Airlines often use “force majeure” as an excuse for delayed and cancelled flights. But what is force majeure?
Force majeure means "great strength", and it is usually interpreted as an event that cannot be controlled.
Unusual weather conditions, natural disasters, war, terror and dangerous outbreaks of disease, are all considered as event of force majeure.
Airlines and travel agencies are usually not held accountable for flights that are cancelled or delayed due to force majeure.
You are entitled to a full ticket refund, if your flight is cancelled due to force majeure. But you are not entitled to financial compensation. The airline company must provide you with food and beverages, if you have to wait a longer period of time for a new flight at the airport.
The airline must also provide you with accommodation, if you have to spend the night waiting or a new flight. The airline must also provide you with transportation, if you have to travel from one airport to another (when your departure point changes).
The airline must provide you with food, drink and accommodation, if your flight is cancelled due to force majeure. But some airlines refuse to offer this service upfront. Sometimes they simply ask you to save all your receipts and other documentation, so they can refund you afterwards.
In cases such as these, we highly recommend that you keep your costs at a reasonable level - if you do not wish to pay for an expensive stay at a hotel yourself. The EU Regulation 261/2004 explicitly states that airlines must refund all reasonable costs. This does NOT mean that airlines are obliged to refund stays at 5-star hotels or visits to fancy restaurants.
Airlines cannot cancel a flight and refer to "force majeure" at any unexpected event. They must prove that there were in fact unusual circumstances that could not be avoided, even if all reasonable actions were actually taken.
Passengers may be entitled to compensation under the EU Regulation, if the airline company falsely cancels a flight due to force majeure.
Every year, we encounter airlines that use force majeure as an excuse to avoid paying compensation.
Fell free to contact Flycancel and let us review your case, if you are in doubt about your rights.