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How Much Compensation Can I Claim For a Flight Delay or Cancellatio

A delayed or cancelledflight can leave you facing many uncomfortable hours or even days stranded at the airport and force you to cut short or evenabandon your plans for your holiday.Thankfully, there are laws in place which allow you to claim compensation for such situations.

Under European Union Regulation 261, airlines passengers have the right to compensation if their flights are cancelled or delayed by more than three hours.

This regulation protects the rights of any passenger who has experienced this kind of delay or cancellation at any point in the past six years. This protection extends to anyone issued with a ticket for a particular flight - regardless of how old they are or whether or not theypaid for the ticket themselves.

The only exception is that a passenger who flies for free is not entitled to compensation. This means, for example, that you cannot claimcompensation for an infant who travels without a ticket of their own or receive compensationfor a ticketfor which no charge was made. However, so long as you paid for the infant’s ticket, regardless of what the actual fare was, then you can claim compensation in respect of delays or cancellations just as you would for an adult.

The rules of flight delay compensation

European Union Regulation 261 is officially known as the Denied Boarding Regulation and refers to passengers who have tickets for particularflights but are not allowed to board the aircraft. However, the rule actuallycovers far more than its name suggests as it can also be used to win compensation in cases where flights have been delayed or cancelled.

The level of compensation to which you are entitledis basedon a number offixed factors including:

  • The distance of your flight.
  • The durationof your flight.
  • Whether or not your flight destination is within the EU.

If your journey begins within the EU, you are entitled to compensation if your flight is cancelled or delayed by three hours or greater.Thisalso holds true if you fly from a non-EU country as a passenger on board a European airline headed towards an EU country.

It’s a common misconception to believe that theamount of compensation you received is linkedto the cost of your ticket. Thisis not true. Because EU regulations govern compensation payments, the amount you are awardedfor a successful claim will be paidin Euros before being converted to your local currency.

Regardless of whether you paid £1 for your ticket or £1,000, the amount of compensation you will receive as the result of a cancelledor delayed flight will be the same.

If my flight is delayed, what other compensation am I entitled to?

Passengers subjected to delays are entitled to receive "care and assistance" from the airlines once their flights have been delayed for two hours or more,or three hours in the case of long-haul flights. Thisis usually in the form of:

  • Free food and drink.
  • The cost of two phone calls or emails.
  • Free hotel accommodation and free transportation to the hotel in the case of an overnight delay.

As many people today have mobile phones and all-inclusivecalling plans, it is unlikely you will need to make a claim forthis part of your compensation. However, if you need to contact someone in an emergency and need to use the public telephone system or an internet café, youwill be entitled to have any costs you pay out refunded back to you.

What information do I need in order tomake a flight compensation claim?

In order tomake a claim, you need to be in possession of the following information:

  • The date of travel and number of your flight.
  • The booking reference number or code for your flight.
  • Details of any connecting flights involved.

It’s also a good idea to include in your submission the reason why the airline told you the flight had been cancelledor delayed. You will also most likely need a copy of your ticket or a copy of the booking confirmation.

“The purpose of the law is to give airlines a strong financial incentive to operate their schedules as promised to passengers even when there is an otherwise strong commercial case to cancel them at the last minute due to low bookings.” The Economist

Flight cancellations

If your flight is cancelled, your airline isobliged to offer you the chance to be fully reimbursed for the cost of your flightor of being rerouted to your destination, either on the next available flight or on amutually agreed date.

If the event of a cancellation, you are also entitled to compensation unless:

  • You are informedof the cancellation a minimum of two weeks before you are due to depart.
  • You are informedof the cancellation between one and two weeks before you are due to departbut told your flight will be rerouted and that you will reach your final destination no more than four hours after your original arrival time.
  • Yourflight has been reroutedandyou will get to your final destination no more than two hours later than your original arrival time.

The amount of compensation paid out with respect tocancellation claims varies according to the distance to the final destination. The amounts are:

  • €250 for flights under 1500 kilometres(932 miles - short haul).
  • €400 for all longer flights within EU, and for all other flights between 1500 kilometres(932 miles) and 3500 kilometres(2175 miles - medium haul).
  • €600 for all other flights (long-haul).

The amount of compensation payable can be reduced by half if the airline gives you the option of re-routing your flightsand the difference between your original arrival time and new arrival time is less than:

  • Two hours for short haul flights.
  • Three hours for medium haul flights.
  • Four hours for long-haulflights.


How much compensation will I receive?

