Can You Get Your Trip Refunded If You Experience Bad Weather?

Ah, summer vacation! Those two words conjure up images of relaxing by the pool, swimming in the sea, enjoying plenty of good food, and getting a bit tipsy on a few cheeky cocktails in the afternoon. One thing that travelers could always take for granted in the past was the weather during the hot months; unless you were holidaying in rainy Britain, you could normally bank on plenty of sun and blue skies.

Unfortunately, one of the effects of climate change is that our weather is becoming more unpredictable, which means planning a vacation around it isn't as straightforward as it once was. Sunseekers now have to consider bigger and more frequent storms in popular summer hotspots like the Caribbean while extreme temperatures across Europe are causing devastating wildfires in holiday havens like Portugal and the Greek islands. Vacation-wrecking conditions aren't just restricted to the summer months, as unseasonably warm weather in ski resorts can leave skiers without any snow.

It is a situation that is only likely to get worse in the foreseeable future, and it's understandable that people who have saved up for a vacation should ask if they can get a refund if a trip is hit by bad conditions. The good news is that depending on the situation, there are some solutions that could enable you to recover at least some of your money. Check out these options if your well-earned break falls foul of Mother Nature.

Ask your airline about weather waivers

Sometimes the weather forecast provides warning that your dream vacation is in danger from the elements, like in 2017 when Hurricane Irma ripped through the Caribbean islands causing catastrophic destruction. If you see stormy weather heading to your holiday spot, it is worth calling your airline to ask about weather waivers. In some cases, they will offer to change the date for no extra fee, although there are often time limits for alterations. Even without a waiver, you might be able to talk your representative into rescheduling your flight or persuade them to change your itinerary to another destination.

Things get a bit trickier if you're already on the move and find out about the unfolding situation at the airport or during a layover. This can leave you facing an unpleasant stay or cancellation of flights. In that case, getting straight to the customer service desk for your airline is advisable. While it is unlikely that you'll get a refund for your flight day-of, you may be able to arrange an alternative route or at least get the money back from your hotel reservation.

In the wake of the recent wildfires in Greece, many British holidaymakers have asked what they are entitled to if their vacation is curtailed by disastrous events. While travel companies in the U.K. generally aren't responsible for factors out of their control, customers may still receive a proportional refund if their stay is cut short by natural disasters.

Read the small print and file a claim

To safeguard against weather-related calamities, it's a good idea to scour the terms and conditions of your travel plans before purchasing. The small print often varies depending on the carrier and destination, so doing your homework will help identify the possibility of getting your money back if or when disaster strikes.

Another way to mitigate potential losses is buying cheap flights in coach and booking through a travel advisor. Many travel companies now try to avoid PR issues by warning their customers about impending difficulties, and an advisor can use their inside knowledge to help rearrange your plans.

If you're unable to make changes or cancel your trip in advance, it might boil down to filing an insurance claim. Check the terms and conditions to make sure you have a policy that covers natural disasters, which might come with a higher premium in the first place. Certain policies may not cover the full amount of your vacation, but it is better than losing out completely. Some key figures in the travel industry also recommend booking with a credit card which may also offer some protection for disrupted vacation arrangements. 

In a worst-case scenario, if you are having difficulty obtaining your entitled refund from an airline, you can lodge a complaint with the Department of Transportation which will oblige the carrier to deal with your request within 60 days.