If you’ve ever had a flight cancelled, you know what it feels like to have your travel plans interrupted. In the wake of the travel disruption caused by the snow on the last week before Christmas, which has left thousands of people stranded at UK airports and abroad, and with more snow on the way, it’s understandable that people are panicking about upcoming flights and wary of booking anything in the New Year. We thought it would be a good idea to post some advice about what to do if your flight is disrupted, and some tips about travelling in extreme weather to help you keep ahead of Mother Nature.
First and foremost, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE TRAVEL INSURANCE! When you’re planning a trip, or in the run up to your holiday, keep an eye on the weather. UK weather is unpredictable, especially in the winter, so check it as often as you can. If it snows, there are likely to be delays and cancellations – prepare for the worst, and if the worst happens, well, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
For the most accurate weather information, check the Met Office website. For BAA airports, check the BAA official website, and for other airports around the country, check the individual airport’s website. Over on our twitter page we have created a list of all UK airports twitter accounts, this will usually be the first place you can find out vital information about service disruptions.
If it snows heavily enough to cause disruptions, contact your airline to see if your flight is still scheduled. If your flight has been cancelled, don’t go to the airport – the roads will be bad enough without extra unnecessary traffic. If you do head to the airport to catch your flight, allow plenty of time to travel to your departure airport. If the weather is bad, chances are driving conditions will be, too. Remember a vehicle takes up to ten times longer to stop on icy roads.
If you have missed your flight due to traffic delays, continue to the airport and get in touch with the airline about booking onto a different flight. If you miss your flight and there’s no alternative or later flight available, check your insurance as you might be covered by your policy.
If your flight is cancelled
Thinking ahead is vitally important when travelling at this time of year. In extreme situations, such as the cancellation of hundreds of flights and thousands of stranded passengers being stuck at an airport, food will run out and a usually orderly airport can become chaotic. Take food in your carry on luggage, especially if you’re travelling with children. Snacky, non perishable things work best, like cereal bars or crisps. It’s not the most healthy, but they’ll keep you going. Airport regulations mean you can’t take water through the security check point, so take a few pounds so that you can buy some water and keep hydrated.
If the airport closes and all flights are cancelled, you may need to sleep in the terminal. If your cancelled flight was due to take you somewhere warm and sunny, the last thing you’ll want to pack is winter clothes, but a sweater and a blanket can prove to be little miracles in these situations, and again, if you’re travelling with children it’s vital they keep warm.
If there’s a chance your flight will be cancelled, be savvy and book a hotel room nearby just in case. Chain airport hotels such as Hilton and Marriott are usually safe bets. Book a room using a credit card, and only cancel it once you know for certain your flight is going ahead. Make sure you double check with the hotel what their cancellation policy is before you make the reservation.
Last but not least, if things do go wrong, remember that you’re safe and keep a positive outlook. If your holiday plans are scuppered, remember there’s nothing you can blame it on except the weather, and some things are out of anyone’s control.