  • Flights within EU up to 1,500km (932 miles) delayed by more than 3 hours: €250.
  • Any flightwithin the EU over 1,500km (932 miles) but less than 3,500 km (2,175 miles) delayedby more than 3 hours: €400.
  • Flights outside EU between 1,500km (932 miles) and 3,500km (2,175 miles) delayedby more than 3 hours: €300.
  • Flights outside EU more than 3,500km (2,175 miles) delayed by between 3-4 hours: €300.
  • Flights outside EU more than 3,500km (2,175 miles) delayedby more than 4 hours: €600.

Extraordinary circumstances

The one defenceavailable to an airline that enables them to avoid paying flight delay compensation is for them to claim that there were “extraordinary circumstances” involved. For such a defenceto be successful, the delay or cancellation has to be the result of events that were completelybeyond the control of the airlines such as poor weather.

“You are only entitled to compensation if the delay was something within the airline’s control. Staffing problems, under-booking and not having the aircraft in place all count. But political unrest or bad weather don’t.” Martin Lewis

Typical “extraordinary circumstances” scenariosinclude:

  • Actsof sabotage or terrorism.
  • Strikes or other industrial action unrelated to the airline.
  • Civil or political unrest.
  • Extreme weather conditions.
  • The presenceof previously unknown manufacturing defects in the aircraft.

Ithas, however, been known for airlines to claim extraordinary circumstances in incidents where the causes of the delay or cancellation were, in fact, within their control. Typical scenarios include:

  • Pilots, cabin crew or other members of staff reporting late for work.
  • An overbooked aircraft which means certainpassengers have to be “bumped” to later flights.
  • Technical issueswith the aircraft.
  • Badweatheraffecting a previous flight that causes your later flight to be delayed.

Can I make claims on behalf of other travellers?

If you are travellingas part of a group or partof a family, you can make claims on their behalf justso long as youhave their permission to do so.

Am I entitled to flight compensation if a delay causes me to miss my connecting flight?

You can make a claim for a missed connection even if the original flight delayed by less than three hours. What counts in such circumstances is the time you arrive at your final destination. If a short delay causes you to miss your connection and you arrive at your end destination more than three hours later than youoriginally intended to, you will still be entitled to compensation.

Is compensation available for flights that have been diverted?

If your airline ends up flying you to an airport other than the one you originally intended to fly to and this happens due to circumstances that are within the control of the airline, such as your plane being diverted due to staffing shortages, then you are still able to make a claim. However, you still need to have ended up at your final destination more than three hours after your original arrival time.

Thisalso applies if you end up at a different airport because your originalairline has booked you on a flight operated by a different airline, causing you to arrive at your final destination more than three hours late. In such circumstances, you would pursue a claim against the airline you originally booked with.

Although airlines are legally obliged to pay compensation in such circumstances, they will often refuse to make such payments in the first instance. For example, many airlines have attempted to claim that technical difficulties with their aircraft are beyond their control and should therefore not be allowed to form the basis of compensations claims. This challenge has failed in court on numerous occasions meaning such claimsare and will continue to be valid.

Despite the law, many airlines do not respond to compensation claims made by individual passengers or do so extremelyslowly.

At FairPlane UK, we save you the hassle of having to make the claimyourself and offer a highly-effective service that costs you nothing unless your claimis successful.

If you or members of the party you are travellingwith have disabilities, airlines are required to pay specialattention to their needs. The same applies to any unaccompanied children intending to travelon the delayed or cancelledflight.

If your flight is delayed by more than five hours, you are then able to choose between being re-routed to your destination or given a full refund of the money that you paid for the flight. If you make the decision not to take the flight, you will still be entitled to food, drink andaccommodation as a result of the delay.

I have only just learned about flight delay compensation – can I still make a claim?

The law applies strict time limits to claims, butthese still go back for some time so even if your delay took place many years ago, it is likely that you will still be able to claim compensation.

In Scotland, you have five years from the date of the flight in which to make a claim. In England and Wales, the time limit for claimsis six years from the date of your flight.

The situation is slightly different for those passengers who were under the age of 18 at the time of the delay. A parent can make a claimon behalf of a child at any point, butif they fail to do so, the child has until 6years from their 18th birthday in order topresent a claim. These are the only circumstances in which it is possible to make a claim fora flight that occurred more than six years in the past.

Will Brexit affect my ability to make a claim?

As the rules around flight delay compensation are currently part of EU law, the rules are subject to change once the Brexit process is complete in March 2019. While all the information relatedto flight delay compensation continues to apply up until that date, it is currently unclear what the situation will be post-Brexit. For this reason, it is a good idea to ensure you file any claims being brought under the existing legislation as promptly as possible.

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