E261 cancellation – Weather excuse but other airlines on same route unaffected?

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  • SwissExPat

    A question about E261 compensation for those who may have experience in this regard. I have made a few straightforward claims in the past when flights went Tech and were cancelled. I’ve never had a problem claiming.

    My flight last month in Europe was cancelled 24 hours before take off and I was rescheduled on the Operators next flight which was 1 day later.

    I have submitted an E261 claim and the airline has replied (very quickly) denying it and claiming it was a “Weather related” cancellation.

    However, another airline operating the same route on the same day, operated a normal schedule and in fact operated a flight on my route which departed (on-time) 75 minutes after my scheduled departure on the day my flight was cancelled. In fact, they operated 2 flights on the route that day.

    So if I had chosen the other airline initially, I’d have had no delay etc.

    My question is why can weather be an excuse for one airline and not (evidently) for another (same route/same day/same aircraft)?


    Quite easily. When weather is bad the flow of aircraft into airports slows due to increased spacing. Thst means capacity gets cut (usually 24h in advance).

    If you are a based airline you will generally lose more slots than an airline flying two or three slots.

    The choice of which routes to trim is with the airline, but logic suggests they are more likely to cut/merge (eg) 2 out of 6 flights to Amsterdam than their 1 a day to Detroit.

    So you might find (eg) BA cutting flights on London to Zurich whilst Swiss is not affected.


    Thanks SimonS1.

    I can see that this might be what happens but the problem arises when Airlines have the ‘choice’ in what to cut and how the then seek (or not) to ensure that PAX are carried by an “unaffected” airline.

    In my instance, the cancelled airline could have rebooked me on the carrier that was unaffected and I would have gotten to my destination within a reasonable time window (90 minutes later than the original booking). I understand that they generally seek to avoid doing this (expecially when they can accommodate you on one of their services (albeit 24 hours later since this involves cost). The fact that they did not makes me feel that an E261 claim should be honoured but again, it will be a difficult one to pursue.


    Remember under 5(3) of EC261 airlines are required to use “all reasonable measures”. This includes re-routing.

    If there were flights on other airlines that were operating and had seats available then the airline has failed to discharge its responsibility and you have a valid claim.


    I also think you have a valid claim based on the above. Perhaps make another request with this info and inform them if the reply is not positive you’ll give it to one of these claim firms – or perhaps just put in their hands now.


    Without knowing the route it is difficult to say – but on the LON-GVA route with the recent storm both BA and LX had flight cancellations and there were no available seats on either carrier for the same day or the next day for purchase. Carriers might have re-protected people onto their own flights for 24 hours later and kept capacity back for their own operations.

    We seem to be working on the assumption that seats were available on the alternative carrier – this may well not have been the case and given it is a weather situation (not technical) I’m not sure if they have to source seats from other carriers.

    I really don’t think it worth pursuing. The storm had a massive impact over significant parts of Europe and lots of flights were cancelled in advance at request of ATC and then on day itself. So for me I’d let this one go – they are not trying to get one over you and I’d rather have planes operating safely and looking after and caring for passengers rather than worrying about compensation claims in this type of situation.

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