Flights that are canceled or significantly delayed entitle you to a refund (at least a partial one) from the airline. The only caveat is that delays or cancellations due to the weather don’t count. It turns out that there is no formal review of weather incidents and the US Department of Transportation believes the airlines without checking weather conditions. The Consumerist writes that it is possible to dispute these claims, although it will cost money and time.

You know how they say, “Everyone complains about the weather but no one does anything about it?” Well, now you can. If you really feel that an airline’s weather excuse is a lie to get out of paying you your due, consider hiring a forensic meteorologist and including his findings in your correspondence with the company.

The problem is that you’ve got to have a reasonable case – that means checking the weather conditions as you’re stuck at the airport and then doing research to hire the right person. There are better ways to try to get refunds, even for weather delays.

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  • Make Sure That You Have A Legitimate Claim
    • Don’t call the airline if your flight is 30 minutes late. Do your best to wait until you’ve been stuck at the airport for at least 2 hours.
    • During the colder months of the year, if there is any precipitation you won’t have an argument. The potential for ice will negate any weather-related claim you have.
    • Check the TV monitors at the airport. If summer thunderstorms, high winds, or hail is making the national news, you won’t have luck disputing the weather-delays – even if they are not affecting your destination.
  • Explain Your Situation Thoroughly

    • Call the airline, don’t wait in line. Tell them everything about the stress and delays you’ve encountered.
    • If you’ve missed any connecting flights be absolutely sure to tell the airline.
    • Ask to speak to a supervisor if you get an unsympathetic ear.
  • Remember Why You Are Traveling
    • Did you miss a business meeting, lose a day of your honeymoon, or attending a funeral?
    • Are there small children with you?
  • Include Intangibles
    • Medical conditions.
    • Old age.
    • Very short trip (like losing 1 day of a 3 day vacation)
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Don’t restrict yourself to asking for a refund. After being stubborn with the airline, suggest hotel vouchers, frequent flier miles, or offer to take an even later flight to free up room for other stranded passengers in exchange for a free ticket.