Travel Disruption Advice
If your flight is impacted by severe weather or industrial action, one of the things you can do to make your journey easier is try to keep the whole experience as stress free as possible. We have a few tips on how to reduce stress if you are facing disruption to your travelling plans.
The main information contact number for Heathrow Airport is: +44 (0) 844 335 1801.
If you are using a textphone, instead please use: +44 (0) 844 571 7410
- Check flight details with your airline as soon as possible; if your flight is cancelled you may be advised not to travel to the airport. We've listed the contact numbers for the airlines flying in and out of Heathrow here .
- Keep checking for up to date information about the airport by checking their Twitter or by calling your airline directly. You should be able to find all the airline numbers by clicking here. You can also check all flight disruptions on the BBC website.
- Try to stay calm - you're in safe hands, the airlines know what they are doing and if your flight has been delayed or cancelled it is for your own safety!
- If your flight has been cancelled then read our cancellation advice below.
If my flight is cancelled by the airline what am I entitled to?
If your airline cancels your flight the airline must give you the option of rebooking an alternative flight; either as soon as possible, or at a later date. If no flight is suitable you can request a refund.
If my flight is cancelled by the airline and I have to rebook a new flight, will the airline provide compensation for my accommodation and meals while I wait for the new flight?
If your re-booked flight leaves 2 hours after the scheduled flight your airline should provide you with free meals while you wait and accommodation if needed, as well as two free phone calls. The level of compensation will depend on the distance you are travelling and how much later you will arrive from the original flight.
Take a look at our guide below for cancelled flights and the level of compensation you may be entitled to:
If my flight is cancelled and I have to cancel my holiday will my airline pay for the other arrangements I have had to cancel such as my hotel and transfer?
If the flight is cancelled due to reasons out of the airline's control they will not pay for cancellation of your accommodation or cancellation of any other arrangements. However, if you have taken out a comprehensive travel insurance policy when you booked your holiday you should be able to claim back most of the expenses incurred from cancelling the holiday from your travel insurance provider.
What should I do if my flight is cancelled and there are no alternative flights available at the airport?
The airline has a legal obligation to provide you with a flight to your destination as your ticket is a contract with them. If there are no later flights available you should ask the airline to book you a flight from another airport and pay for your transport to that airport. If this is not an option then you should consider alternative modes of transport. For example, if you are trying to get within Europe you could consider hiring a car and driving to your destination. Some car hire providers will let you drive your hired vehicle across Europe and drop it off in your destination country. However, this can sometimes incur a large charge as they have to then bring the car back to the original country.
Another alternative mode of transport would be to take the ferry if you are trying to get to Europe. There are ferry ports located all over the UK travelling to:
- Isle of Man
- Isle of Wight
- Northern France
Alternatively, passengers trying to get to France or Belgium could try and take the Eurostar. The Eurostar is a train which travels from London St Pancreas train station to Paris and Brussels.
However, if you are not travelling within Europe none of these modes of transport would be an option. Therefore if you are travelling internationally and you cannot get a flight with your airline from your airport you should try and get a flight from any airport within the UK.
If there is no alternative available, your airline should provide you with a refund for your flight within seven days.
What compensation does my travel insurance provide if my flight is cancelled?
All travel insurance policies are different and offer different levels of cover. It is best you contact your insurance provider or read the policy wording document on their website to find out how much compensation you are entitled to if your flights are cancelled or delayed.
Delayed Flights Advice
If my flight is delayed by the operating airline what compensation am I entitled to?
If your flight is delayed, you should talk to your airline about the options available to you; however there are several conditions that you must fulfil before being entitled to any kind of compensation. First of all, it must be a flight between an EU airport and another EU airport, or from a non-EU airport to an EU airport as long as it is operated by an EU airline.
Secondly, the reason for the delay must be within the airline's control. The term "extraordinary circumstances" refers to situations such as bad weather, political unrest, security concerns, industrial action, and so on. These reasons are classed as outside of the airline's control and therefore they are not entitled to give any compensation.
Thirdly, the compensation you are entitled to varies greatly dependent on your destination, how long your arrival at your destination was delayed for.
Take a look at our explanation below of compensation in regards to flight delays.
What happens if I am stranded abroad and cannot get back to work, will my employer still pay me?
Your employer is not entitled to pay you if you cannot get to work due to your flights being cancelled or delayed. It is up to your employer how they proceed, they may request you take the time as holiday, take the days as unpaid or request you work remotely from your location if possible. It is best you contact your employer to discuss the options available to you.
Travelling With Children
My flight has been cancelled/delayed and I'm travelling with small children.
Most major airports will have unsupervised play areas that young children can use as well as there being shops to browse and other amusements throughout the terminal. If you are willing to pay to enter an airport lounge then there are often toys, games, and magazines available.
You can't go wrong with the classics, a game of "I spy" requires nothing but a keen eye and can be an excellent way of keeping children amused if you need to spend a minute sorting out your travel arrangements.
Getting To The Airport
I need to get to the airport but there are major transport disruptions.
The effects caused by severe weather conditions are not only likely to impact airport flight schedules but can also cause delays and disruptions throughout the major transport networks across the UK. Striking action can also lead to disruptions which although are usually localised to certain organisations and locations, these can still affect your journey.
Unfortunately, this can and does lead to many passengers having a very stressful time getting to the airport, with some failing to make their flight altogether. The key to avoiding these problems however lays simply in planning your journey effectively.
In situations where there is snow and ice drivers are urged to keep plenty of distance between vehicles and drive slowly to ensure they're always completely in control of their vehicle. Trains may also be travelling at slower speeds than usual. Taking the extra time it will take to reach your destination into consideration when planning your journey will help ensure you make it in plenty of time.
Keeping yourself informed will play a major part in streamlining your journey. Utilise news websites, travel apps, twitter and radio so you're up-to-date with the latest news regarding your method of transportation which should help you avoid any problematic routes.
There can sometimes be cases where it just wont be possible for you to make your flight, for example weather that is so severe that it is unsafe for you to travel. In such circumstances where no one is really at fault you should check your flight's status and speak to your airline as it's more than likely to be affected if the weather conditions are that bad, or alternatively look to your travel insurance for compensation.
Why does snow disrupt the airports so much?
Airports are disrupted due to snow because of the additional processes that need to be undertaken to make sure planes are safe to fly. Roads and runways need to be cleared of snow and ice and planes must be de-iced.
A plane must be completely de-iced before it can take off as any ice on the plane affects the aircraft wings and fuselage which makes the planes more difficult to control. In severe cold temperatures planes must take off as soon as they are de-iced to prevent ice building up again, therefore this causes delays as de-icing cannot be done in advance at the start of the day.
The runways and roads must also be snow and ice free which the airport usually clears. If the airport is inflicted with heavy snow then the airport may have to be closed while the airport is cleared of all snow. Planes cannot take off when there is any snow on the ground.
Larger airports like Heathrow and Gatwick are more impacted by severe weather than smaller airports as they have so many flights that a delay of a few hours causes a huge backlog of flights.