Winter is upon us, and with cold weather comes plane grounding storms.
Such is the case this weekend in the US, with a winter storm Diago plunging 500,000 into darkness and causing airlines to ground over 1,400 flights. Some airlines like Delta, are well prepared and have actually asked their crew to bunker down in the planes.
“We’re preparing for days of impact, not hours, this weekend isn’t the time to head out to see the winter wonderland. Stay safe where you are. Getting out on dangerous roads could put your life at risk.” – North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper
Winter storm Diago
The storm first reared its ugly head outside of San Diago, raining extensively, causing flash flooding and mudslides.
The storm then gained traction over the mountains before dumping snow across the south. North Carolina (a typically warmer state in America’s south) got the bulk of snow and had to cancel many flights out of their state capital airport, Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
This airport is the 2nd largest hub for American Airways, who had to cancel 250 flights on Saturday and a huge 1,100 on Sunday.
The cancellations have had knock-on effects to connecting services, with 2,832 delayed and 358 canceled flights across the USA, according to FlightStats.com Saturday night.
One person has unfortunately been killed by the storm when a tree fell on their car.
What to do if your flight is canceled due to a winter storm?
We have put together a quick guide on what to do if you suspect your flight might be canceled.
- First, don’t head to the airport until you know. You don’t want to be caught in the storm outside, on dangerous/icy roads or trapped in an airport. Especially if there are power problems and a lack of food supplies.
- Be sure to check both google flights (with your flight number) and your carrier’s website. I have personally found that sometimes google knows before your airline makes an announcement. Ultimately only the airport will be able to confirm it 100% until you are emailed/texted by the airline themselves.
- If your flight is delayed by only an hour, just be sure to watch it to see if its time keeps getting extended. If it keeps getting pushed back then its likely that it will be canceled. However, again the only proof will be if your airline contacts you directly.
- If your flight is canceled (not just delayed) you will be told that a new flight can be provided once the storm is over. It is unknown how long this could be, but an airline is required to provide you with further travel arrangements. However, they may also offer to set you up in a hotel but during a big storm, they might just suggest that you bunker down in the airport (Especially cheaper airlines will hesitate to do so).
Am I entitled to a refund?
Now, this is a little bit tricky, most airlines will say that a snowstorm is an act of god and thus outside of their control (and they would be right). Thus they do not need to offer you a refund. Keep this in mind if you choose to fly with someone else, or if your flight is canceled from an earlier storm.
But for some airlines, it may be in their best interest to you offer you a refund. This is perfect for them as they can give your next seat up to another passenger and they haven’t really lost anything.
This winter be safe!