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Multiple cyclones hit the US during Thanksgiving: can I claim compensation?

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Last week, many travelling in the United States for their Thanksgiving holiday, or into the US for other reasons, experienced severe travel disruptions. Before and during the holiday period, numerous areas of the US were affected by weather phenomena such as blizzards in Colorado, Wyoming and Denver and a cyclone that hit Oregon and a large part of northern California. many flights into and from Denver Airport were delayed or cancelled due to the problems.

Thanksgiving was ruined: flight disruptions at US Airports

According to FlightAware, there were nearly 5600 delayed and 800 cancelled flights on Wednesday and 485 flight delays and 23 cancellations within the US on Thanksgiving Thursday. That is a hefty number of flight disruptions!

Denver Airport was hit the hardest by the unrelenting weather

Snow chaos at airports across the US

At the airport of Denver, almost 500 flights were cancelled and 500 more were delayed, which meant many passengers faced the horrific realisation that they might not spend the holidays at home. Reports said that the snow was that bad that Monday night, nearly 1000 stranded passengers slept at the airport in hope of being able to fly home in the morning.If you were one of the passengers stranded at Denver Airport or another airport over night on Thanksgiving, then we hope that you eventually managed to get home safely and enjoy some of that delicious turkey!

A cyclone hit the US: Can I claim compensation if my flight on Thanksgiving was delayed or cancelled?

If your flight on Thanksgiving was delayed or cancelled due to the weather, unfortunately, you are not entitled to compensation. As ‘bad weather’ is classed as an extraordinary circumstance, according to Regulation EC No 261/2004, the airline cannot be held accountable and therefore you do not qualify for compensation.

What are extraordinary circumstances?

The following situations are considered extraordinary by the European regulation and will excuse the airline from paying compensation:

  • Bad weather, for example: thunderstorms, heavy rain, thick fog, snow and high gusts of wind
  • An air sector strike: think along the lines of the country’s air traffic control personnel going on strike; another possibility is the airport’s baggage handlers walking out
  • Political circumstances: terror attacks, political unrest or security risks can all be seen as examples of such situations
  • Natural disasters: a volcanic eruption or a hurricane would qualify as an extraordinary circumstance
  • Bird strike: when there’s a collision between the aircraft and a bird or other foreign object
  • An unruly or ill passenger
  • Other options: delays caused by the airport staff (long queues during security checks)

If you wish to know more details about extraordinary circumstances, then click here.

You’re always entitled to care in case of long waits due to a delay or cancellation

However, if your flight was delayed and you were stranded at the airport, then you should have received care and appropriate assistance. The airline should provide you with the corresponding care in the event of a long delay or flight cancellation. This may include the following:

The airline should provide you with the corresponding care in the event of a long delay or flight cancellation. This may include the following

  • Meals and drinks
  • Two different occasions in which you are allowed to establish communication with an individual of your choice (calls, emails, etc.)
  • Hotel accommodations if necessary (one or more nights) and transport from the airport to the hotel

If you do not receive this kind of assistance and you are obliged to incur extra expenses, you have the right to be reimbursed. So remember to keep your itemised invoices and receipts. Your request for reimbursement may also be attached to the claim for compensation.

When can I claim compensation for a delayed flight in the US?

Unfortunately, the United States of America does not have a similar body of legislation that protects air passenger rights as the ones in place in Europe. There is a silver lining, however! If you were flying to the US from Europe, your flight is covered by the regulations. This means that, regardless of the airline, if your flight departed from inside the EU and you’ve reached your final destination (connecting flights included!) with a delay of more than 3 hours then you have the right to claim compensation.

Conversely, when flying from the US to Europe, you can claim for compensation if your flight arriving in Europe was operated by a European carrier. Not optimal, we know, but at least some flight are covered. The total amount in compensation that you may be owed might ascend up to €600! So don’t sleep on it, claim your compensation and enforce your rights.

If you don’t know how to proceed, we’re here to help you. We can take care of the whole process and fact-check the airline, as they normally try to avoid paying their passengers. We work under a no win, no fee principle, that means that we’ll only charge our 25% win-fee if we successfully claim the compensation you’re owed. Best of all, our fee covers all possible legal costs if we have to sue the airline in order to claim what’s yours. No additional charges or administrative fees. First things first however, check your flight for free and find out if you’re entitled to compensation, later you can decide to submit your claim with Flight-Delayed and receive what’s yours.

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