When you set off on holiday you hope that everything will run smoothly, but occasionally things can go wrong that you didn’t see coming. If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you could be entitled to compensation that will help make up for the disruption of your trip. Here’s everything you need to know about claiming flight compensation, to ensure you don’t end up out of pocket.
EU law states that if you’re flying from Europe or with a European airline, you have rights to compensation if your flight is delayed or cancelled. This law applies to flights departing from the UK, the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
If your flight is delayed for 2 or more hours, your airline must give you food and drink, access to phone calls and emails, and accommodation if you’re delayed overnight, including transport between the airport and hotel.
If your flight is delayed for 3 or more hours, you get all of the above and are entitled to compensation if the delay is the airline’s fault, for example a technical issue. If the delay is due to external factors, for example bad weather or a strike, you will not be able to claim compensation.
If your flight is delayed for 5 or more hours, you have all the same rights as above – you can claim compensation, but only if the delay is the airline’s responsibility. However you also have the option to not get on the flight at all, no matter whose responsibility the delay is. If you choose not to take the flight, the airline must give you a full refund for the flight and any other flights from that airline you won’t use as a result (e.g. return or connecting flight), and a flight back to your original airport if you’re part-way through a journey.
If a connecting flight has been booked with the same airline and you are covered by EU law, you may be entitled to compensation if the delay is the airline’s fault. However if you have booked a connecting flight with a different airline, you will not easily be able to get compensation for the second flight.
Your compensation entitlement is subject to several factors – the duration of the delay, the flight distance, and whether you’re flying to an EU or non-EU destination.
If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to either a full refund, including flights from the same airline that you won’t be able to use as a result of the cancellation (such as connecting or return flights), or a replacement flight to reach your destination.
If you believe you are entitled to compensation for a delayed or cancelled, flight, contact the airline directly, providing all the details of your flight booking and stating what went wrong. Most airlines will have a standard procedure to follow, and some maybe even provide a claim form for you to fill in. If you’re claiming for additional expenses such as food and drink, you’ll have to provide copies of receipts.
If you are flying from outside the EU on a non-EU airline, EU regulations do not apply and your rights will depend on the terms of your contract with the airline. Most airlines base their terms and conditions on those recommended by the International Air Transport Association, which means they will have a contractual obligation to offer you a choice between a later flight, alternative transportation or a refund.