Compensation for the Weather

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

The last week has brought enough disruption to travellers that makes some people wonder whether the effort is worthwhile. Holidaymakers planning to get away for Christmas have been hit by the troubles at Eurostar as well as by the impact of the snow.  This time the snow has been widespread with airports like Gatwick, Luton, Manchester and Aberdeen being closed for a time as well as overseas airports such as Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt and Dusseldorf. Snow has been recorded in Corsica and Venice, Madrid and the beach at San Sebastian. You have probably seen pictures of how bad it was in the north east of the United States.

So with so much disruption can you make a claim?

Airlines are under no obligation to pay compensation as this appears as “Act of God”. They are obliged, however, to transport you according to your ticket. Most will provide nibbles and drinks if you are delayed by the weather but, it is a moot point if they have to. With Eurostar it is a different matter. There, the problem was a breakdown (admittedly, it seems that it was caused by the weather) so they have issued free tickets and compensation. But then it could be argued that they need to do something to restore their reputation. So check your travel insurance, (and if you don’t have any, you really should plan better). There are some policies that may look generously but by and large most policies will have a standard clause that gives them a “get out.”

In the US this week, what has been called a Passenger Bill of Rights will come into force in 4 months time which will impose penalties if airlines keep passengers on planes on the ground without letting them off. Now after 3 hours, compensation will come into being and after 2 hours passengers must receive food and water (sounds like prison jargon!)

It could be that the weather will make the EU Commission consider some changes to the consumer protection legislation. At present, the EU is seeking the views of both industry and consumer groups about holiday and travel protection. This consultation ends in the beginning of February and CD-Traveller will be asking for your views early in the year.

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