Gatwick travel chaos: What are consumers entitled to?

Tens of thousands of passengers have been suffering travel chaos after drones were flown around Gatwick Airport.

Here is a look at what help customers could be entitled to:

– Will those affected be entitled to compensation?

Consumer rights experts say that despite the frustration for those who have suffered disruption, these are “extraordinary circumstances”.

Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “This situation will understandably be frustrating for both the airlines and the tens of thousands of passengers travelling to and from Gatwick ahead of Christmas.

“Whilst these extraordinary circumstances unfortunately mean you are not entitled to compensation, you may still be entitled to meals, refreshments, hotel accommodation or transfers.

“You don’t have to cancel your tickets though, as depending on the length of the delay, your airline should be providing you with alternative travel options or accommodation.”

– What are extraordinary circumstances?

Compensation for delayed or cancelled flights hinges on the reason for the delay and the length of notice passengers are given. Which? says that in cases where the airline can prove the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances, no compensation is payable.

Extraordinary circumstances are situations out of the airline’s control, for example, a security risk, political instability or severe weather that makes flying dangerous.

– What support can people get?

Which? says that if someone’s flight is delayed for at least two hours, depending on the length of the flight, their airline may give them two free phone calls, faxes or emails; free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay; and free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required.

If a flight was delayed for more than five hours they may be able to choose between being rerouted on a different flight or getting a refund – just as if the flight had been cancelled.

– How can insurers help?

Martyn James, spokesman for consumer help website Resolver.co.uk, suggests that as well as speaking to the airline, “you can also speak to your travel insurer to see if you have any options in your insurance policy”.

Giving general advice, the Association of British Insurers said people should speak to their airline or travel company first.

A spokesman said: “For additional travel disruption costs, such as missed hotel bookings or already paid for activities that you can no longer make, you should speak to your travel insurer as these may be covered under the terms of your travel insurance, depending on the type of cover you have bought.”

Insurer Axa says if customers need to change the dates of their trip they should make contact to update their policy.

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