What happens to my hotel booking if my flight gets canceled?

What happens to my hotel booking if my flight gets canceled?

By Jaqueline Junginger・Last updated on 14 June 2024

So you’re all packed and can’t wait to check into that beautiful hotel room you booked. But then you find out that your flight’s been canceled and your replacement flight leaves the next day — what now? What happens to your booking?

We’re here to break it down for you.

If my flight is canceled, what happens to my hotel?

It all depends whether you have a flexible or non-refundable booking.

Flexible bookings

Paying an extra fee will allow you to cancel or modify your stay in case there’s a change in your travel itinerary. These flexible bookings give you the option to change your check-in date or even cancel altogether. Depending on the hotels’ terms and conditions, you’ll receive either a full or partial refund.

Hotels can have very varied policies for flexible bookings — some allow free cancellations or changes up to 24 hours before check in, while others will give you up to 48 hours. There are also hotels that only allow cancellations until a set date of their choosing. For example, some will allow free cancellations up to 14 days before you arrive, after which it will switch to a non-refundable booking.

So if your flight is delayed or canceled, and you have a flexible booking, call your hotel as soon as possible so as not to miss your cancellation window. However, if you do, you’re out of luck — the hotel has the right to keep your money.

Non-refundable bookings

On the other hand, non-refundable bookings require you to pay for your entire stay upfront, with no chance of getting a refund if something goes wrong. They are cheaper than flexible bookings, which is why they’re a popular option. However, if a delayed flight causes you to miss your check-in date, the hotel reserves the right to both keep your money and to give your room to someone else. Some hotels may also charge a no-show fee.

If your flight is delayed, contact the hotel right away. Depending on their policy, they may choose to hold your room until you arrive, but you will likely not get any money back on the days you weren’t able to make use of the room.

Can I get a hotel refund for special cases?

If you can’t get a hotel refund for a canceled flight, are there any other situations where you can get refunded? Well, there are a few special cases where a hotel may make an exception, but it’s entirely at their discretion and there’s no guarantee you’ll get your money back.


If you experience a death in the family, some hotels will be understanding and refund your money if you explain the situation. However, there may be some protocols you’ll need to follow before they decide to do so — this often includes providing proof such as funeral arrangements or a death certificate.


If you get seriously ill or injured, a hotel may offer you a refund if they are sympathetic to your situation. However, hotel managers can have very different views on what constitutes a serious illness or injury, and may decide against giving you a refund. But if they are willing to consider it, they may ask for proof, such as a letter from your doctor or confirmation that you’ve been hospitalized.

False advertisement

In some cases you can also get a refund if you can prove there was some sort of misadvertisement. For example, let’s say you booked a room that promised a great view of the mountains, only to find that your window is actually facing the wall of the building next door. You’ll need to take photos and provide proof of the discrepancies between the listing and your actual room to make your case. The hotel may choose to refund you or offer you another room. But in cases where they refuse, you may need to escalate the complaint to hotel management or your booking platform.

What about travel insurance?

When you have travel insurance, it’s not the hotel that refunds you. Instead, the insurance company is the one that reimburses your costs.

Insurance companies have varied policies, but if your plan includes hotel protection, you can get reimbursed if your case meets requirements. For example, many travel insurance policies provide coverage for cases such as illness, a death in the family, changes in circumstances such an event being canceled, and yes, even flight delays or cancellations.

Since every travel insurance policy is unique, make sure you understand what’s covered, what the limits of reimbursement are, and if there are any exclusions where you won’t get a payout.

Will my airline pay for my hotel if my flight is canceled?

So you might have heard that if your flight is canceled or severely delayed, the airline will pay for your hotel. Now this can cause a bit of confusion because it involves different laws and applies to two very different cases.

EC 261 and ANAC 400

When your flight is canceled or delayed, regulation EC 261, which applies in Europe, and ANAC 400, which applies in Brazil, give you the right to care. This means that if there is a flight disruption, airlines are required to provide you with free food, communication, and in the case of overnight delays, free accommodation. This does not include the hotel you booked for your trip!

These laws require airlines to provide you with a free hotel and transfers to and from the airport while you wait for your replacement flight. In many cases, the airline will choose the hotel for you and it will usually be one that’s close to the airport so that you can catch your flight as soon as it becomes available.

You’ll still need to call your hotel personally to explain the situation to them.

Montreal Convention

For international flights, there is another law called the Montreal Convention, or MC99. In article 19 of the MC99, airlines are liable for damages resulting from delays affecting international journeys, which can also include hotel accommodation costs. This means that the airline will reimburse you for your lost hotel booking, though there are limits to how much you can claim back — it’s all determined on a case-by-case basis and varies greatly depending on your situation, though it’s usually in a range of up to US$7,000.

To qualify for a reimbursement under MC99, you will need to provide proof of your flight disruption, receipts, and your hotel booking confirmation. You must also not have received any hotel refunds or insurance payouts as MC99 only handles cases where you’ve actually lost money.

On top of everything, airlines will only pay if they are responsible for the delay — if they can prove that your flight disruption was out of their control and took reasonable measures to avoid it, then they are not obligated to.

Always prepare for flight disruptions

When your flight is canceled, the fate of your hotel booking hinges on how much preparations you’ve already made beforehand. Having a flexible booking allows you to reschedule or cancel, often with a refund, while non-refundable bookings do not. A good travel insurance policy can help you recoup some of your money. And if you don’t have either, you can still get reimbursed via MC99, but only if the airline was at fault.

Always weigh up the risks and check what your options are. That way, you can minimize losing money on hotel bookings after a flight delay.

Want a fast €100 next time your flight’s delayed or canceled? AirHelp+ membership gets you fast payouts, 100% of up to €600 compensation and lounge access when your flight’s disrupted. Explore More.

85% of passengers don't know their rights. Don't be one of them.

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest advice and tips delivered straight to your inbox.

Share it with your friends!

AirHelp has been featured in:

The Mirror logoThe Express logoThe Daily Mail logoUK Business Insider logo

AirHelp is a part of the Association of Passenger Rights Advocates (APRA) whose mission is to promote and protect passengers’ rights.


Copyright © 2024 AirHelp

Check Compensation

All airlines