Your rights for flights delayed or cancelled due to the Canary Islands sandstorm

A sandstorm in the Canary Islands has seen thousands of holidaymakers stranded after the weather wreaked havoc on flight schedules.

Hundreds of flights have been delayed, cancelled or grounded across the likes of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

It’s believed that approximately 860 flights were grounded as a result of the sandstorm which came from the Sahara Desert.

Some passengers were forced to stay an extra night at the holiday hotspots, although the Canary Government confirmed that all passengers were being put up overnight in hotels at the time.

But what are your rights if your flight has been affected?

We take a look at what you could be owed if your flight was delayed or cancelled because of the sandstorm…

If your flight is cancelled

As long as your flight is operated by an airline under the EU, you are automatically entitled to one of the following options:

  • A full refund for the cancelled flight
  • An alternative flight to your destination (including at a later date)

  • Your rights to compensation for flights delayed or cancelled because of strikes

If your flight is delayed

If the delay is more than two hours, the airline must provide you with assistance. This includes:

  • A reasonable amount of food and drink (often in the form of vouchers)
  • A way for you to communicate such as a phone call
  • Accommodation if you're delayed overnight
  • Transport to/from accommodation whether this is a hotel or your home.

Sometimes the airline will ask that you pay and they will cover the costs. In this case, make sure you keep receipts for anything that you spend. Spend within reason or they could refuse to pay – for example if you’re splashing out on 5* hotels and bottles of champagne.

  • Satellite images show huge sandstorm engulfing parts of Spain causing travel chaos

  • Gran Canaria sandstorm causes travel chaos with flights cancelled and airports closed

Your rights to compensation

Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to be entitled to compensation. That’s because the airline will likely claim that the sandstorm was an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ aka that the delays and cancellations were outside of its control.

If you had a holiday planned

If you can no longer go on your package holiday, then it’s likely that your holiday provider will offer you a refund, or the option to rebook for a later travel date.

If you no longer want to go, then you can cancel but you may be subject to a fee – you can read more about your rights in our guide to cancelling holidays.

As for those extras?

If the weather has meant that you can’t use a car hire booking or a booked day trip, it’s worth checking your travel insurance policy to see if you’re covered, and getting in touch with your insurance provider as you may be able to get some money back.

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