Delayed flights and cancelled flights can cause anything from minor inconvenience to a hellish ordeal. There’s really only so long you can spend browsing overpriced tat and trying to nap on benches that aren’t designed for napping at all, before you really start to lose your mind. Can you get compensations for delayed flights and flights which are cancelled? Oh yes you can!
The good news is that depending on your circumstances, you may able to claim flight delay compensation…
Please note: Getting compensation for delayed flights in Europe is much easier than elsewhere in the world. Also important to note is that you won’t have a chance of compensation if the delay is due to bad weather. Buckle up and I’ll talk you through the deets.
Fill in the form below to see if you can claim back money on your flight that did not go to plan.
It only takes 3 minutes!
This depends on a few factors: The length of the delay, the reason for the delay and the route of your flight.
A delay must be more than 3 hours to be considered significant, so be sure that your delay was at least this long before you try to claim flight compensation.
If the reason for the delay was out of the airline’s control, for example bad weather or a worker strike, you won’t be able to get compensation from airlines for delayed flights.
If your flight left from the EU, you will have more passenger rights than in the US – more details below.
For flights that depart from anywhere in the EU, as well as flights into the EU operated by an EU airline, you are protected by a piece of EU legislation known as EC261. This requires airlines to compensate passengers for denied boarding, flight cancellations, and delays of longer than 3 hours. The amount will depend on the length of your journey and the amount of time that you were delayed, but as a guide you could claim up to $700.
You are also entitled to a ‘right to care’, which means the airline must provide you with meals and refreshments, two free phone calls or access to email, and a hotel room and transport to it if you are delayed overnight. However, under EC261 you are not entitled to compensation in ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as political unrest, bad weather or staff going on strike.
In the United States, air passenger rights aren’t quite as extensive. Airlines aren’t required by law to give any compensation for delayed flights, and they also aren’t obliged to offer you any meals during your delay – it is up to each individual airline to decide what they will offer you if your flight is delayed.
Many airlines will offer you a full refund if you decide not to travel because of the delay, but you won’t be able to claim any compensation if you still took the flight. You can only get compensation on delayed flights in the US if you were sitting in the plane on the tarmac for more than 3 hours. You can also get compensation for other flight problems in the US including denied boarding (such as if you’re bumped off the plane due to overbooking) and luggage problems.
For flights between other countries, you may be covered by the Montreal Convention, which is an international treaty designed to protect air passengers’ rights. There are 130 member countries, and basically if you fly between two member countries and experience a problem with your flight, you may able to claim compensation for additional expenses that were caused by the disruption (such as missed reservations or lost luggage).
The Montreal Convention covers delays, cancellations, denied boarding, and luggage issues such as damaged, delayed or missing luggage. You will need to provide evidence of any additional expenses that you want to claim for, so keep all your credit card statements and receipts for pre-paid reservations that you missed, or essential items that you needed to buy as a result of the delay.
Get travel insurance to protect yourself from flight problems! Travel insurance offers you another layer of protection while travelling and may pay out for things that your airline isn’t obliged to pay for.
For example, if your luggage is delayed you may be able to get daily compensation from your insurer until you are reunited with your bags.
Travel insurance is also a must if you’re travelling with any valuable items or equipment that may be worth more than the statutory limits of EC261 or the Montreal Convention. I use World Nomads for travel insurance and highly recommend them.
For cancelled flights, your passenger rights are similar to when your flight is delayed.
For flights covered by EC261 as described above, if your flight is cancelled within 14 days of your planned travel date, you could receive canceled flight compensation of up to €600. However, this does not apply if the cancellation was due to bad weather. You also will not be able to claim compensation if you were offered an alternative flight that would depart and land at the same time as the one you had originally booked.
For US flights, your airline is not obliged to pay flight cancellation compensation. Most airlines will offer you the choice of rebooking onto the next available flight or a full refund.
For flights between countries covered by the Montreal Convention (see above), you are able to claim compensation for expenses caused by cancelled flights.
For flights between countries not covered by the above, it is up to the individual airline. Most airlines will offer you a choice between a full refund or an alternative flight. If the cancelled flight causes you additional expenses, you may be able to claim on your travel insurance as above.
If your flight is eligible for compensation, you generally have a time limit in which you can make the claim. This varies by country but it might be longer than you think – for example, if you live in the UK you can claim for a delayed flight up to 6 years after the event.
According to EC261 which covers EU flights, bad weather is an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ and the airline is not obliged to pay you any compensation. However, airlines know this and may try to use bad weather as an excuse. If you go through Claim Compass, they will check weather reports to make sure that the reason they give is actually true.
