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Flight Delay Compensation: 4 Things You Should Know

Flight delay compensation – are you entitled?

Air travel is not always the smooth-sailing experience we’d like. Unfortunately, flight delays happen. If you’ve been on a delayed flight, you may be able to claim up to £510 (€600) flight delay compensation under a European law called EC 261.

Read on to learn about your air passenger rights and how to make a delayed flight claim when your flight’s delayed.

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Delayed Flight? You may be entitled to as much as £510 in compensation Check Compensation

At AirHelp we think that if you’re stuck and inconvenienced at an airport due to a fault of the airline, you shouldn’t be the one out of pocket. That’s why we’re on a mission to help air passengers. Both by educating passengers on the rights in case they are entitled of a flight delay compensation, and building technology to make claiming easier.

1. What are the Regulations on Delayed Flights?

Flight Delay Regulations in Europe: EC 261

If your delayed flight was into or out of Europe, you could be entitled to up to £510 in flight delay compensation. That’s because Europe has strong regulations on passenger rights.

EU law EC 261 says you can file a delayed flight claim for cash compensation if…

  • You arrive at your destination more than three hours later than planned.

  • You have checked in for your flight on time (generally no less than 45 minutes before departure).

  • You encountered these problems on a flight operated no more than three years ago.

  • The airline is responsible for the delay (e.g. operational circumstances and technical difficulties).

  • The flight took off in the EU (from any airline) or landed in the EU (provided that the airline is headquartered in the EU).

  • It doesn’t matter whether the airline has already provided you with food, refreshment or travel vouchers.


What are Delayed Flight Rights for UK Citizens?

No matter where you live, if you’re flying from a European airport, or flying into Europe on a European airline, you can make a delayed flight claim for flight delay under EC 261. This chart makes it clear:

Itinerary EU Air Carrier Non-EU Air Carrier
From inside the EU to inside the EU check icon Covered check icon Covered
From inside the EU to outside the EU check icon Covered check icon Covered
From outside the EU to inside the EU check icon Covered close icon Not Covered
From outside the EU to outside the EU close icon Not Covered close icon Not Covered

Flight Delay Compensation — What About Brexit?

The UK’s flight delay rules fall under the regulations for flight delay compensation. Consequently, they apply until the UK officially leaves the union.

Time will tell what impact Brexit will have on air passenger rights. Like much in the Brexit negotiations, the effects are not currently clear. You can read our blog to learn about the possible effects of Brexit on air passenger rights.

But until the UK leaves the EU, the EC 261 regulations stated above are the current law.

Global Regulations on Delayed Flights: What is The Montreal Convention?

120 nations, including the USA, are signed up to the 2003 Montreal Convention. This sets out air passenger rights for several types of flight disruption, including flight delays.

The convention addresses “damages” resulting from flight disruption. An example is financial damages. If your delayed flight meant you had to pay for an additional night in a hotel, you should be reimbursed for this. You can read more about the Montreal Convention here.

2. Compensation for Flight Delay

Delayed Flight Compensation EU – How Much are You Owed when your Flight is Delayed?

For flights covered by EU law EC 261, any flight delayed for longer than three hours entitles you to financial compensation.

The amount of Europe flight delay compensation you’re entitled to depends on a couple of factors, including how long you have been delayed, and the distance of your flight. This chart breaks down how much you’re owed for delayed flight compensation EU:

 

Less than 3 hours 3 – 4 hours More than 4 hours Never arrived Distance
close icon £ – check icon £210 check icon £210 check icon £210 All flights 1,500 km or less
close icon £ – check icon £340 check icon £340 check icon £340 Internal EU flights over 1,500 km
close icon £ – check icon £340 check icon £340 check icon £340 Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km
close icon £ – check icon £255 check icon £510 check icon £510 Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 km
Calculate your compensation for delayed flights for free! Calculate and Claim Compensation

Flight Delay Compensation – How Flight Delay is Calculated?

Flight delay is based on the time you arrive at your final destination. This is important because even if your flight takes off late, the airline may still be able to make up time in the air.

But what exactly is a flight’s “arrival time”?

In September 2014, the European Court of Justice (case C-425/13) defined “arrival time” to be the moment at which the aircraft has reached its final destination and one of its doors is open.

