My flight was cancelled. Can I make a claim for compensation?


When a flight is delayed or cancelled it causes untold chaos for travellers. So it’s important to know what your rights are.

NB: The following is true right now but could change after BREXIT

Flight delay compensation law

Under EU 261/2004 if you’re flight is delayed by more than three hours or your flight was cancelled you are often entitled to up to €600/£520 in compensation.

However savvy airlines were quick to find loopholes to avoid payouts. In October 2012 a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice clarified that passengers were entitled to compensation for long delays as long as they met the set criteria.

Even so airlines were still able to dodge claims that were more than two years old or blaming unforeseeable technical faults. The courts came to the rescue again and ruled in favour of flyers in rulings made in 2014 and 2015.

My flight was cancelled

Take a look at this list:

  • you were notified of it less than 14 days before the flight.
  • You have a confirmed flight reservation.
  • The disruption occurred in the last 3 years.
  • The reason for the flight disruption was within the airline’s control.
  • If you took a replacement flight, your new arrival time was significantly different to your original flight.

If you can answer yes to these then you may be eligible for compensation.

How much can I expect to receive in compensation?

There is a fixed level of compensation which is based on the distance of the travel.

€250/£216 If the distance is less than 1,500km/932 miles
€400/£346 if the distance is between 1,500km – 3,500km/2174 miles
€600/£520 if the distance is more than 3,500km

My flight was delayed. Can I get compensation?

You can if:

    • You arrived at your destination more than three hours later than planned.
    • The flight took off in the EU (from any airline) or landed in the EU (provided that the airline is headquartered in the EU).
    • You have checked in for your flight on time (generally no less than 45 minutes before departure).
    • You encountered these problems on a flight operated no more than three years ago.
    • The airline is responsible for the delay (e.g. operational circumstances and technical difficulties).

I am worried about getting it wrong. Should I get an expert to do it?

It can be daunting, but you could start by writing to the airline and then to the relevant regulator or ADR – Alternative Dispute Resolution – scheme yourself. Why share your payout with a claims company when you don’t have to?

If you do hit a brick wall or feel unsure you can approach a solicitor or a claims company such Airhelp to do it for you.

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