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Heathrow flight cancellations: What are passengers’ rights if service is delayed or cancelled by fog?

Heathrow flight cancellations: What are passengers’ rights if service is delayed or cancelled by fog?

British Airways has now cancelled well over 100 flights to and from its main base, London Heathrow, on Monday.

Freezing fog is responsible for slowing the “flow rate” at western Europe’s busiest airport.

Aer Lingus, Air France, Lufthansa, SAS and Swiss have also cancelled flights. More than 15,000 passengers are affected, and that number is likely to increase with knock-on disruption from long delays.

These are your rights if your flight goes wrong.

What am I entitled to?

Accommodation if necessary, meals as appropriate and an onward flight as soon as possible.

Does your flight have to be on the airline that cancelled the flight?

No. Under Article 8 of European air passengers’ rights rules, which are still in effect in the UK, a passenger is entitled to “re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination”.

That can happen “at the earliest opportunity” or “at a later date at the passenger’s convenience, subject to availability of seats”. But most people will want to get on their way immediately.

“Re-routing” is an unhelpful term. If your BA flight from Heathrow to Lisbon has been cancelled, the obvious solution is to be transferred to TAP Portugal which flies exactly the same route.

My flight is delayed and I will miss my connection. What happens?

Ideally if you have not yet taken off, the airline will make other arrangements. For example, if you were flying Glasgow-Heathrow-Mumbai, the cancelling airline can book you on Emirates via Dubai, Air France via Paris or KLM via Amsterdam.

The airline insists I have to wait for one if its flights. Is that correct?

No. The UK Civil Aviation Authority makes it clear that if the cancelling airline can get you to your destination on the same day it need not look at another carrier. But if (say) BA has no available flights, then it must look at alternatives – and pay for them.

The only alternative is easyJet from Gatwick or Ryanair from Stansted. Can I insist on being booked on either?

Yes. If the airline refuses, you should explain that under European air passengers’ rights rules you are entitled to the flight, pay for it yourself (if your credit card can take it) and claim the fare back.

The cancelling airline must pay additionally for “transferring the passenger from that alternative airport either to that for which the booking was made, or…

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