With all this bad weather about at the moment, it’s a worrying time for air travellers. All you want to do is get away from the snow, ice and freezing temperatures to somewhere warm, but you can’t.
Faced with iced-up roads, or heavy snow, you probably can’t even get your car off your drive, let alone drive to the airport to get your flight and, if you do get there, what are your chances of your flight taking off?
What do you do first?
It is a stressful situation, one I had firsthand experience of last week, faced with an airport that was operational and a booked flight, yet unable to get to the airport due to the road to the airport being blocked by snow. I resolved the issue by contacting the airline and rebooking the flight to later in the day, giving the authorities chance to clear the road.
At present, it appears that all the major UK airports are open, however, with the weather problems of this past week there are cancellations and delays, and with the threat of more snow most airports and airlines are advising passengers to check whether their flight is operational before they leave home.
So how do you find out whether your flight is going to operate or not?
Check your airport website, or the website of your airline – some airlines have begun to list details of flights they have cancelled for the current day, or even the next day.
Your airline’s website should have a link to a weather-update page or have a section where you can check the status of your flight.
Your departure airport will also have a list of flight arrivals and departures, so you could check there.
Another possible way to check the flight status – usually if you are on a short or domestic flight – is to check the arrivals section on the website of your destination airport – this isn’t guaranteed to offer any information, but it could be worth checking. You could also try calling your airline, but with all the problems and the number of flights they handle, you could find yourself in a seemingly endless queue to get an answer.
Getting to the airport
Obviously, if you live some distance away from the airport, you may find you need to leave your house the day before, or extremely early in the morning, in order to get to the airport. No matter how far you have to travel, it’s advisable to check the Highways Agency website for details of accidents, road closures etc that may affect your journey, alternatively check the BBC website’s road travel section. And it goes without saying that you need to leave plenty of extra time for your journey to the airport.
What if you can’t get to the airport because of the roads?
If roads are impassable due to the snow, contact your airline before your flight is due to depart, if you get stuck and don’t call them until after your check-in closes you run the risk of losing your flight.
Some airlines are offering the option to rebook flights free of charge, or cancel flights if you cannot travel to the airport. Policies vary from airline to airline, so check with your airline.
How do I contact my airline?
You may be able to obtain your airline’s contact number from their website, or check on their website as some now offer ‘live chat’ or links to cancelling or rescheduling your flights.
Many airport sites have a list of contact numbers for all the airlines that operate from their airport.
If you are trying to get away during the snow, good luck, and remember that ultimately it is you airline that is responsible for your flight, so they are the one to turn to for accurate information on the status of your flight.