Flight delays: is your flight really late because of the weather?


As the holiday travel season approaches, weather flight delays will become more frequent as winter storms arrive. responsibility to cover the expenses incurred by the passenger.

If the delay results in a missed connection, the cost of airport meals and accommodation is now the responsibility of the traveler. Recently, some airlines have suffered from network outages, leaving planes, passengers and crews displaced across the country, resulting in massive delays and cancellations. These failures are due, in large part, to staff problems caused by the pandemic or to computer software malfunctions. However, some airlines have still attributed at least partial responsibility to the weather, to avoid spending millions of dollars in passenger expenses. So how do you know that a weather delay is really just a weather-caused delay?

On a recent trip from Seattle to Washington, DC, with a scheduled connection in Chicago, I received a text from the airline on my way to the airport stating that the first leg of my flight, from Seattle in Chicago, was leaving 30 minutes late due to the plane leaving Denver late due to a mechanical problem that required repairs. I didn’t think about it, half an hour wasn’t going to give me a headache. I had used the airline’s app and clicked on the ‘follow aircraft to arrival’ option, and they quickly loaded the flight from Denver to Seattle with a description of the mechanical problem they encountered. . I took a screenshot. Why? I’m not really sure. But if you find yourself in this situation, I suggest you do that too. Once my flight finally took off, about an hour and a half late, the pilot made an announcement apologizing for the late departure and explained the mechanical issue that had to be fixed. However, it quickly became clear that I and many of the passengers on my flight were going to miss our connections. I was quite confident that we would be offered overnight accommodation as it was a mechanical delay. I was wrong.

Ideally for the airline, while on our way to Chicago, the reason for our flight delay was changed. The app no ​​longer displayed the mechanical reason, but now showed a delay due to weather conditions in and around Chicago. After disembarking, I headed for the customer service center. I explained to an airline representative that it was impossible for our flight to be late due to the weather. I was quickly told, “That’s what the computer says. Chicago airport management said you are late due to the weather here so I cannot offer you a hotel or meal.

I opened my text messages and showed him the original communication I had received, then opened the screenshot I took showing the delay. She agreed that the information showed a different story. The airline was using the weather around Chicago as a way to avoid paying passenger expenses for most, if not all, of flights arriving late that night. However, the representative asked me to contact the airline with the information I provided and a copy of my expense receipts and request a refund. Although airport management coded the delay as weather, the company may not agree.


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