This is based on the assumption that, at that moment, the passengers are permitted to leave the aircraft.

This can sometimes be a difference of 15 minutes or more from the time you landed, so it’s important to be precise if you are claiming for your flight delay.

How long can a flight be delayed without compensation? Three full hours.

Flight Delay Compensation – Compensation for Business Travellers and Public Officials

Many people think that their employer will be entitled to any compensation for a delay during a business trip but thats not the case.

In fact, it is the passenger who has suffered the inconvenience that is entitled to flight delay compensation, not the person who paid for the ticket.

This is the general principle set out in the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation for major flight delays, cancellations and cases of overbooking. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an employee of a private-sector company or a public official.

Right to Care: Food, Refreshments and Accommodation

When you’re stuck waiting for the airline to get you back on track toward your destination, European law EC 261 says you’re entitled to a number essentials, 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, telex or fax messages, and emails.

If overnight accommodation is necessary, they must provide you with a hotel room, and transportation to and from the airport.

Other Rights that come with EC 261

Right to reimbursement or re-routing

In addition to compensation for your loss of time, if your delay exceeds five hours, you are entitled to a full or partial refund of your original ticket and a return flight to your point of departure, if needed.

Upgrading and downgrading

If you are offered an alternative flight and are lucky enough to get an upgrade, the airline isn’t allowed to charge you anything extra. 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.

Further compensation

Even if you are compensated under EC 261, this doesn’t affect your right to request further compensation.

This rule doesn’t apply in cases where passengers have voluntarily surrendered their reservations. But bear in mind that the amount you are entitled to under EC 261 may be deducted from whatever additional compensation you receive.

Obligation to Inform Passengers of their Rights

Airlines are obliged to inform passengers about their rights and the content of EC 261. This means that every airline has to display information on passenger’s rights at check-in counters.

You can find the full text of the regulation on this link.

Easy, fast and efficient

Thanks to AirHelp I was able to recover money due to a flight delay. The entire process was easy and pretty fast, considering that I received the money in my bank account in less than 1 month.

- Marco Fortino

Cash Compensation or Flight Vouchers

When your flight is delayed, your airline may offer you compensation in the form of flight vouchers. Of course when you’re tired and frustrated and someone is offering you a voucher for a new flight, it’s very hard to say ‘no’.

However, you should check that by accepting a voucher, you’re not waiving your right to claim for the compensation you’re legally entitled to. EU regulations clearly state that compensation should be paid in cash, electronic transfer or checks, unless the passenger chooses to accept travel vouchers instead.

Essentially, it’s your choice as to whether to accept the vouchers or not. The data says that most people do.

But you must remember that it’s worth finding out what you might be entitled to if you refuse the airline’s offer and insist on cash instead.

Most people don’t know their rights on what compensation they’re owed. We surveyed European air travellers and found that 85% don’t know their rights, and globally 13 million passengers do not receive the compensation they are entitled to.

Submit your delayed flight claim with AirHelp Check Compensation

3. Which Delayed Flights are Covered?

Delayed Flight Claim – Are All Delayed Flights Covered by EC 261?

Almost all routes within Europe are covered.

This includes not only EU airspace, but also Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the so-called “outermost-regions” (French Guiana and Martinique, Guadeloupe and La Réunion, Saint-Martin, Madeira, the Azores, and the Canary Islands).

A common misconception is that EC 261 only applies to flights within Europe, but that’s not the case.

If your flight departs from any airport in the EU, you are able to make a delayed flight claim. You are also covered if your flight departs from outside the EU but is with an EU airline.

With AirHelp, it’s simple. Check Compensation

Airlines Do Not Have to Pay Compensation in “Extraordinary Circumstances”

The regulations in EC 261 state that an airline can avoid liability if the delay is caused by “extraordinary circumstances”.

These include situations like lightning strikes, medical emergencies, air traffic control strikes, serious adverse weather conditions, airport employee strikes or air traffic control strikes, 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 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 European Court of Justice made a ruling stating that internal ‘wildcat strikes’ by flight staff do not constitute extraordinary circumstances.

