Bad weather predictions and your winter travel plans. Get in-the-know before it snows.
Back in April some long term weather forecasters predicted that this winter will be the worst since 1947, with 100 days of snow, lower than average temperatures and ‘treachery’ of every sort on Britain’s roads. Not to mention ' panic buying, 'arctic temperatures', 'icy blasts' and 'bitter gales'.
It’s a story that has been filling the front pages recently. After all, it has got a bit chilly all of a sudden. There has even been early morning frostings and smatterings of the white stuff in some parts of the country. Snow frenzy has struck. You can almost hear the hysteria from here: Britain at a standstill, commuting horror, airport angst. Oh, and what’s that? Other countries have snow every year and yet it doesn’t stop them from functioning perfectly normally? Yes, we know. Now I must get to the shops and buy all the tins I can get my hands on.
Don’t panic. It’s only a prediction
Among the predictions and doom-saying there is one small voice that’s repeating the same thing it does every year: “don’t believe the hype”. Of course it’s the Met Office, which is claiming (as it does every time some paranoia inducing sub editor writes an hysterical headline about weather that may or may not happen) that predictions are predictions and you can never rely on forecasts that look further than 5 days ahead. Ok. That sounds reasonable.
But what if it does snow for days on end? What happens then?
What if snow does actually disrupt your travel plans?
It does happen. And there is nowhere we hear about more than the airport. They do close from time to time, as many of us already know, and it generally causes chaos and mayhem, with breathless news reporters seeking out the cold, tired and hungry waiting for a plane to somewhere better. In previous winters we've seen snow disrupt thousands of flights, cause havoc at airports and cause thousands of people to be extremely disgruntled at the world, the weather and a handful of unfortunate airline employees who were stuck in the firing line.
So what do you do if your holiday travel is disrupted by bad weather? What are your rights? Is the cost of travel protected? Can you seek compensation? Can you claim on your travel insurance?
In advance of this winter’s anticipated chaos, here’s where you stand. And some advice that might help if the worst does happen.
Looking for compensation from your airline? Don’t bother
Ordinarily, you would be entitled to seek compensation as well as a refund on your ticket for flight cancellations and delays. However, this is not the case if your flight is disrupted because of extreme weather. It is cited as what’s called a ‘force majeure’; an unavoidable freak occurrence over which the airline has no control. During such circumstances your airline will refuse to pay compensation and has no legal obligation to do so.
Go later or get a refund
Whatever happens, your airline is contractually obliged to get you from A to B – even if that means using a different operator. They will provide alternative arrangements to get you to your destination, though in reality this could mean a lengthy wait until the next available seat on a later flight. Alternatively, once your flight has been delayed for more than five hours you are entitled to a full refund on your unused ticket if you are flying from within the EU. So, if bad weather is predicted ahead of your flight, make a few plans (like booking an airport hotel), take extra food and be prepared for a long wait. The secret is to make sure you stay informed.
One last phone call? What to expect at the airport
If you choose to wait it out at the airport, your airline is obliged under EU legislation to look after you. That means you can expect money for food and refreshments as well as overnight accommodation where necessary. You will also get two free phone calls and emails to friends or family if you are delayed for more than two hours. Again though, if it’s predicted, make plans - everyone else will be after everything they can get. Take food, games for the kids, perhaps even a blow up pillow and warm clothes.
Can you claim on your travel insurance? Maybe not
On top of the automatic protection you receive from your airport carrier, your travel insurance may also pay-out for any delays or disruption to your flights or holiday caused by bad weather. But they might not. It’s important to remember that every insurance provider is different. Their policies can vary dramatically, so make sure you check the small print. If in doubt, call them before you set off if travel disruption is predicted.
Can you claim on your World First travel insurance? Yes
At World First we like to be different. Sure, extreme weather is out of your airline’s control. But it’s out of your control too, so why should you be left out of pocket? Here’s a summary of what you can expect when you insure with us here at World First.
- If you’re delayed after check-in, we’ll pay-out.
If you are delayed at the airport for 12 hours or more because of bad weather, we will compensate you providing you checked-in on time. Refer to your policy schedule for a full breakdown of the benefits you can expect depending on the level of cover you have taken out. You just need to get a representative of your airline to confirm the length and nature of your delay in writing.
- Up to £5,000 if you abandon your trip.
If you are delayed for more than 12 hours at the airport you will be entitled to claim Trip Abandonment on certain policies, with a maximum payout of up to £5,000 on our single and multi trip Superior policies. So if you decide a major delay is no way to start the holiday of a lifetime, you’ll be able to recover your holiday expenses.
- Compensation if you miss your flight because of bad weather.
If bad weather causes an accident you’re involved in or your vehicle suffers mechanical breakdown en route to your departure point and you subsequently miss your flight, we will provide compensation up to the amount covered for trip cancellation. The amount depends on what type of policy you have taken out but could be as much as £5,000 per person on our Superior policy. We will also pay-out if you are travelling to the airport on public transport that becomes delayed as a result of the adverse weather.
- Auto-extend policies
If snow delays you on the return leg of your journey, there’s no need to worry about extending your cover as your policy duration will automatically extend until you’re back in the UK. There is no charge for this.
And some words to the wise…
Don’t forget that you won’t be able to claim on your policy if you buy it after the disruption starts, so buy it when you buy your flights or holiday and you’ll be well covered. Also, be vigilant when it comes to travel news, weather reports and airport closures. Stay in touch with everyone concerned if you are worried. You would also do well to be flexible. If bad weather is forecast you may be able to delay your trip or even bring it forward – the airlines may welcome it too – so stay in touch with them.
Finally, get as much documentation as you can to prove your delays or problems. It’ll make it easier when it comes to making a claim.
If you have any questions regarding your travel insurance, get in touch with us and we’ll do our best to give you all the help you need. Call 0845 90 80 161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.