How do I get compensation for delayed or cancelled flights? Know your rights

Having a flight delayed or cancelled is inconvenient and can leave you stranded at the airport, but do you know your rights to receiving compensation and how much you could get?

cancelled flights

Are you entitled to compensation?

When I am entitled to compensation for a delayed or cancelled flight?

If you’re travelling from the EU then you’re entitled to compensation for delays of more than three hours or cancelled flights. This also applies if you fly from a non-EU country with a European airline to an EU country.

It’s currently under EU law (EU Regulation 261/2004), but it is subject to change after Brexit is complete in 2019.

For any delays or cancellations to or from destinations outside the EU, or returning with non-EU airlines to the UK, any claims for compensation will be subject to the used airline’s T&Cs, so you will have to get in touch will them directly.

How much compensation am I entitled to?

If your flight is delayed for more than two hours, the airline has to provide you with free food and drink, the cost of any phone calls/emails and if you’re stranded overnight, accommodation as well.

However, only reasonable expenses will be covered, so you won’t be able to hit the airport bar for a few beers.

Compensation for delays

Flight distance How late arriving Entitlement
Up to 1,500km (932 miles) More than 3 hours €250
Any flight within the EU over 1,500km (932 miles) or any other flight between 1,500km-3,500 km (2,175 miles) More than 3 hours €400
More than 3,500km (2,175 miles) Between 3-4 hours €300
More than 3,500km (2,175 miles) More than 4 hours €600

What are the exceptions for claiming compensation?

If the reason for a flight delay is the airline’s fault, you should get compensation, however if your flight is delayed due to a storm or strike, you won’t be entitled to a flight delay claim – even if the flight is delayed by more than five hours. However, you are not obliged to commit to a flight that has had over a five hour delay and you’ll still be entitled to a full refund, food and drink etc.

You should check with your travel insurance if your flight is delayed as you may be able to claim compensation through them, if delays and cancellations are covered.

How long do I have to claim compensation?

The time allowed to claim compensation by the stature of limitations if the claim goes to court is no more than six years in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (five years in Scotland). Any longer than six years and your claim may be refused, so it’s best to claim for flight delay compensation as soon as possible.

How do I claim compensation?

If you need to claim compensation, the most effective way is to do so straight away at the airport, especially if you need a replacement flight or are delayed overnight. If the airline won’t pay up there and then, make sure you keep hold of all your receipts so that you can make a claim on return.

For a formal claim, contact the airline’s customer services by email or phone, including all the relevant information such as flight details etc.

If you need helping writing a formal claim letter, use this handy tool by Which?

The Civil Aviation Authority can help you if you didn’t receive compensation that you feel you are entitled to, or if you feel the airline is being unhelpful.

What if you book a seat through one airline and actually fly with another (also known as a codeshare flight) – can you still claim?

If you booked with one airline and actually fly with another – known as codeshare, an agreement between two airlines – then you are still entitled for compensation for delayed flights if you’re departing from an EU airport or the operated flight is an EU carrier.

What happens if I get ‘bumped’ from my flight?

Most airlines overbook flights by around 5%, which helps them make more money from each service. However, this can lead to be passengers being refused a seat to fly – or being ‘bumped’ as it is known.

What if my flight is cancelled?

Flight cancelled altogether? You’re entitled to claim a full refund or a replacement flight so you can reach you destination.

Depending on whether you’re delayed by a replacement flight or whether you have onward flights or travels plans which are affected by the delay, you may be able to claim further compensation.

If your flight was cancelled less than seven days before departure:

Flight distance Departure and arrival times Compensation
Less than 1,500km Departure – at least one hour earlier than booked flightArrival – up to two hours later than booked flight €125
Arrival – at least two hours later than booked flight €250
1,500km to 3,500km Departure – at least one hour earlier than booked flightArrival – up to three hours later than booked flight €200
Arrival – at least three hours later than booked flight €400
More than 3,500km Departure – at least one hour earlier than booked flightArrival – up to four hours later than booked flight €300
Arrival – at least four hours later than booked flight €600

 

If your flight was cancelled between seven and 14 days before departure: 
Flight distance Departure and arrival times Compensation
Less than 1,500km Departure – from two or more hours earlier than booked flightArrival – up to two hours later than booked flight €125
Departure – from two or more hours earlier than booked flightArrival – two or more hours later than booked flight €250
Arrival – four or more hours later than booked flight €250
1,500km to 3,500km Departure – from two of more hours earlier than booked flightArrival – up to three hours later than booked flight €200
Departure – from two or more hours earlier than booked flightArrival – three to four hours later than booked flight €400
Arrival – four or more hours later than booked flight €400
More than 3,500km Departure – from two or more hours earlier than booked flightArrival – up to four hours later than booked flight €300
Arrival – four or more hours later than booked flight €600

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1 comment for “How do I get compensation for delayed or cancelled flights? Know your rights

  1. John
    04/06/2017 at 8:54 am

    What about where the flight is cancelled way before.?
    We booked with Delta on a Virgin Atlantic codeshare.. This was our annual holiday to Florida.
    We had a Virgin flight from Manchester to Atlanta,then Delta down to Florida and return.
    We had a car booked for 14 days(through virgin) ,a rental villa booked and paid for,and plans to meet up with friends who live in Florida.
    Four months before the flight we had a message from Delta saying there was a change to our itinerary and when looke they had us leaving Florida on the Thursday as planned but getting back to Manchester on Saturday not Friday as planned.
    I rang Delta and they told me virgin had cancelled the Atlanta/Manchester flight,but couldn’t tell me why.
    (Virgin wouldn’t tell me why)
    Delta’s customer service were excellent and sorted out flights for the next day, BUT, the house we were staying in was booked so we couldn’t stay there meaning we had to book a hotel for a night. We refused to stay in some fleabag motel,so we booked a nice hotel on the beach. I had to ring virgin who had the nerve to charge me another £75 for one extra day’s car hire. Despite the fourteen days only being £600.
    So all in all Virgins cancellation cost me around £300 and I’m not entitled to any form of compensation?
    They did offer a full refund when I found out about the cancellation, so I’m supposed to cancel our only holiday of the year and take a loss of the house and car rental?
    Virgin Atlantic refuse to even tell me why the flight was cancelled,to this day and have not answered any questions posed on their Facebook page.
    Out all this I must praise Delta’s customer service who usually get very bad press.

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