How to claim compensation for delayed and cancelled flights

Simon Ward
by Lovemoney Staff Simon Ward on 04 February 2013  |  Comments 5 comments

The outcome of a recent court case means it could now be possible to claim for flight delays dating back years.

How to claim compensation for delayed and cancelled flights

Passengers hit by long flight delays can now claim compensation, even if the disruption occurred up to six years ago, following a court ruling.

Last week, Jeff and Joyce Halsall from Staffordshire successfully won £680 in compensation from Thomas Cook for a flight from Tenerife in 2009 that was delayed by 22 hours. That has potentially opened the floodgates for other retrospective claims.

Compensation for delays

An EU regulation created back in 2005 – EU261 – means that airlines flying out of the EU and EU airlines flying into the EU have to pay compensation for delays of more than three hours. That aspect of the ruling was upheld by the European Court of Justice last October.

The compensation levels are set as:

  • €250 (£215) for inter-EU flights of 930 miles or less (eg London-Paris);
  • €400 (£345) for flights between 930 and 1,860 miles (eg London-Istanbul);
  • €600 (£517) for longer flights (eg London-New York).

This applies to all delays except for those caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as the Icelandic ash clouds of 2010 and 2011 or industrial action.

Compensation for cancellations

If your flight has been cancelled, your airline must get you to your destination or offer you a full refund. If your flight is delayed by more than five hours and you no longer want to travel you are entitled to a full refund.

Your airline may have recommended you make your own travel arrangements. If that's the case, you need to have kept the relevant receipts to claim your money back.

Duty of care

However, if you are delayed for a long time then you have rights to ‘a duty of care’ from the airline while you can’t travel.

You should be offered:

  • meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time;
  • hotel accommodation in cases where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary;
  • transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel or other).

Plus two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or emails.

There are qualifying times for this ‘duty of care’ to kick in, which are:

  • two hours for flights of 930 miles or less;
  • three hours for all flights of between 930 and 1,860 miles;
  • four hours for longer flights than the above.

Ryanair recently lost a test case where it had refused to pay the expenses incurred by a passenger who had to stay on in Portugal for a week after the 2010 Icelandic ash cloud.

She claimed expenses of €1,130 for a hotel, meals and drinks, which the airline had refused to reimburse. It was ordered to pay them in full, as there is no cap on expenses.

However, the court ruled that the airline industry could pass on the potential cost of such claims in the form of higher air fares.

If you were stuck and the airline refused to help you with accommodation and/or food, you should be able to claim the costs, providing they were reasonable (ie you didn't stay in a five-star hotel) and you have receipts for all your expenses.

How to claim

If you believe you have a legitimate claim for reimbursement and/or compensation, you should contact the airline concerned first.

Regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has a letter template you can use for your claim (opens as a Word document).

You should provide as much information and evidence as you can, including flight numbers, booking/reservation references and copies of receipts if relevant.

If the airline refuses your claim, you can raise it with the CAA. Keep copies of all correspondence you send. There's more advice on referring a complaint to the CAA on its website.

If the airline still refuses to pay, then you could pursue legal action through the County Court.

More on travel

The best websites for bargain holidays

How to beat sneaky budget airline charges

Tuesday cheapest day to fly with British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair

Lost luggage: your rights

How to get a bargain hotel room

Enjoyed this? Show it some love

Twitter
General

Comments (5)

  • jedi44
    Love rating 43
    jedi44 said

    I read this with interest since anybody likes to be given money back. However, I can't help but think that the claim I am entitled to make against easyJet would be farcical.

    Returning from Alicante to Newcastle, in December 2009, we were delayed 4 hours in Alicante and arrived a bit under 4 hours late at Newcastle. The reason we were given was that a member of the flight crew was ill and they had to wait for a replacement to be flown out from the UK. I don't know if that counts as "extraordinary" or not.

    My point is that, for a flight that length with 2 passengers, I am being told that I would be entitled to compensation of €800. The inconvenience was minimal and the total return flights had only cost £262, so how can I morally be due that much. If every passenger that has suffered these sort of delays chooses to claim compensation, the only result will be vast increases in fares. Will greed shoot fliers in the foot?

    Report on 05 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves
  • yocoxy
    Love rating 152
    yocoxy said

    "Out of our control" is not a valid defence except when there's a major issue like the ash cloud.. They will no doubt try this, just write again informing that you're going to the next level (I don't remember the name of the body but it's in the leaflet that they are legally obliged to give you).

    Report on 11 February 2013  |  Love thisLove  0 loves

Post a comment

Sign in or register to post a reply.

Our top deals

Credit card
company
Balance transfers rate and period Representative
APR
Apply
now

Barclaycard 31Mth Platinum Visa

0% for 31 months (2.99% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. A Balance Transfer fee of 3.5% will be applied, then reduced to 2.99% by a refund (terms and conditions apply). Plus an additional £20 fee refund on balance transfers over £2000.

Barclaycard 30Mth Platinum Visa

0% for 30 months (2.89% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status. A Balance Transfer fee of 3.5% will be applied, then reduced to 2.89% by a refund (terms and conditions apply). Plus an additional £20 fee refund on balance transfers over £2000.

MBNA 30Mth Platinum Credit Card Visa

0% for 30 months (2.89% fee) Representative 18.9% APR (variable) Apply
Representative example: Assumed borrowing of £1,200 for 1 year, at a Purchase Rate of 18.9% (variable), representative 18.9% APR (variable). Credit available subject to status.
W3C  Thank you for using One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest