled due to bad weather then you can’t always make a claim for compensation, but you can in most cases.

There are occasions when the cancellation of a flight is not considered inherent in the running of the airline and they can’t be expected to pay passenger’s compensation.

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For example, if your flight cancellation was a decision of air traffic control and not the airline, or if the airport was closed because of unworkable weather conditions, then you can’t claim compensation from the airline.

You also cannot make a claim if the weather that cancelled your flight was ‘freak’ or ‘wholly exceptional’.

It is likely you cannot make a claim if any of the following occur.

  • Volcanic ash cloud
  • Extreme fog
  • Weather that closes the airport
  • Extreme snow

There may be instances of the above in which it is still possible to make a claim. For example, if your flight was travelling to Switzerland in December and your flight was cancelled due to snow, this may not be an exceptional circumstance. The airline should be expecting snow in Switzerland in December.

If you were travelling to Jamaica and there was snow, that would be a wholly exceptional circumstance.

What Types Of Weather Are Claimable?

Often airlines will tell you the weather that cancelled your flight was extreme in an attempt to avoid paying compensation. If you have been told that the weather that cancelled your flight was due to ‘freak’ or ‘wholly exceptional’ weather, it is always best to check.

Enter your details into our flight delay claims calculator and we’ll tell you within minutes whether you’re entitled to flight cancellation compensation.
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If your airline cancelled your flight because bad weather affected an earlier flight, or because there was snow in a country that should expect snow at the time of the year you were flying, this is not exceptional weather and you can make a claim.

So, you could claim flight cancellation compensation if:

  • Your flight from Manchester to Barcelona was delayed because earlier that day, your plane was delayed on a flight from Berlin to Manchester due to fog in Germany (because the bad weather hasn’t directly affected the Manchester – Barcelona flight)
  • Your flight from Gatwick to a ski resort during ski season was delayed because of snowfall at the destination airport (because snow at a ski resort during ski season isn’t freak or wholly exceptional)
  • Your flight from Liverpool to New York was delayed due to lightning but Air Traffic Control didn’t stop the airline from departing on time (because it wasn’t an ATC decision and neither airport was closed)

Extraordinary Circumstances

If your flight was directly affected by the bad weather, the only time you might not be able to claim flight delay compensation is if the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances. For that to be the case, one of the following three things happened:

  • The weather conditions were ‘freak’ or ‘wholly exceptional’ (like a volcanic ash cloud or hurricane)
  • Air Traffic Control (ATC) made a decision to delay or cancel flights because of the weather
  • An airport was closed due to bad weather

Flight Delays Due to Fog

Fog is to be expected in certain parts of the UK and at certain times of year. If fog is so severe that flights need to be delayed or cancelled by air traffic control, then it is likely that this is an extraordinary circumstance, but you could still claim if the plane you were supposed to be travelling on is delayed on an earlier flight because of fog.

Flight Delays Due to High Winds

If wind is so severe that air traffic control has to limit the number of flights they allow to take off or land, then this could be classed as an extraordinary circumstance.

Wind might also be classed as extraordinary if it makes landing and taking off difficult for pilots.
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Flight Delays Due to Thunderstorms/Lightning

You can claim for general thunderstorms and lightning, because these are not extraordinary circumstances, but if the weather is so extreme that air traffic control cancel flights, or if the airport is closed because of these weather conditions, then that would class as an extraordinary circumstance and you would not be able to claim.

What Are Extraordinary Circumstances? Find Our Your Rights Under EU Reg 261

Flight Delays Due To Snow

Snow is complicated, because a certain amount of snow at particular time of year and in snow prone countries is not exceptional, and airlines should expect it and make provisions for it. If snow forces air traffic control to cancel flights or airport closures, then this could be seen as an extraordinary circumstance.

You should be aware that cancellations due to a lack of antifreeze are not classed as an extraordinary circumstance, as airlines should always have adequate antifreeze in icy weather.

Flight Delays Due To Ash Clouds

If you tried to travel in the summer of 2010, you were probably concerned that the Icelandic ash cloud was going to ground your flight.

If it had, you would not have been entitled to compensation. Volcanic ash clouds are an extraordinary circumstance. They are out of the ordinary, and the airline cannot take precautions against them.

Your airline would still have a duty of care to you under EU 261/2004, so they should still provide you with a phone call, accommodation, and food and drink.

Flight Delays Due To Sand Storms

Even in countries in which you would think sandstorms are quite common, they’re not. They’re considered an extraordinary circumstance, unless for your airline is the only one at a particular airport that saw fit to ground their flights, while everyone else is operating normally. In that case, it is more than likely you could make a claim.

Care and Assistance

Regardless of the reason your flight was cancelled, your airline has a duty of care and assistance to you under EU Regulation 261/2004. They must reroute you or offer you a full refund, and they must provide you with the following if you are going to be delayed by two hours or more.

  • A reasonable amount of free food and drink (no alcohol)
  • Two phone calls, emails or fax messages
  • A hotel room if your flight delay means you need to stay overnight
  • Transport to and from the hotel (if you need it)

Planning Ahead For Bad Weather

If you’re flying in the winter and you’re travelling somewhere in Europe, there’s a good chance your flight will be affected by snow. It’s always best to be prepared, especially if your trip is essential.

If you think your flight might be affected by bad weather, it’s best to plan in advance. You should monitor the weather close to your departure and arrival airports in the run up to your flight. You can also contact your airline before you leave the house, or in the days before you’re due to travel.

If you’re expecting bad weather, it’s best to have a contingency plan in place to increase your chances of arriving at your destination as close to your planned arrival time as possible.

  • Look for alternative way to travel to your destination, such as flights from non-affected airports.
  • If bad weather is affecting your destination, make sure your hotel is still open.
  • If it isn’t, look for alternative accommodation in advance of arrival.
  • If you’re travelling to the airport and anticipating a delay, make sure you have medication and anything you might need for children on you. Don’t check it in with your luggage.

Informing your hotel that you might not arrive when expected is also a good idea, so that they can make the appropriate changes to their bookings if they need to.

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