The now infamous Beast from the East has brought snow, ice and manifest travel disruption to much of the UK. Where do you stand if this monster snap of weather impacts your holiday plans?
From the Angel of the North to the Ruins of Pompeii...
It doesn’t happen often in the UK. But when widespread snow arrives, it doesn’t half cause a commotion. A-roads up and down the country are currently sprinkled with stranded motorists and jack-knifed lorries. Hundreds of schools are closed, prompting a surge in amateur snowman production. And forecasters have warned of long delays on road and rail networks.
Not ideal when you have a plane to catch.
Up to 40cm of snow has already fallen in some areas - and there’s much more to come. Yet it’s not just Blighty that’s bitten by the cold snap. The Beast of the East has flashed its gnashers as far south as the Mediterranean coast. Even the Ruins of Pompeii near Naples in southern Italy have been furnished with a dusting of snow. That hardly ever happens.
So what do you do if your holiday travel is disrupted by bad weather? What are your rights if your flight is cancelled? And what can you claim for on your travel insurance? Knowing where you stand isn’t always easy. Especially when all around you seems to have turned to chaos and you are stressed about losing your holiday.
Let’s try and get to the bottom of your rights.
Don’t hope for compensation from your airline
When flights are delayed or cancelled, you are normally entitled to compensation from your airline or travel operator. Unfortunately that’s not the case if your flight is disrupted because of snow or other extreme weather. It’s what’s known as a ‘force majeure’: an unavoidable freak occurrence over which the airline has no control. Under these conditions your airline will refuse to pay compensation and has no legal obligation to do so.
BUT...you are entitled to another flight. Or a refund.
When all is chaos at the airport, try not to panic. Whatever the circumstances, your airline is contractually obliged to get you to your destination. It is their responsibility to organise replacement travel. Or if you are flying from within the EU, you are entitled to a full refund on the cost of your unused ticket after a delay of five hours or more.
Delayed? Hungry? There IS such a thing as a free lunch.
While you are waiting at the airport for a delayed or rescheduled flight, your airline is obliged under EU legislation to look after you. You can expect vouchers for food and refreshments as well as overnight accommodation where necessary.
What about your travel insurance?
Your travel insurance may also pay-out for any delays or disruption to your flights or holiday caused by bad weather. Alas, they might not. Every travel insurance provider is different and policies can vary dramatically. Make sure you check your policy wording, especially if you are due to travel in the next 48 hours.
What are you covered for with World First?
Here’s a summary of what existing World First policyholders can expect from their cover.
If you’re delayed after check-in, you can claim
Stuck at the airport for twelve hours or more because of bad weather? Our policies include a benefit for up to £300* of compensation (as long as you checked-in on time). Remember 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
Getting stranded at the airport is no way to start the trip of a lifetime. If after a delay of twelve hours or more you decide to abandon your trip, you can make a claim for up to £5,000* on the cost of your holiday.
If you miss your flight because of bad weather...
The roads are chaos at the moment. What if the dangerous conditions cause an accident you are involved in? Or your vehicle suffers a breakdown en route? It may mean you miss your flight. If that’s the case you can make a claim for up to £750* for the cost of missing your departure - whether you were travelling on public transport or in your own vehicle.
If snow here in the UK - or anywhere for that matter - disrupts your travel plans on the return leg of your journey and delays your arrival home, your policy duration will automatically extend to keep you covered until you're back safely in Blighty. Of course, there is no charge for this. Just leave it to us.
4 tips for travelling during extreme weather
Sort your travel insurance as early as you can
The current spell of extreme weather has already started to disrupt travel. Any new policies will not cover you for claims that arise as a result of the weather. That’s why it’s always best to take out your travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday, rather than waiting until the last minute.
Stay ahead of the forecast. Stay in-touch with the airport.
Check the latest forecast and travel advice before you leave. It’s likely that you will be better off sticking to major routes wherever possible. It’s also sensible to check the latest situation at the airport with your airline before you leave. But remember: you must make sure you check-in on time at your departure airport otherwise you may not be able to claim for things like travel delay or trip abandonment.
If you can be flexible on dates, you should
Believe it or not, most airlines are keen to avoid airport chaos. When extreme weather is forecast, they may allow you to shift your flights forward or back by seven days at no extra cost. A little flexibility on your part could be the difference between soaking up some winter sun or starting your holiday in a frenetic airport terminal.
Looking to make a claim? Gather as much documentation as you can.
If you believe you’re entitled to a pay-out from your travel insurer, gather as much relevant and authoritative documentation as you can. That means asking your airline for things like written statements regarding the time, cause and duration of delays as well as documentation of road closures and travel incidents if you are held up en route to the airport. No amount of information is too much when it comes to supporting your claim.
Questions? Get in touch.
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 0345 90 80 161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Cover levels apply to our Premier policies