We’ve all been there, you arrive at check in only to be told your flight has been delayed 3hrs with the next update at 3pm. But what exactly are your rights when you have a flight delay? Grab a cup of tea…it’s gonna be a long one!
Flight delays. There really is nothing that bursts your travel bubble more than checking into a flight only to be told your flight hasn’t even left its destination but the airline ‘are expecting an update within the hour’
So now your left for the next few hours to wander around the airport like a lost sheep spending money that you’d put aside for that awesome underwater adventure you’ve been wanderlusting over for the past 6 months. And to top it all off you’re now also missing out on that first day in the sun. So much for booking the first flight of the day eh?
So what exactly are your rights when it comes to flight delays?
According the EU rule 261/2004 your rights are as follows:
1- These flight regulations only apply to flight within the EU, departing the EU or those operated by an EU registered airline.
For example: A flight from London to Los Angeles qualifies as it is departing the EU no matter the operating airline. A flight from Los Angeles to London only qualifies if the airline is registered in the EU. So if you fly with British Airways or KLM who are both EU registered airlines then these rules apply, however if you fly with United or American Airlines these rules do not apply as you are neither departing from the EU or flying with an EU Airline.
Confused yet? Go get some more caffeine!
When it comes to codeshares and flight connections there can be grey areas. My advice would be when flying to/from the EU to always try and use EU registered airlines in case situations like this arise. For example, You fly from Los Angeles to London with American Airlines but then have a connection to Aberdeen with British Airways. The chances are as American Airlines are the operator of the longest flight then you wouldn’t be able to claim under the 261/2004 rule. (Crap i know, especially when British Airways & American Airlines are related to each other in the Airline family world!)
How I like to use flight delay time.
2- You are entitled to what is known as a Welfare Package if you experience delays as follows:
0-1500km (eg Manchester – Frankfurt) : Over 2hr delay
1500-3500km (eg Newcastle to Mallorca) : Over 3hr delay
3500km+ (eg London to Delhi): Over 4hr delay
What this means is that the airline should provide you with meal vouchers along with any overnight accommodation if applicable. If the airline refuses to hand anything out then keep hold of all your receipts to try and claim this amount back from the airline. For instance, when i had a 3hr delay with FlyBe they gave us food vouchers for the airport worth £7.50 each. We used these towards breakfast in the departure lounge. Anything over the voucher value comes out of your own pocket and you can only use the voucher once. No change will be given and you also can not purchase alcohol with it so spend wisely!
3- You are only entitled to compensation if your flight delay is greater than 3hrs upon arrival at your destination. So you could depart London 3hrs 30 mins late but if the plane gets into the jet stream and picks up time and you arrive 2hrs and 59 minutes later than your original arrival time then you can not make a claim. The rule is that it is at least a 3hr delay upon arrival at your destination.
The airline will also only pay out if the delay was their fault. If there has been bad weather that has delayed the flight then you are not entitled to claim as this is seen as ‘An Act Of God’ so is outwith the airlines hands. If they delay is due to the aircraft ‘going tech’ then you can make the claim.
4- How much compensation you are entitled to depends entirely on distance and time delayed. The below table is correct as of May 2016:
|Time Delayed||Distance||Compensation||Refund If You Don't Travel|
|Under 2hrs 59mins||Any||None||None|
|3hrs +||All flights under 1500KM||EUR250 per person||Yes, if over 5hr delay|
|3hrs+||Fights between 1500-3500KM||EUR400 per person||Yes, if over 5hr delay|
|3-4hrs||Flights between EU & Non EU airport over 3500KM||EUR300 per person||None|
|4hrs+||Flights between EU & Non EU Airport over 3500KM||EUR600 per person||Yes, if over 5hr delay|
Some airlines will try to pay you in vouchers instead of cash. When I claimed with FlyBe they offered me EUR50 more compensation if I chose FlyBe vouchers instead of cash. For airlines that you fly with frequently this can benefit you however if the airline only offers you vouchers then you are within your right to decline and request the money instead. If the airline refuse then they are breaking the law and you can report them to the ombudsman.
5- Some airlines will come back and say no. If you have ticked all the boxes and believe that the airline are in the wrong then you can raise this with the relevant authorities:
Flights departing UK to anywhere: Civil Aviation Authority
Flights departing anywhere else: Regulator in country of origin. You can find a list here :
6- My biggest tip of all…DO NOT PAY FOR SOMEONE TO CLAIM ON YOUR BEHALF!!!!!
Google ‘Claim for flight delays’ and you’ll be welcomed with page upon page of these companies who will happily claim on your behalf…..what they’ll also do is keep a pretty sizeable chunk of whatever compensation they get you! You don’t need to know any legal jargon or have fancy smanshy words. Below I have put a rough template for you to follow with the main information that the airlines require. Items in bold you will need to amend to your own information:
RE: Compensation Claim for Delayed Flight
Booking reference: XYZ123
I am writing to you regarding flight BA1234 on the 23rd of April 2016 from Aberdeen to London Heathrow with the scheduled departure time of 0900 and scheduled arrival time of 1035. This flight arrived into London Heathrow 3hrs and 45 minutes late at 1320.
The judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Tui & others v CAA confirmed the applicability of compensation for delay as set out in the Sturgeon case. As such, I am seeking compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004 for this delayed flight.
The passengers in the party were Mr Clint Barton, Mr Tony Stark, Miss Natasha Romanov and Mr Thor Odinson.
My scheduled flight length was 647km therefore I am seeking EUR250 per passenger.
The total compensation sought is EUR1000.
I look forward to a full response to this letter within 14 days. If not, then I shall pursue this case further through the relevant authorities which could result in taking m y case to court.
(Insert signature here)
Miss Natasha Romanov
See, how straight forward is that? (And yes, I am a total geek who used names of The Avengers in my example!)
When you sent the document off make sure to include all evidence such as boarding passes and flight confirmations along with any receipts. Airline contact information can be found on their websites. If you struggle to find it a lot now have a live chat facility which can be quick to respond.
7- Now if all that seems like more effort than its worth then there is another way….
Those of you in the UK will be aware of Martin Lewis…’The Money Man’.
Well his team have helped develop a 100% free tool that you can use for flight claims. You just fill out a couple of boxes and scan a copy of your boarding passes and they do all the leg work:
I used them recently for a delay with Flybe and I had no issues whatsoever (By the way this is by no means an affiliate link, I just really think it’s a great tool!)
Hopefully I have managed not to overload you with information but it is important that we know our rights when travelling. There are plenty of posts about airlines ripping people off with sky high baggage charges and posts about airlines not helping during delays. Well now is your chance to at least claim back something for all those wasted hours.
If there is anything in this post you’d like clarified or more information on then I’m happy to help out in any way I can. Comment below or drop me an email Lauren(at)cravingsunshine[dot]com