Flight Cancellations: AirHelp is The Best Claims Service in the World

Flight cancellation? Find out if you are entitled for cancelled flight compensation! Check for free with AirHelp if you are eligible to claim up to £520 cash compensation. It only takes a few minutes.

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What are flight cancellations?

Air travel is not always smooth and sometimes flight cancellations happen.

An airline can cancel a flight for a number of reasons. Sometimes, problems like bad weather or security risks can create a knock-on effect leading an airline to pull the plug on a flight.

Did you know that when an airline cancels your flight, you may be eligible to receive flight cancellation compensation?

Following Brexit, UK law was introduced to match EU regulation EC 261, meaning passengers have the right to be reimbursed for flight cancellations providing certain criteria are met.

If you qualify, an airline is legally required to pay you flight cancellation compensation of up to £520.

What count as flight cancellations?

Flight cancellation involves two parties, the airline and passenger.

The airline considers a flight as cancelled if the plane never left the tarmac. The relevant law defines a cancelled flight as,

“The non-operation of a flight which was previously planned and on which at least one place was reserved”.

As a passenger, for your flight to be deemed cancelled: you must have booked a ticket for the flight in question.

Remember that a flight that takes off late, i.e. a delayed flight, is not a cancelled flight.

Are you eligible to claim flight cancellation compensation?

Under the UK law introduced to match EC 261, you could be entitled to cancelled flight compensation if…

  • Your flight was going to take off in the UK or EU (flights to either also qualify in some cases).

  • You need to have a confirmed reservation shown by a booking reservation (with information like the flight number, name of passenger etc.) of the flight.

  • The airline notifies the passenger of the cancellation less than 14 days before the flight is set to depart

  • Your flight is cancelled by not-so-extraordinary circumstances like “technical difficulties” or “operational circumstances”. The courts have repeatedly stated that those don’t qualify as “extraordinary circumstances”, which means the airline must still oblige by their obligations and pay you flight cancellation compensation.

  • Under a recent ruling by the ECJ, which the UK has carried over in full, internal ‘wildcat strikes’ by flight staff do not constitute as ‘extraordinary circumstances’. Therefore, airlines must now compensate air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, when an airline strike is to blame.

Cancelled flights: under which circumstances are passengers not covered?

Advance warning

Providing the airline informed passengers of the flight cancellation 14 days or more in advance.

Extraordinary circumstances are not covered.

Passengers are not entitled to flight cancellation compensation if the delay is caused by “extraordinary circumstances”. This is because under the relevant law, the airline is not liable.

These include situations like lightning strikes, medical emergencies, airport employee strikes or air traffic control strikes, serious adverse weather conditions, air traffic control restrictions, sudden malfunctioning of the airport radar, acts of sabotage, political unrest, acts of terrorism… you get the idea.

Does snow count as a ‘serious adverse weather condition’?

It depends on whether or not the airline could have prevented the problem.

If, for example, the airline failed to ensure that there were sufficient supplies of de-icer before the onset of winter, it could be held responsible for the delay—especially if flights operated by other airlines were able to depart on time.

Airline strikes do not fall under extraordinary circumstances

In April 2018, the ECJ made a ruling whose example was followed when the UK drafted its own legislation. It stated that internal ‘wildcat strikes’ by flight staff do not constitute as ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

Therefore, airlines must now compensate air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, when an airline strike is to blame.

Free of charge

Passengers travelling free of charge (e.g. air hostess) or at a reduced fare not available directly, or indirectly to the public are not eligible to flight cancellation compensation.

Cancelled flights: Re-routing

Under EC 261 (and the so-called “UK 261” law that replaced it) all cancelled flights are covered apart from when the airline has given you 14 days’ notice. But there’s a catch.

If the airline offers to re-route you, it can avoid paying cancellation compensation if the following criteria are met:

Advance NoticeRe-routing Requirements
14 Days❌ None
7 - 13 Days✔️ Alternative flight departing no more than 2 hours before and arriving less than 4 hours after the original flight
Less than 7 Days✔️ Alternative flight departing no more than 1 hours before and arriving less than 2 hours after the original flight

If your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked within the last 3 years, you could be eligible for up to £520 in compensation.

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Flight cancellation rights: What are you entitled to if your flight is cancelled?

We’re glad you asked! We’ve included a few highlights below. According to UK law, in addition to flight cancelled compensation for your loss of time, you are entitled to either:

  • A full or partial refund of your original ticket and a return flight to your point of departure.

  • The earliest possible alternative transport to your final destination.

  • A new ticket to your final destination at a later date of your choosing, subject to availability.


You could be eligible for a flight cancellation claim as much as £520.

Reimbursement or rerouting + compensation

Due to the relevant law (dubbed “UK 261”) when a flight is cancelled, you should be offered the choice between:

Reimbursement within seven days of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought and, when relevant, a return flight to the first point of departure,


Re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity or rerouting, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date

What is the relation between right to compensation, reimbursement and rerouting?

Reimbursement or rerouting + compensation!


If the airline notifies you of the cancellation less than 14 days departure, you can be entitled to compensation.

Free perks

When you’re stuck waiting for the airline to get you back on track, you’re entitled to a number of free perks, depending on your flight details.

The carrier must provide you with meals and refreshments during the delay as well as access to communications, including two telephone calls, telefax or fax messages, and emails.

