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Travel Chaos Caused by Volcanic Ash: Your Rights

The volcanic ash cloud over Eyjafjallajökull, IcelandAll flights in the UK have been suspended after a volcano erupted in Iceland and spread ash across the UK, so if you’re scheduled to fly to or from a UK airport today (15 April) you will experience delays or cancellations.

*If you want to know the breaking news on this story as it happens and to share your experiences, take a look at our live blog .*

What you need to know

Flights across airports in the UK have been either delayed or cancelled. The official statement from the National Air Traffic Service confirms that, from midday until at least 6pm today, there will be no flights permitted in UK controlled airspace at all, other than for emergency situations.

At the moment, there is no clear indication about how long the disruption will continue, with forecasters believing the ash could take days to disperse and the National Air Traffic Service adding: “It is very unlikely that the situation over England will improve in the foreseeable future.”

Passengers are being advised not to travel to airports but to instead check with their airline for updates on flight information.

Your rights: Can I get a refund?

If your flight is cancelled: If you are affected and your flight is cancelled at short notice, airlines should offer you a refund on the unused ticket or provide you with an alternative way to travel.

If your flight is delayed: If delays occur for a period of over five hours you can opt not to travel on the delayed flight and instead claim for a refund.

If you are taking a connecting flight: If your flight is cancelled or delayed and you do not wish to continue with your journey then you are entitled to your money back and the airline should also provide you with a free flight back to where you departed from.

How to claim: Get in touch with your airline who will advise the procedur

Can you claim on your insurance policy?

General Rule: Check with your insurer as soon as you can and before you travel to determine exactly what you are covered for in terms of cancellation and delays, as providers will differ.

Freak occurrences: As the spread of volcanic ash is not technically adverse weather, insurers are taking different approaches on how to deal with this. Your first point of contact should be the airline to find out what alternatives are available.

If the insurance policy runs out during the course of the chaos: If you are delayed coming back from your holiday because of this issue then your travel insurance should automatically extend until you land back in the UK.

Pre-arranged excursions: If you are delayed by less than 12 hours then, unfortunately, you won’t be able to claim for any pre-arranged excursions already paid for. If the delay is greater than 24 hours or your trip is cancelled completely, then you should be able to claim for this on your travel insurance policy.

Remember: In order for travel insurance cover to come into effect, you MUST check in at the airport for it to apply.

If you want to know more about consumer rights read the guide to Section 75 and take a read of our ‘know before you go’ travel guide as well as our guide to buying travel insurance.

Keep up to date with our live blog

To get up-to-the-minute updates on how the travel disruption could affect you, and to share your stories, take a look at our live blog.

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Sharon Flaherty

Sharon Flaherty

Sharon Flaherty was editor and head of content at from September 2009 to September 2013. She has contributed to The Financial Times Group, The Times, Daily Express, Guardian and Independent.

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