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

If You Miss a Connecting Flight Because of Flight Delay

With travellers flying further afield than ever, it’s not unusual for a flight to have one (or more) stops, or connections, on the way.
And if any one of those flights are delayed it can cause you to miss your connection and throw the whole journey into chaos.

Firstly, if you do miss a connection because of a delayed flight, it is the airline’s responsibility to find you a replacement to the final destination on your ticket.

In addition you could be entitled to compensation under European laws. If the time you arrive at your final destination is over three hours later than your original flight, you could claim up to £510.

It’s important that your flights are booked together and part of the same journey. If you booked your own onward flight separately, that would not be covered.

You can read a lot more information on our missed connection advice page.

If your flight was delayed, cancelled or overbooked within the last 3 years, you could be eligible for up to £510 in compensation. Check Compensation

4. How to File a Claim for Flight Delay

What to Do When Your Flight is Delayed

If you’ve just found out your flight is delayed, don’t stress, follow our easy step-by-step guide on how to make the best out of the situation.

  • Hold onto your boarding pass and all other travel documents
.
  • Ask why the flight was delayed.

  • Gather proof of the delay, for example photos of the departure board or communications from the airline confirming the disruption.
  • 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.

  • Choose to wait it out or call it off if your delay is more than five hours.

  • If needed, get the airline to provide you with a hotel room.

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


Flight Delayed Compensation – How to Claim Flight Delay Compensation with AirHelp

We understand that many air passengers do not have the time, experience or inclination to fight with airlines in order to make a delayed flight claim for the compensation they’re owed.

AirHelp is able to submit claims on passengers’ behalf:

  • We'll tell you quickly if we think you are eligible for compensation.
  • We'll handle all communication with the airline.
  • There's no risk, we only charge a fee when we're successful in getting your compensation.
Have AirHelp Claim Your Compensation Submit Your Claim Now

Amazing fast service.
Did not know we were entitled to a payment until my daughter told me about Airhelp, Sent in the application received payment within three weeks.
Highly recommended.

- Anton

Documents You Need to Claim Flight Delay Compensation

Airlines have different procedures and required documents in order to make a delayed flight claim. The best advice is to hold on to all documents if your flight is delayed.

One of the advantages of filing a claim with AirHelp, is we know exactly what each airline will require. We’ll help you to find the right documents when you kick off your claim.

If you’re going to file directly with an airline, you can expect some pushback. Even with EC 261 on your side, they might not be enthusiastic – or quick – about paying you. To give your claim the best chance of succeeding, make sure you gather together all the documentation you can.

Tools to Help You Claim for Flight Delay

Online eligibility checker
With a few clicks of your finger, you can transform your delayed or cancelled flight into a reimbursement claim.

After you have gone through our eligibility checklist and qualify to seek compensation, the good news is you can make a delayed flight claim.

AirHelp app

We understand how frustrating it is to suffer a flight delay or cancellation and our app delivers real-time flight compensation eligibility decisions.

Boarding pass scanner

There is no need to manually enter or remember your flight details or booking numbers—just scan the barcode on your boarding pass. After this, our compensation calculator takes care of everything.

Free trip delay compensation checker

Our free trip delay compensation checker makes it quick and simple to find out if you’re eligible to make a compensation claim.

Using the online boarding pass scanner, you are able to check your trip delay compensation eligibility instantly.

After you enter your flight details into our free compensation checker, within seconds you are notified if you are eligible or not to make a claim for your delayed, cancelled or overbooked flight.

How Can AirHelp Help?

How AirHelp Can Enforce Your Rights

  • 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 get up to £510 in compensation.

  • 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.


AirHelp’s Impact on Flight Delay Compensation Claims

In 2012, a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice declared that passengers were entitled to compensation for long delays, as long as certain conditions were met.

Following on from that ruling, the floodgates opened for flight delay compensation claims to be made by disgruntled passengers.

AirHelp’s team strives to ensure that passengers are relieved from the stress of making a claim.

We take on the responsibility of enforcing your right to compensation from the airline.

To date, we have helped over 10 million passengers process airline compensation claims.

I’m stranded on the tarmac – what should I do?

It’s important to take note of the time when the plane doors are closed. Then, if the wait feels like it’s getting a bit longer than normal, you can measure how much time you’ve been sitting on the tarmac.

If the wait is too long, there’s something you can do.