If you need overnight accommodation, they must provide you with a hotel room and transport to and from the airport.

Upgrading and downgrading

If you’re offered an alternative flight and are lucky enough to be placed in a higher class than the one you booked, the carrier cannot charge you any additional payment. On the other hand, if the class of the alternative flight is lower, you can get a reimbursement of between 30-75% of the price you originally paid.

How is flight cancellation compensation calculated?

The amount you receive for cancelled flight compensation depends on three factors; travel distance, whether or not your flight was within the UK or the EU and the length of the delay if you accept re-routing on another flight. It’s a bit complicated, but this should help:

Under 2 hours2 - 3 hours3 – 4 hoursMore than 4 hoursNever arrivedDistance
£110£220£220£220£220All flights 1,500 km or less
£175£175£350£350£350Flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km
£260£260£260£520£520Flights over 3,500 km

What it boils down to is that the compensation of your flight cancellation may be halved if the airline can offer you an alternative flight which gets you to your destination at a similar time to your original schedule.

Flights cancelled and entitled to a claim? Let AirHelp enforce your rights

Flight Cancelled Compensation UK – Why choose AirHelp?

  • AirHelp is the leading flight compensation company in the world, helping passengers understand their rights and get compensation for delayed or cancelled flights, and in instances of denied boarding.

  • AirHelp is the best-rated flight compensation company in the world with a 9.5 score on Trustpilot.

  • We have already helped more than 16 million passengers.

  • To avoid the burden of time and navigating the complex legal system.

  • Airlines may deny your initial claim or ignore your claim request entirely, our team tackle bureaucratic hurdles to get you the money you deserve.

Find out for free if you flight is eligible to compensation!

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Flights cancelled? Steps to take when your flight is cancelled

If you’re going to file a compensation claim under the so-called “UK 261”, you can expect some pushback from the airline. Just because the law is on your side doesn’t mean they are going to be enthusiastic – or swift – about paying you. If you’re travelling to or from the UK or the European Union, here’s what to do when your flight’s cancelled:

  • Hold onto your boarding pass and add any other travel documents.

  • Ask why the flight is cancelled.

  • Request an alternate flight to your destination or refund.

  • Make a note of the arrival time at your destination.

  • Ask the airline to pay for your meals and refreshments.

  • Don’t sign anything or accept any offers that may waive your rights.

  • Get the airline to provide you with a hotel room.

  • Keep your receipts if your cancelled flight ends up costing you extra money.

If your flight was delayed, cancelled or overbooked within the last 3 years, you could be eligible for up to £520 in compensation.

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Common questions about cancellation compensation

Am I due compensation for a cancelled flight?

Mostly, yes. Cancelled flights often qualify for compensation under Regulation EC 261 in Europe, the parallel law in the UK, and ANAC 400 in Brazil.

You might be owed cancelled flight compensation if:

  • Your replacement flight delays your arrival by 2 hours or more.

  • Your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before the departure date.

  • The cancellation was not due to a circumstance outside of the airline’s control.

Can I claim cancelled flight compensation if it was cancelled due to weather?

Although you can claim compensation for cancelled flights, it gets complicated in the case of bad weather.

In a nutshell, most flight cancellations caused by bad weather are considered to be extraordinary circumstances. This means that something outside the airline’s control (in this case, the weather) caused the cancellation, so the airline shouldn’t be held accountable for it — especially if the cancellation is to protect the safety of the passengers and crew.

However, if bad weather conditions were expected and other airlines made plans that allowed them to take off in due time while your flight was delayed for a long time, you could be owed compensation.

Is there a time limit to file my claim?

Your right to flight cancellation compensation does eventually expire. This varies from one country to the next and is determined by the law you're claiming under, where the headquarters of the airline is or what court has jurisdiction in cases concerning the airline.

How much cancelled flight compensation can I get?

You can get between £110 and £520 in compensation, depending on the distance of your scheduled flight, as well as the total delay at your final destination — if you got there at all.

The easiest way to check how much you’re owed is by using our Compensation Check Tool.

How do I claim compensation for a cancelled flight?

There are 3 ways to submit a claim to the airline and get your compensation:

  1. Use a specialist like AirHelp. We handle all the paperwork and negotiations, and we only charge a fee when we successfully get your compensation.

  2. Engage a solicitor to claim for you. However, this route can involve high upfront costs.

  3. Get in touch with the airline directly to argue your case yourself.

If you decide to proceed with AirHelp, our Compensation Check Tool will guide you through the process step-by-step, and do all of the follow-ups and communication with the airline for you.

Flight cancellations UK — how does Brexit affect my passenger rights?

Flight cancellation rights still apply to UK travellers and remain largely unchanged. Passengers departing from the UK, or arriving in the UK on a UK airline can claim up to £520 compensation for eligible flight cancellations.

As part of the process of leaving the EU, the UK introduced a new type of legislation known as “retained EU law”. Simply put, this meant there was a lot of EU law was adopted into UK law.

The new version of UK air passenger rights is sometimes referred to as “UK 261”, and as things stand, the law hasn’t changed much. However, as time goes by, the two laws are likely to diverge. This is because rulings made in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after 31 December 2020 will not apply to the UK law but only affect the EU.

Negotiating all these overlapping legal systems can be difficult for a passenger at the best of times. That’s why at AirHelp we try to make everything as simply and easy to understand as possible, and why we only charge a fee on successful claims.

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