Cancellations or delays in your flight can leave you frustrated, stranded or late for your holiday. Whilst in some respects, nothing can help with these feelings, there is at least the potential for compensation, from the airline.
When you can get compensation
When you travel from the EU, there is an entitlement to compensation for cancelled flights or delayed flights over 3 hours. This applies also to flying from a non-EU country with a European airline, to an EU country.
The above is applicable under EU law - so clearly for the UK, this may all change after 2019, but for the moment it does apply.
For destinations which do not fall into the above, so essentially flying to and from areas outside of the EU, or use of a non-EU airline, claims for flight delays will fall under the terms and conditions of the airline.
The amount you are entitled to
With delays which last for two hours or more, the airline has to provide you with free food and drink, and the cost of phone calls and emails. Accommodation will be provided for any overnight delays.
The amount, in terms of financial compensation, available varies depending on the delay time, in terms of your arrival time. The length of your flight, alongside the aforementioned EU or non-EU status of the airport, will also affect the amount of compensation available.
Delay to the arrival of 3-hours or more
- Flight distance - less than 1,500km - compensation of €250
- Between 1,500km and 3,500km - €400
- More than 1,500km and within the EU - €400
Delay of 3-4 hours
- Flight distance - more than 3,500km, between an EU & non-EU airport - €300
Delay of 4-hours or more
- Flight distance - more than 3,500km, between an EU & non-EU airport - €600
Note the exceptions
Compensation only applies if the flight delay is the airline's fault, so it will not apply to all situations. For example, flights grounded due to storms would not typically be covered, however, a valid travel insurance policy may cover you, in such a situation - take a look at our Travel Insurance Tips article, for more information.
It would always be advisable to claim for any compensation due to flight delay as soon after the event as possible. Clearly, the sooner you claim, the sooner you will get the money. However, in saying this, past delays are covered by the law, up to a time period of 6 years (with the exception of Scotland, which is 5-years).
A completely cancelled flight enables a claim for a full refund to be applied, or a replacement flight allowing you to reach your end destination. Further expenses may also be applicable and apply based on factors such as the delay to any replacement flight, or connecting flights being potentially missed.
Claiming your compensation
As the first port of call, try at the airport, as the airline will be the ones who can source any replacement flights or arrange accommodation for your overnight delay. As a matter of course, keep hold of any and all receipts. Make formal claims to the airline, by way of written claim including all relevant details of your flight (such as flight codes and times, and a detail of your delay).