When can you get flight delay compensation?

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If your flight is delayed, in many cases you can claim compensation. The amount you may get varies. So, when can you get flight delay compensation?

When can you get flight delay compensation?

If your flight takes off from an airport in the European Union (which the UK is part of, until we leave), you are entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed by more than three hours. The rules also apply if your flight is to an airport within the European Union from outside the EU, as long as it’s on an airline that has its headquarters within the European Union.

  • The rules vary according to the distance you’re flying and how long you’ve been delayed. Exactly what the airline has to provide will depend on whether you were booked on a short or long-haul flight and how long the delay is for.

SAVVY TIP: If your flight is delayed by more than three hours you can claim some kind of compensation.

How much compensation will you get?

You can claim compensation if your flight is delayed by more than three hours in most circumstances. However, there are what’s called ‘extraordinary circumstances’ when you aren’t entitled to any compensation (it’s normally security alerts or extreme weather). Please note: The delay time is based on the time the flight is due to arrive not the departure time.

SAVVY TIP You can see the examples of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ that don’t qualify for compensation, on the Civil Aviation Authority website.

This is what the rules say for flights that depart or land in the EU or are with an EU-based airline:

Flight distance of up to 1500km (for example a flight from London to Paris):

  1. If the delay is more than two hours but under three hours, you can expect ‘care and assistance’ from the airline if the flight is delayed. This will normally mean food vouchers so you can buy refreshments, a refund of the cost of calls and – if appropriate, transport to your home if you can get there or overnight accommodation in a nearby hotel.
  2. If the delay is more than three hours but less than five hours, you can claim €250 in compensation (around £220 as I write this on July 19 2018) in addition to the food and drink etc.
  3. If the delay is more than five hours you can get a refund of the cost of the flight, if you prefer. You can also get a refund of the cost of any onward and/or return flights that you made under the same booking, but won’t now use.

Flight distance of 1500-3500 km (for example from London to Istanbul)

  1. If the delay is more than two hours but less than three hours, you can expect ‘care and assistance’ from the airline. This will normally mean food vouchers so you can buy refreshments, a refund of the cost of calls and – if appropriate, transport to your home if you can get there or overnight accommodation in a nearby hotel.
  2. If the delay is more than three hours but less than five hours, you can €400 in compensation (around £355 as I write this on July 19 2018).
  3. If the delay is more than five hours you can get a refund of the cost of the flight, if you prefer. You can also get a refund of the cost of any onward and/or return flights that you made under the same booking, but won’t now use.

Flight distance of over 3500 km (for example, London to New York)

  1. If the delay is more than two hours but less than three hours, you can expect ‘care and assistance’ from the airline. This will normally mean food vouchers so you can buy refreshments, a refund of the cost of calls and – if appropriate, transport to your home if you can get there or overnight accommodation in a nearby hotel. you can expect ‘care and assistance’ from the airline.
  2. If the delay is more than three hours but less than four hours, you can claim €300 in compensation from the airline (around £265 as I write this on July 19 2018).
  3. If the delay is more than four hours you can claim €600 in compensation (around £530 as I write this on July 19 2018).
  4. If the delay is more than five hours you can get a refund of the cost of the flight, if you prefer. You can also get a refund of the cost of any onward and/or return flights that you made under the same booking, but won’t now use.

How to claim compensation

You should contact your airline to make a claim, unless you bought your ticket from a travel agent, in which case you should claim compensation from the travel agent. You will need to give them:

Your details: including your name, address and email address and a contact number.

The details of anyone you were flying with: You would need to give their full name(s).

The flight details: including date and time, flight number, booking reference and how much the flight was delayed by.

The claim details: how much compensation you’re claiming and whether this includes a claim for food and drink etc as well. If you’re claiming for expenses you’ve incurred, make sure you include copies of receipts.

SAVVY TIP: There’s a section on delays and compensation on the Civil Aviation Authority website.

Cancelled flights

If your airline cancels your flight they must either give you a refund or rebook you on another flight as soon as they can. If you’ve booked a package holiday you have better protection. You must either be offered a refund or an alternative holiday and the refund covers the entire cost of the holiday (price you paid), not just the flight.

Can you claim hotel costs?

If you booked your hotel and flight separately and your flight has been cancelled you’re still likely to have to pay for the hotel, says Simon Calder, Travel Editor of the Independent. “The hotel will say that it’s not its fault that you have to cancel and your room is available for you as arranged.”

SAVVY TIP: If you have to cancel your hotel booking the only way you can get your hotel costs reimbursed is if you have travel insurance.

Making a claim for compensation that’s been turned down

If you’ve already made a claim for flight delay compensation and it’s been turned down by the airline because the delay was due to a ‘technical fault’, you may be able to make a fresh claim. That’s because of a Supreme Court ruling on 31st October 2014.

What this means: This means you can go back to an airline that turned you down for compensation in the last six years (five years in Scotland) and ask them to compensate you. If you have made a claim more recently, but this has been put on hold, your airline should restart the process.

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