Leading law firm Bott and Co forecasts that hundreds of flights could suffer delays and cancellations as the Met Office issues yellow warnings before 80mph winds and heavy rain is set to batter Britain this weekend. It is likely that these high winds will lead to air traffic control imposing flow rate restrictions and these are classed as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ and therefore not due compensation. The firm says that passengers do still have rights and options available to them under these circumstances.
In 2018 when Britain was affected by the ‘Beast from the East’, there were 3,294 cancelled flights and 1,547 flights delayed for more than two hours over an 11 day period. At its highest point, one day saw two in five scheduled flights cancelled with 986 (34%) flights called off within 24 hours. This accounts for more than half of the total amount of delays and cancellations for the full winter period that year. Although Storm Ciara is said to be making a more fleeting visit, bracing Britain with its presence for 48 hours, the volume of flights affected this time can be determined by those from the Beast from the East’s.
Coby Benson, Flight Delay Compensation Solicitor at Bott and Co said, “Many people remain in the dark about their rights under EC Regulation 261/2004 when flight disruption is caused by weather or air traffic control restrictions.
“It’s a common misconception that bad weather is always an extraordinary circumstance, which would stop the airlines having to pay compensation. However delays caused by weather conditions that are not considered ‘freakish’ or ‘wholly exceptional’ are indeed covered by the regulation and many passengers could be owed compensation. However if air traffic control impose restrictions then this will be an extraordinary circumstances and no compensation would be due.
“For flights cancelled passengers should be offered a full refund, a replacement flight under comparable transport arrangements at the earliest available opportunity or travel at a later date subject to availability of seats. Passengers may also be eligible for compensation if the reason for the cancellation is not extraordinary and if reasonable measures weren’t put in place by the airline.
“Regardless of the reason for the hold up, if a flight is delayed between two and four hours airlines have a duty to provide passengers with adequate care and assistance. This includes food and drink vouchers as well as two telephone calls or emails. Passengers delayed overnight must be provided with accommodation, including transport there and back to the airport.”