How to claim compensation for a cancelled or delayed flight

Jenai Laignel / 19 June 2015 ( 10 September 2019 )

Delayed or cancelled flight? Don't despair. While it may be very frustrating at the time, there could be several things you can do to make sure you're not out of pocket.

Flight delays and cancellations are frustrating. But the good news is, if you're flying with an EU-based airline, or a non-EU airline that flies from an EU airport, you're protected by the Denied Boarding Regulation, so make sure you know your rights. European Union regulations mean that airlines must compensate passengers who are delayed by three hours or more.

Compensation is dependent on the reason for the delay. If the delay was caused by 'extraordinary circumstances', then no compensation is due.

These extraordinary circumstances include severe weather, a security risk or political risk, it also includes a strike that's not related to the airline, such as airport staff, ground handlers or air traffic control. 

In this instance, you're still entitled to meals, refreshments and accommodation; depending on the length of delay and distance of your flight (see below).

To find out more about compensation levels, visit the European Union website.

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How to claim compensation if your flight is delayed

According to the Denied Boarding Regulation, your entitlements depend on the length of your flight and the delay.

How to claim refunds for travel delays

For example, if your flight distance is less than 932 miles (1,500 kilometres) and is delayed for over three hours, then you may be able to claim up to £200.

If the flight is delayed for more than five hours, you have the option to withdraw from your flight and claim a full refund. Please click here for more information.

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How to claim compensation if your flight is cancelled

In the event of a cancelled flight, airlines are obliged to either reimburse or re-route passengers on the next available flight, or on an agreed date.

If your flight is cancelled due to a strike by the airline staff, you may be offered a refund, the option to rebook with the airline at a later date, or an alternative flight with a different airline. 

If you're offered re-routing on a flight that leaves less than an hour before the original flight and is due to arrive at your destination less than two hours later than the original flight, then you're not entitled to compensation.

If the flight offered doesn't fall within these time frames, or you're offered no alternative flight, then you can claim compensation. Again, if the airline can prove the delay was due to 'extraordinary circumstances', then you are not entitled to compensation.

While this can seem like a minefield, as long as you're aware of your rights then you will know whether you are entitled to compensation or not.

For more detailed information, please click here.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.