What Should you do if your Flight is Canceled Because of Weather?

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The weather can cause a lot of unexpected and often unwelcome chaos in our lives. For example, maybe your home is affected by a natural disaster, or perhaps you walk outside one morning to find a tree has fallen on your car.

In these cases, while it might not be ideal, at least, you can potentially rely on insurance to cover some of the costs of the damages.

What about flights, though? With the increasing costs associated with airline travel, flights can be a big investment, and yet they’re delayed and canceled all the time.

If you’re following the news right now, you know many places around the country are experiencing severe winter weather, such as Colorado where a lot of people have been trapped on their new year’s ski vacations. In Utah, winter storms have caused transportation nightmares as well, and winter is only really getting started.

It may have you thinking about what you can and should do if you have a flight delayed or canceled due to weather, and the following are some tips.

Get In Touch with Your Airline Immediately

Before you even deal with a canceled flight, if it’s still an option but you know bad weather could be headed toward the airport you’re departing from, contact customer service. They can help you with rebooking and you may have a better chance of getting your itinerary changed.

Whether your flight has already been canceled or not, it’s good to be proactive and start looking for your own alternatives.

When the weather is bad, people who handle reservations are going to be swamped, and you’re more likely to get what you want if you have options you can tell the agents.

What’s tough about a cancellation due to weather is that it’s considered something outside of the carrier’s control, so you’re not going to get accommodations or compensation from the airline. This doesn’t mean you’re completely helpless, though.

Changing Your Ticket

Depending on the rules of your airline, when bad weather cancels your flight, you may be able to change your ticket and rebook without paying change fees. You may also be able to use the full value of your ticket and put it toward purchasing a different flight.

An airline may offer a partial refund depending on the situation, but they might not have to.

The Next Flight app may be something good to download on your phone if you think your flight could be affected by weather.

The app lets you search for other airlines or flights if you’re facing a cancellation.

Think About Leaving From Another Airport

Sometimes if the situation is really tricky, you may need to change the city you’re departing from. You might for example drive from Newark to Philadelphia. Yes, you have to drive, but your chances of actually getting a flight might be much better.


You’re more than likely not going to get compensation for a flight delayed due to weather. Even in the European Union, where there are much stricter laws dictating how airlines compensate passengers when it comes to weather the options are pretty limited.

Compensation in the U.S. is provided in situations where there’s overbooking and baggage issues. There may also be compensation for delayed and canceled flights, but usually, it’s because of something more in the control of the airline.

What About Tarmac Delays?

What happens if your flight is delayed while you’re already on the plane?

This is another situation where you probably wouldn’t be compensated, at least not on a domestic flight. However, the Department of Transportation does prohibit airlines from remaining on the tarmac for more than three hours unless there is a safety or security risk or air traffic control says there would be significant disruptions to operations.

While you might not get direct compensation for tarmac delays, U.S. airlines are required to provide food and water on flights no later than two hours after the start of such a delay.

If you do have a flight canceled due to weather, it can feel pretty hopeless, but you still can try and work with a third-party service that gets people refunds for their flights. They may be able to get at least some compensation for you, but it’s not required.

Weather cancellations are tough, and the best thing you can do is keep an eye on the weather and contact your airline before you head to the airport if you anticipate the weather could be an issue.