In the US, you aren’t legally entitled to compensation for flight delays that are due to bad weather. There are no federal laws that require this, so it is up to each individual airline to decide what they can offer you if your flight is delayed due to inclement weather.
If you want to have the best chances of claiming compensation for a delayed flight, there are a few steps you should take.
It’s a good idea to make your complaint known before leaving the airport where the delay occurred. Talk to the airline’s ground staff and find out as much as possible about why the flight is delayed or what is causing the problem. You may also be given food vouchers if you simply ask for them. With airlines, sometimes if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Another thing you should do is keep every bit of paper relating to your flight including your boarding pass and receipts for any expenses incurred by the delay. Any piece of evidence you hold onto will help increase your chances of getting flight compensation.
Airport staff may try to appease you with vouchers or offer you a Business Class upgrade on your next flight, but be careful. In accepting their offer and signing an innocuous-looking form, you may be waiving your right to later claim compensation. If you aren’t happy with what they offer you, clearly and calmly state what you would prefer, and don’t sign any documents.
If you have any additional issues such as delayed or damaged baggage, try to sort out as much as you can at the arrival airport. I know it’s the last thing you want to do after a nightmare flight, but try to speak with someone from the airline so that you can complete any necessary paperwork and get the best chance of being able to claim your compensation.
In order to make your claim for compensation, you will have to go through your airline and there are a few ways to do this. You could fill in the online complaints form on their website, but don’t expect a quick response. You’ll have more luck if you call their contact centre or use social media.
Another great option is to use a company like Claim Compass. This makes the process easier for you as airlines can be notoriously difficult to contact! If you’ve no patience for clicking round in circles looking for contact details on airline websites or spending your Skype credit on hold to call centres, you should definitely consider it. They work on a no-win no-fee basis, so you don’t have to pay anything upfront – you just pay a percentage of the amount won if your claim is successful.
I’m often asked if a specific airline offers compensations for delayed flights, so here’s the rundown.
Yes, if the delay was their fault. Because Ryanair is an EU airline, if your flight is cancelled or delayed for more than 3 hours you will be covered by EC261, and you will be able to claim compensation as well as a refund or rebooking provided that the reason was not due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as bad weather.
Yes, depending on the reason for the delay. Easyjet is an EU airline so it is covered by EC261. If your flight arrives more than 3 hours after the scheduled arrival time, you may be eligible for compensation, provided that your Easyjet delay was not due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as bad weather. Under Easyjet’s policy, your flight must be delayed for 5 or more hours before you can get a refund or rebooking.
Yes, if the delay is due to reasons within BA’s control. If you arrive at your destination more than 3 hours later than scheduled, and the delay is not due to extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather, you can claim for delayed flights under EC261 as above. British Airways’ policy states that you can re-route or get your money back for delayed flights if your flight is delayed by more than 5 hours.
Yes, if the delay was for reasons within the airline’s control (not for bad weather). If your Jet2 flight landed more than 3 hours late, you will be eligible for delay compensation under EC261 as Jet2 is a UK-based carrier. Jet2 gives refunds on delayed flights if the delay was for 5 hours or more.
As Delta is a US carrier, you are only covered by EC261 if your Delta flight departs from the EU (for example a flight from London Heathrow to New York). For delayed Delta flights that depart from anywhere other than the EU, you would be able to get a refund or rebooking but no additional compensation. If your Delta flight is delayed for more than four hours overnight, you’ll be provided with hotel accommodation and transport there and back as long as the delay is due to reasons within the airline’s control. If your delay is due to bad weather, you will not be entitled to compensation for any expenses that are incurred.
Similarly to Delta, you are covered by EC261 only if your American Airlines flight departs from inside the EU. If it departs from anywhere outside the EU, you can request a refund or rebooking but no additional compensation. If you are delayed overnight and the delay is not due to unforeseeable circumstances such as bad weather, you will be provided with accommodation. If the delay is due to bad weather, you will not be entitled to any compensation for additional expenses arising from the delay.
Hopefully all of your questions have been answered above. Remember to be proactive, know your rights, collect all the paperwork and evidence you can and to check your eligibility with the airline or Claim Compass. Fingers crossed you get back what you deserve! And pinkies crossed that you don’t have to come back to this article again for your next trip!
Has your flight been delayed in the past? Were you eligible for compensation? How did you go about getting your refund? What worked? What didn’t? Are there any questions you have which are not answered in this article? Comment below!