A Quick Guide to Delayed or Cancelled Flights


The winter season can usually cause havoc for air travellers at some point or another. But what are your rights if your flight is delayed or cancelled?

What are the rules?

If you depart from an EU airport on any airline, or are due to arrive at an EU airport on an EU carrier you are entitled to care and compensation under EU law for a delayed arrival time of more than two hours. The airline must provide food and drink appropriate to the time of day and a means of communicating your delay or a refund of the cost of essential calls.

For overnight delays, the airline must provide hotel accommodation and transport to reach it – or to return home. When there’s a major disruption, airline staff may not be able to assist in booking hotels. In such cases, you can make your own arrangements and claim the cost back. But don’t expect a full refund for an expensive hotel unless there’s no alternative. And keep all your receipts.


For delays of three hours or more you are entitled to a cash payment of €250 for short haul flights (less than 1,500km) and €400 for medium haul flights (1,500-3,500km).

For long haul flights (over 3,500km) you should receive €300 for a delay of 3-4 hours; €600 for more than four hours.

What are the exceptions to receiving compensation?

Compensation is not due in the case of “extraordinary circumstances”. These includes war or civil unrest, security issues, natural disasters, air traffic control restrictions, strikes by airport staff, medical emergencies and most commonly, weather issues.

How long do I have to claim?

You have up to six years to claim compensation for delayed flights.

Do I have to accept vouchers as compensation?

No, the airline is obliged to provide compensation in cash.

How do I claim compensation?

Compensation claims are never evaluated or resolved at the airport. If you believe you are due compensation, then the first step is to formally contact the air carrier. If you’re not satisfied with its response, then you can escalate by contacting your national aviation body.

As always, if you have any questions you can email us directly at hello@askthepilots.com or you can now also chat to our pilot chatbots, Charlie and Chuck. Just click the Facebook Messenger link below.


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