PRESS RELEASE: The winter of 2015/2016 could face one the most powerful El Niños in recorded history. As a consequence, flight compensation service provider refund.me expects numerous flight cancellations and delays during the winter season and has compiled some information for Brits to take into account in the face of this super El Niño. Given that airlines can evade compensating customers for delays and cancellations caused by severe weather conditions, passengers should take precautions and inform themselves about potential disruptions prior to making travel arrangements.
El Niño is a climate anomaly occurring every two to seven years. As a result of passing trade winds, normal ocean currents undergo changes which, in turn, cause the waters of the eastern Pacific to warm. This warming of the ocean leads to a series of significant natural catastrophes.
Meteorologists have recently elevated the probability of an El Niño from 90 to 95 %, emphasising that the planet faces one of the most powerful El Niños since 1950, one which is expected to gravely impact global weather patterns. Only on two occasions in the recorded past has El Niño reached similar proportions as expected this year – most recently, in 1997.
El Niño’s impact on the UK
As soon as the end of October temperatures below freezing and severe storms are likely to sweep over the United Kingdom. Emergency Services have already been instructed to prepare for a repeat of the devastating winter of 1961/62, when temperatures dropped to 20 degrees below zero.
Heavy snowfall is predicted toward the end of November, falling not only in the North, but spread over the UK and reaching into the South. According to the forecast of meteorologists El Niño will bring weather similar to that experienced in the winter of 2009/2010. At that time severe snowfall wreaked chaos on transportation hubs, such as airports. During the Christmas holiday period, in particular, passengers should ready themselves for lengthy travel times and delays, and even airport closures.
Anyone planning on flying home over the winter holidays should prepare themselves for disruptions. “It is highly recommended to regularly keep abreast of weather conditions preceding a scheduled flight in order to keep the option of falling back on alternative modes of transportation open. In such a case the ticket price will be returned, but passengers will not be eligible for compensation. Extreme weather falls under the category of exceptional circumstances, for which airlines are not held accountable. Even travel cancellation insurance will not cover such a scenario,” explains Eve Büchner, CEO of refund.me.
Over three million British citizens live abroad. That places the UK in pole position in terms of expats living within OECD countries. The winter months, during Christmas and New Year’s in particular, are a time many such expats use holiday leave to visit home. Even in the comparably mild winter of 2014/2015 Brits had to deal with a number of flight delays. In December 2014 alone, 32.4 per cent of flights at London Heathrow were delayed by at least 15 minutes. Passengers in Manchester were even harder hit, where in December of last year, half of all flights experienced delays during landing and take-off. Fewer delays were then recorded toward the beginning of 2015 at London’s airports. However, the weather conditions expected for this winter will likely result in an increase in flight cancellations and delays over the course of several months. Snowfall is predicted to last well into March. This year’s winter will not only bring icy temperatures to the UK, but also persist until spring.
refund.me is a globally operating and award-winning passenger rights service provider that helps airline passengers easily obtain compensation for flight delays, cancellations, missed connections and re-routings. Established in 2012 the start-up aims to ensure that passenger rights are transparent and more easily enforceable on a worldwide scale. Teams of legal experts from 13 countries have thus far enforced compensation claims of passengers from over 140 countries across 5 continents, filing claims against 340 airlines. Thanks to its highly precise and specialised Advanced Business Logic (ABL) technology, claims can be filed directly from the website or by way of an app available for free. In accordance with European Union regulation (EC) 261/2004 this allows refund.me to process and collect claims of up to 600 Euros on behalf of its customers. Starting at 25% (plus VAT) refund.me has the lowest commission in the industry, and charges such only where claims have been successful. In 2014 the Financial Times praised refund.me as a “legal industry pioneer” in its Innovative Lawyers Report. Company headquarters are located in Potsdam, Germany and Palo Alto, CA.