Claiming Compensation for Delayed Flights in the UK and EU


Claiming Compensation for Delayed Flights in the UK and EU

6 min read

Did you know?

According to recent data from FlightAware, there are around 30,000 delayed flights every year around the world. The majority of these are delayed for 30 minutes or less, but some are delayed for several hours.

It’s often dismissed as just “one of those things”. It’s something we put up with. But it doesn’t have to be. If your flight is delayed, you could make a compensation claim.

How to Claim Compensation on Delayed Flights

There are a few rules when it comes to claiming compensation for flight delays. It comes down to three things:

  • Was it a UK/EU flight? These rules only apply to airlines/departures in the UK/EU.
  • How long was the delay? Only delays of 3 hours or more are entitled to full compensation, but you might get something if the delay was 2 hours.
  • Whose fault was the delay? The airlines are not liable if the delay was out of their control.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these points.

The Departure Country and Airline

There are a few qualifying criteria:

  • Your flight leaves from the UK (airline is irrelevant)
  • Your flight leaves from Iceland, Switzerland, Norway, or a country in the EU (airline is irrelevant)
  • You are arriving in the UK or EU (with an EU or UK airline)

If your flight isn’t in the above categories, you may still be entitled to some form of compensation, often in the form of a re-booked flight or accommodation. The rules vary by country and airline, so you should check the terms and conditions of your chosen airline.

The Length of the Delay

There are a couple of things to note here.

Firstly, if your flight falls into one of the below categories, the airline is required to provide you with food, drink, and access to emails and phone calls:

  • Flights of less than 1,500km with a 2+ hour delay
  • Flights between 1,500km and 3,500km with a 3+ hour delay
  • Flights of more than 3,500km with a 4+ hour delay

If the delay runs through the night, they should provide accommodation and travel.

The airline may give you vouchers to acquire the necessary goods and services. If not, and you pay for them yourself, keep all receipts as you may be able to claim the money back.

The second category is where the compensation comes into play. You can get at least £220 for 3-hour delays, but could be entitled to more:

  • Flights of less than 1,500km with a 3+ hour delay = £220 compensation
  • Flights of 1,500km to 3,500km with a 3+ hour delay = £350 compensation
  • Flights of more than 3,500km with a delay of less than 4 hours = £260 compensation
  • Flights of more than 3,500km with a 4+ hour delay = £520 compensation

See below for an example of flight distances:

  • Manchester to Amsterdam = 480km
  • London to Berlin = 940km
  • Edinburgh to Rome = 1,900km
  • London to Athens = 2,400km
  • London to Dubai = 5,400km

The Reason for the Delay

The delay has to be the airline’s fault for you to claim. This means you can claim if they delay a flight to try and fill seats or if there is a technical/staffing issue. But if an unpronounceable volcano in Iceland decides to blow its top and ground half of Europe, you can’t claim.

Security risks are also not the airline’s fault. So, if they are forced to ground a plane because of a perceived threat, you likely won’t get any cash.

In such cases, however, the airline will still provide you with food and drink while they work on remedying the issue.

How Do I Claim for a Delayed Flight?

Your claim needs to go through the airline. Search their website for details on making a claim and get in touch. Bear in mind that they typically receive a lot of emails and may not be in a rush to pay. They will get there in the end, but it’s not something that will be settled quickly.

What About Connecting Flights?

You should get compensation if all of the following are true:

  • All flights were under the same booking
  • The delay was 3 hours or more (as per the criteria above)
  • The airline was at fault

For instance, if you book from Edinburgh to Sydney and are delayed for 3+ hours during a stopover in Doha, you can claim provided the delay was not their fault and you booked an indirect flight. However, if you booked a single ticket from Edinburgh to Doha and then again from Doha to Sydney, you’re out of luck. You also wouldn’t be able to claim if the delay was because of a security threat or storm.

What if the Flight Costs Less Than the Compensation?

You’re not being refunded. You’re being compensated, so if the flight costs less than the amount you receive, consider it a free holiday! Albeit one that you only get after enduring several miserable hours waiting around at the airport.

What if There is a Delay with a Replacement Flight?

If the airline is unable to fly you to a specific location at a specified time, they are entitled to offer you a replacement flight for free. If you have to wait for this flight, the airline must provide you with food and drink as a minimum, and will need to cover travel costs and accommodation if the wait is overnight.

If that flight is delayed, the same rules apply and you can make a claim.

What if the Flight is Cancelled?

Cancelled flights are a nuisance, as you may already have made arrangements for when you arrive and could be out of pocket as a result. Fortunately, you can claim compensation if the airline is at fault and the following apply:

  • Your flight was cancelled less than two weeks before the scheduled departure date.
  • The replacement flight delays your original arrival time by 2 hours or more.

In such cases, you can claim anywhere from £110 to £520 depending on the extent of the delay and the distance of the flight.

Important Disclaimer! At Cheap Airport Parking, although we make every effort to ensure the information we publish is correct, the information on this page is provided as a guide only. Nothing on this page should be considered to be legal advice and if you're in any doubt about your own situation, contact your airline or if necessary, a solicitor.