European tarmac delays are eligible for compensation just the same way a flight delay is eligible for compensation in Europe. However, if you’re not someone who likes sitting on a busy plane for longer than necessary, it’s a bad situation.

While supplying air conditioning, access to lavatories and water is mandatory, the law doesn’t require giving passengers the option to deplane until the tarmac delay reaches five hours.

Common questions about delay compensation

Can I claim for a delayed flight?

Yes, if your flight meets some basic criteria you may be able to claim delayed flight compensation under air passenger rights laws in the EU or Brazil.

To answer the question, “can you claim for delayed flights?” in the EU, check if:

  • You had a flight departing from an EU airport, or arriving at an EU airport on an EU airline.
  • You arrived late by 3 or more hours at your destination.
  • The delay was not caused by a circumstance outside of the airline’s control.

Can you claim for a 1-hour flight delay?

Unfortunately, no, you can’t claim compensation for a 1-hour flight delay. In the EU a flight delay becomes eligible for compensation after 3 hours, and in Brazil, after 4.

While a 1-hour flight delay can still be stressful and frustrating, air passenger rights laws don’t see the delay time as being long enough to greatly alter your plans or cause undue levels of emotional stress.

Can you claim for flight delays outside the EU?

Yes, you can — but things do get a little more complicated once you’re flying outside the EU.

The number 1 thing to know is that flights leaving Europe for other parts of the world are also covered by Regulation EC 261, offering passengers the same protection they have when flying within the EU. This also applies to flights flying into the EU that are operated by an airline that is headquartered in the EU.

While there are laws and regulations surrounding air passenger rights in the rest of the world, none are as comprehensive as EC 261, although Brazil comes a close second — if you’ve experienced a delay flying into, out of or within Brazil you could be owed compensation.

Can I claim for a delayed flight due to weather?

Yes, you can always try to claim compensation for delayed flights, but it gets complicated when it comes to bad weather.

When asking – can you claim compensation for delayed flights due to weather? The biggest thing to be aware of is that most flight delays caused by bad weather are seen as extraordinary circumstances. Meaning, when something outside the airline’s control (in this case, the weather) causes a delay — by law, the airline is not held accountable for it — especially if the decision to delay the flight is to protect the safety of the passengers and crew. But there are times you should be compensated for a weather-related delay.

It’s important to note that if bad weather conditions are expected (e.g. a cold country should anticipate snow in winter) airlines should make plans that allow them to take off in good time. If your airline didn’t but others did, you could be owed compensation.

There are plenty of questions that come up about bad weather, like “Will rain delay a flight?”, “Do flights get delayed for storms?”, and “Do flights get delayed for snow?“. That’s why it’s best to look at each case individually.

Can I get compensation for a delayed flight?

Yes. When people ask “Can I claim compensation for a delayed flight?”, the easy answer is – Yes, you can – but, of course, there are certain criteria that must be met.

It all depends on how late you arrived at your final destination and also where you were flying. In the EU you can claim compensation for flights delayed by 3 hours or more. In Brazil, it’s 4. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t have such strong air passenger rights laws

So, how can you get compensation if your flight is delayed? There are generally 3 ways:

  • You can approach the airline directly (although they often try to slow things down)
  • Use a 3rd party provider to negotiate for you (cost-effective and stress-free)
  • Seek legal counsel (this can get expensive)

With all the rules and regulations in place it can get quite confusing. You can use our free Compensation Check tool to see if you are eligible.

Can I get money back for a delayed flight?

Yes, in many cases you can get money back for a delayed flight in the way of compensation. So, how do you get money if your flight is delayed? Air passenger rights laws in both Europe and Brazil state that you are owed compensation once you have met certain criteria.

In Europe these include:

  • Your flight took off from an EU airport, or arrived at an EU airport on an EU carrier.
  • Your delay meant you arrived late at your destination late by 3+ hours.
  • The delay was not caused by a circumstance outside of the airline’s control.

In Brazil, a flight delay becomes eligible for compensation after 4 hours, but there are many other rules that come into play — meaning it’s best to assess Brazilian flight delays on a case-by-case basis.

What counts as extraordinary circumstances for flight delays?

