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Flight delayed or cancelled due to fog — are passengers entitled to compensation?

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Every year, poor visibility and thick fog cause flights to be delayed or cancelled worldwide. Fog affects airport operations by hindering communication and requiring additional protocols to ensure the safety of passengers and air travel operations.

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Flight delays or cancellations because of fog — how often does this happen?

In places like Canada and certain parts of Europe, fog is a much more common phenomenon that affects airports, especially during the winter in Northern Europe.

Airports under fog must restrict the number of takeoffs and landings each hour. As a result, there is a line-up of aircraft at the gates, while other aircraft are flying in holding patterns while they wait to land.

Flight crew members monitor the weather at the destination, so if the information at hand suggests that the flight will be met with foggy conditions, ideally there is time to prepare. If there are bad weather conditions at the destination airport, planes may be redirected to another airport for landing as the last option.

This is what happened at Eindhoven Airport on November 29th, 2022. As a result of poor visibility caused by severe fog, many passengers faced a delay due to air traffic being halted until 11:00, and a few arriving planes had to be diverted to Maastricht Airport and Weeze Airport; two other airports that are also frequently used by the Dutch among others. The affected passengers who landed at a different airport will be provided transportation to Eindhoven Airport. Thankfully, the weather cleared up after a couple of hours, and the airport’s operations continued as usual. As the fog caused a domino effect of delays across Europe flights at Schiphol Airport were also slightly affected by the weather conditions, but less so.

Delayed or cancelled flight because of the fog: am I entitled to flight compensation?

Unfortunately, if fog is the reason for your flight delay or cancellation, you are not entitled to compensation. Fog falls under the category of extraordinary circumstances — situations in which the airline is not responsible for the disruption and is thus legitimately able to refuse compensation requests from affected passengers. The following list has more examples of such circumstances:

  • Bad weather conditions, such as thick fog, heavy rain, or thunderstorms.

  • A strike, most often specifically within the aviation industry (for example, a strike of air traffic control workers at a specific airport).

    However, a strike of the airline's crew is not considered an extraordinary circumstance!

  • Political circumstances, such as a terrorist attack or general security risk due to political unrest.

  • Natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions and hurricanes.

  • A collision between the aircraft and birds or other foreign objects.

  • An ill or unruly passenger.

  • Flight delays caused by the airport staff, such as extraordinarily long queues to security checks.

There is still good news! You have the right to care while your flight is delayed due to fog. For instance, if there is a two-hour delay in your flight, the airline legally has to provide you with food and drink, which is usually given in the form of vouchers. If no vouchers or meals are offered, you can buy them on your own and file a claim for the amount with the airline. You are also entitled to a hotel room or another type of lodging if your delay necessitates spending the night. It is also possible to claim back additional expenses from the airline, such as parking fees or cab fare.

What do I do if the airline falsely claims extraordinary circumstances?

In general, reduced visibility can make it very challenging for airports and flights to function at their regular pace. Due to the high risk, strict regulations are in place, which significantly slows down traffic. Although situations like these affect many passengers and hinder their travel plans, the disruptions ensure everyone’s safety and guarantee that pilots can see what is happening. We recommend checking the status of your flight before leaving for the airport every time to avoid running into any last-minute problems.

Was your flight delayed because the airline stated it was because of the fog, but you didn’t notice any at your departure or arrival airport? Don’t be duped by the airline that might be trying to get out of compensating passengers even though they are legally required to.

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