Heavy snow is forecast for the UK and there’s every chance that some domestic and international flights will be delayed. Here are a few recommendations to keep inconvenience to a minimum, whether you are travelling now or for planning your trip in the future.
If you are travelling in the next few days, check for regular updates online with your airline and with the airport concerned. Read all of the advice carefully. In some cases you may still need to go to the airport and register with airline even if your flight is showing as cancelled (for example they may be able to arrange for you to fly with a different airline at short notice).
The airlines have certain responsibilities and subject to the length of journey and length of delay they may have to offer you food/drink and in some cases overnight accommodation. They will do all they can to get you to your chosen destination, it is their preferred outcome, however some things will be beyond their control so try and be understanding of the situation. During times of disruption their resources will be stretched; you’ll need to be patient but perhaps also a little persistent to ensure you are kept informed of any developments and are being provided with any support needed
The Civil Aviation Authority have issued guidelines for passengers who are delayed. These are applicable for flights from or within the European Union. For more information visit the CAA website here. Similar information may also be included within the small print of your booking.
Check your travel insurance. There should be cover for cancellation. However, in most cases the insurance company will need written confirmation from the airline that the disruption occurred and it will be your responsibility to request this document from the carrier.
Leave extra time to get to the airport – it is better to get to the airport super early than risk missing your flight. In the case of early morning departures it may be better to travel to the airport the night before and stay in a cheap hotel close to the airport.
If your plans include a domestic flight to get you to the international airport make sure that you leave plenty of time for the transfer. There are two potential scenarios:
- If you book the domestic trip with the same airline you use for the international flights then you should be able to check in for the whole trip at the first airport. Your bags will be automatically transferred and you’ll be given boarding cards and seats for the whole trip. If the domestic flight is delayed the airline will do all they can to help you get to your final destination.
- If you book a budget flight or independent flight to get to the international airport this booking may be considered as a separate trip. You may need to collect your bags after the first flight and then check-in again for the international journey. You’ll need to allow time to get your bags and possibly travel to another terminal before you check-in for the next leg of your trip. If the first part of the trip is delayed, neither airline will want to accept responsibility leaving you in a difficult situation. In this case, always allow plenty of time to accommodate domestic travel delays and the additional check-in process. Consider travelling the day before the international flight to avoid issues.
- Domestic and international baggage restrictions can be different (international flights generally allow you to have heavier bags). Make sure you know the limits. If you go over, you can expect the airline to charge you for the extra weight/bags and the additional costs can be high.
On the whole the baggage systems are efficient and lost bags occur infrequently. However, the more flights you have the more chance there is of losing bags. The systems can be tested in cases of delay and disruption where tagged bags need to be loaded on to different flights. Mark your bags clearly with your final destination and where possible provide contact details. If your journey comprises of several flights, pack some essentials in your hand luggage just in case you get separated from your bags. If your arrive at your destination and your bags don’t come off the carousel, report it to the airline and ask for a property irregularity report (PIR). The insurance company will need this to settle any claim.