Extraordinary circumstances is a legal term for any situation or event that’s outside of the airline’s control.

Common examples that cause flight delays include bad weather conditions, such as storms, snow, or heavy fog, or disruptions caused by air traffic control or airport staff going on strike.

Less common occurrences — including natural disasters like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions, terrorist incidents, or even other unruly passengers — also count as extraordinary circumstances.

However, each situation must be considered on a case-by-case basis. For example, while a heavy snowstorm is often considered an extraordinary circumstance, at many airports snow is common in winter, and airlines should be prepared for it. If your plane was delayed by snow, while others made the necessary preparations to take off on time, we would argue that bad weather doesn’t count as an extraordinary circumstance in this case.

How long a flight delay before compensation?

Under EU law you can claim compensation for flights delayed by 3 hours or more.

In the EU, passengers are legally entitled to up to £510 compensation if they arrive over 3 hours late at their destination and the airline is responsible for the delay.

In other parts of the world the question of how long flight delay for compensation isn’t quite as clear cut. Under Brazillian law, we suggest claiming for compensation if your flight is delayed by 4 hours or more, or if the delay caused you a major inconvenience.

How much compensation for a delayed flight?

You can receive from €250 to €600 compensation for a delayed flight, under EU regulations.

In the EU, the amount of compensation is set by a Regulation called EC 261 and is based on the distance of your flight, whether you flew outside of the EU, and the length of your delay.

For flight delays in Brazil compensation amounts are not set, but, in previous cases, passengers have received up to R$5,000 in compensation.

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

How to claim for a delayed flight?

You need to be proactive to claim compensation for a delayed flight. You can contact the airline directly to argue your case, or you can use a specialist company like AirHelp to negotiate on your behalf.

Either way, if you’re wondering how do you claim for a delayed flight, you can start with our Compensation Check Tool, which will help you establish if you are owed compensation, as well as telling you how much.

How to claim flight delay compensation in India

Air passenger rights in India are not as comprehensive as elsewhere in the world — the good news is, no matter where in the world you are from, if you are flying to India from the EU, or from India to the EU on a European carrier you are covered by EU Regulation EC 261.

According to EC 261, flights delays that mean you get to your final destination 3 hours late or more qualify for compensation. That’s as long as the delay wasn’t due to circumstances outside the airline’s control.

If your flight delay fits the criteria above, you can contact the airline directly, or you can place a claim through a specialist company that will handle the negotiations and paperwork for you.

How to claim delayed flight compensation in the UK

After experiencing a flight delay in the UK it’s up to you to take the initiative and make a claim. You can choose to either contact the airline directly and try and negotiate with them or use a claim company such as AirHelp to handle the claim for you. Generally, flights that have been delayed by 3 hours or more qualify for compensation, provided that the disruption wasn’t caused by circumstances outside the airline’s control.

How to claim money back from delayed flights

Air passengers must make the first move when making a claim following a flight delay. How to claim money from a delayed flight is easy — you can either try and approach the airline directly or use a flight compensation claim company like AirHelp who’ll negotiate with the airline on your behalf.

What can I claim for a delayed flight?

You can claim cash compensation from an airline for delays of 3 hours or more, provided that they are legally considered at fault for the delay. Depending on the circumstances, you can get as much as €600 per person.

But what do I get if my flight is delayed but isn’t eligible for compensation? Well, if the delay was caused by events outside of the airline’s control, you are still entitled to food, drink, access to communication, and, if needed, a hotel and transportation to and from the airport.

When can you claim for flight delays?

Every time you experience a flight delay of more than 3 hours — but only if the delay wasn’t caused by circumstances outside of the airline’s control. Exactly when can you claim compensation for flight delays will depend on you — most people choose to make a claim within a week or so after flying. However, different countries have different time limits on how long you have to claim. On average, you can file a claim up to 3 years after your delay occurred.

Is flight delay compensation worth it?

Yes, getting compensation for flight delay is a simple process, though not always a quick one, as it could take weeks — or in some more unusual cases, years — before you can get your money. This is because airlines have to process thousands of cases at a time and if any legal disputes arise, the process may have to go to court and could take even longer. But whether you choose to go through the claim process alone or enlist the help of a specialist flight claim company like AirHelp, compensation is your right by law.