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I am visiting a foreign country and got stranded due to a natural disaster closing the departing airport. My flight would be from A->B->C, with A and B being located in the foreign country I'm currently in, and C my final destination in my home country. I came with a return ticket to the country I am currently visiting.

Due to a natural disaster, airport A has been closed for an undetermined amount of time. Airport B is operating normally, and my second leg B->C should not be affected by airport A's closing. There are other Airports in cities around A that have flights to B operating normally. So far, my airline hasn't communicated with me in any way, and I am afraid they might wait until the last minute to do so giving me something non-negotiable.

My question is: Is this my problem (meaning I have to reorganize the trip myself, incurring any extra cost of rescheduling my flights) or is it the airline's responsibility to give me a possibility to leave the country?

How negotiable is this situation (e.g could I argue to not receive a flight starting from a destination D that is way too far for me to drive to)?

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    Call the airline and ask. Most airlines try to make alternative arrangements, but in the case of a serious disaster it may take time, and you may have to accept whatever flight is available or wait even longer. Commented May 6 at 18:41
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    Are all the flights on one ticket (one PNR)?
    – Traveller
    Commented May 6 at 19:21
  • Given that an airline's responsibility (if any) could be determined by the applicable law to this occurrence (law at the airlines's main business location? Law in the country A, and/or country B, and/or country C?...and we don't know what those countries are), this question is unanswerable. Commented May 6 at 19:58
  • Yes, the rules can vary a lot depending on the various countries involved (origin, destination, and country of the airline). In the EU and other countries covered by EC261 or its copies, you would benefit (in theory, at least) from pretty strong protection, while in other places it can be next to nothing in the general case, and even worse when "extraordinary circumstances" hit. They will usually try to work with you (because bad press is bad), but if you can be proactive and come up with your own alternative, that usually helps a lot. Do they have flights from those other airports?
    – jcaron
    Commented May 6 at 22:34
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    You might also want to let your consulate/embassay know.
    – gerrit
    Commented May 7 at 8:35

1 Answer 1

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This depends A LOT on the details: which airline, which countries (and associated local laws), fare class, status, time of booking/cancellation, how you did book it (directly, OTA, package), date of flight etc.

First: check whether the flight is still active and what status your booking is in. If the airport is closed for an "undetermined" amount of time the airline may try to wait it out hoping that the airport reopens before the flight. This may be a case of "cancellation chicken": the airline is betting on you getting nervous enough to cancel on your own to make alternative arrangements, in which case they are off the hook. That was a popular airline scare tactic during Covid to avoid paying refunds. You may also find that your flight has already been rebooked. If that's the case, you can look at the new itinerary and see of you like it (see bullet 2)

Second: Look for alternatives yourself and decide what's acceptable to you. Flying from a nearby airport (including or excluding transportation to that airport), cancel for a refund (and book your own), fly with a different airline from a different airport etc.

Third: Call the airline. The exact thing to ask depends on what you found out in the first step. If the flight is still on and your booking is still active, than you probably have to wait it out until they officially cancel the flight. You can ask for alternatives, but chances are they will refuse. If your flight has already been cancelled you can ask for anything that you have identified in step 2. If your booking is in limbo ( booking is still active but unflyable) then you need to ask them to fix the status.

How negotiable is this situation

This also depends, but in general there is a good amount of leeway. Most decent airlines will make good faith approach to get you from A to C. Partially this will depend on how you booked the ticket. If you booked directly with the airline, this should be fairly easy. If you booked with a 3rd party you may be in a world of hurt since the airline can direct you to the booking agent and vice versa. That's why you should ALWAYS book with the airline directly.

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  • Your last statement to always book with the airline is questionable. If the OP booked with any knowledgeable travel agent, the travel agency can likely fix the problem better/faster/ than most airlines provided the trip has not started; after all, the TA will (likely) have access to schedules and alternate routings. If booked through a website then agreed the OP is up the creek with a very small paddle. Commented May 12 at 0:28
  • @ZeroTheHero. Your mileage may vary. Most people these days book with online travel agencies which is a really bad idea (unless you really know what you are doing). Good travel agents are a rare breed indeed. For some of my employers I was required to use large corporate travel agencies. These were definitely NOT knowledgeable and a huge pain in the neck. I often violated policy and went around these idiots. I got yelled at a few times but whenever I showed the powers at be how much money I had saved by doing so, they backed off.
    – Hilmar
    Commented May 13 at 2:15

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