Flying is always a hassle, and there are many things that can go wrong before you even board the airplane. One of these is the delay or cancellation of your flight due to extreme weather. This can include tornadoes, ice and snow storms, thunderstorms and ash clouds. When cancellations happen because of the weather there are many things to consider and know.

Can you claim compensation when your flight is cancelled for bad weather?

While the short answer is no, there are a few caveats. While it is stated in the European Union Regulation 261/2004 that passengers can get between €250 and €600 for a flight delay, overbooking or cancellation, there are times when that is impossible, and bad weather is one of those times. This is because bad weather is known as an “extraordinary circumstance” and is something that is beyond the control of the airline. No matter how many preparations have been done, there are times that a flight has to be delayed or cancelled because the weather is just too severe. Examples of this include an ash cloud which affects the pilots ability to see and the particles in the cloud can muck up the height and speed readings for the plane, extreme weather such as heavy snow or rain which can freeze the plane, or being forced to land because of a storm front.

Despite all that, there are certain circumstances where you may be entitled to compensation due to the weather. Sometimes airlines will use bad weather to justify delaying or cancelling a flight when there is no reason to, or to avoid compensation claims. What is cancelled flight compensation explained here. To see if a weather claim is legitimate, you may need to check other airlines. If other airlines are taking off or leaving on time, while your flight has been cancelled or delayed because of “weather,” you may be able to make a claim because the other airlines were not affected. Another way to see if their weather claim is real is to check flight compensation companies which are able to access weather and flight information databases to determine which airlines were able to take off it at all. Using this information can help you make a claim.

There are some airlines that will invoke the weather claim if they have no de-icing fluid. While it is dangerous to fly in negative temperatures, airlines have tried cancelling flights because there is no de-icing fluid and they claim the weather under “extraordinary circumstances.” Luckily, airlines can be held liable for not having deicing fluid and being unable to take off. This is because even though they couldn’t control the temperature, they still had the means to predict the temperature and should’ve been more prepared for the weather.

What to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled by weather

If your flight plans are disrupted by the weather there are a few things you can do to make things a little easier. The first is to ask the airline if they can confirm the delay in writing. This will give you documentation that the flight was disrupted in case you are able to claim compensation. Next you can check if other flights are still taking off. This will also help you if you are entitled to claim compensation, and if you don’t want to wait around, you may be able to get a ticket for one of those flights. Some airports provide complimentary refreshments for stranded passengers. Take advantage of this as being hungry can add to the stress of the situation.

If a claim is possible there are a few requirements that need to be met. First, other flights must be taking off. The delayed or cancelled flight has to have happened within the past 6 years. You must have arrived at the flight on time. Your flight must originate or land in the EU or your airline must be a part of the EU. You landed at least 3 hours later than you were supposed to at your destination.

If you are entitled to compensation, the European Regulation 261/2004 states that it depends on how far the flight was supposed to be. If the flight is equal to or less than 1500 kilometers, then you are entitled to €250. If the flight was between 1500 and 3500 kilometers, then you are entitled to €400. And if the flight was 3500 kilometers or more than you are entitled to €600.

Bad weather can make travel stressful, but knowing what to do and how to do it allows you to be prepared in case it happens.