Back to All ArticlesBack to All Articles
AirHelp airport delays

4 types of delays that could translate into cash

AuthorThe AirHelper

We’ve all been at the airport, standing in line and waiting to board, when an airline attendant announces over the loudspeaker that your flight is delayed. While under most circumstances, you can do little about your situation, there are some occasions when the pain can be eased with the knowledge that you could be compensated for your troubles. Here are a few key scenarios when you might run into with a delayed flight and what you’re empowered to do about them.

Missing staff

Who says pilots and flight attendants are never late for work? Just as projects are held up at your own job because of missing staff members, the same holds true for airline staff. Pilots and flight attendants are humans, too. If they don’t show up on time, the airline will often wait for them to arrive or seek out an additional airline employee who can cover for them. This can be a time-consuming undertaking and can stop you from boarding your flight and taking off on-time.

While uncommon on the sliding scale of flight delays, missing staff can also add up to cause some of the most lengthy delays. Many pilots and airline attendants could be stuck in car traffic or delayed from previous connecting flights, which has the domino effect of them running late. This can stall the rest of the staff, the air traffic controllers’ schedules, and even the deliveries of food for other flights.

Find out the root cause of the delay. If any of these scenarios are true in your case, you could be eligible for money back under the European legislation, EC261. This is because the circumstances are within the airlines control–its flight staff should be able to report to duty on-time under reasonable conditions.

Mechanical problems

Equipment malfunctions are probably the most common cause of flight delays and span a range of mechanical issues including broken wing flaps or a cargo door that won’t latch. Many of these mechanical problems don’t take long to fix, but some take far longer than expected. You might find yourself spending hours in the airport, missing a connecting flight or worse depending on how long it takes to have them repaired.

Mechanical issues are the airline’s fault. Regular maintenance is a part of any transportation vehicle and airplanes are no different. If mechanical issues delay your flight by more than three hours then you could be getting some money back. This is especially true if you end up missing a connecting flight or the airline is unable to rebook you in a timely manner. Of course, this is only applicable if you are flying into or out of an EU member state on an EU carrier.


Even if you’ve ticked all the travel boxes, cross-checked all your documents and everything appears to be in order for your flight. Then you arrive at the airport to find yourself bumpedfrom your seat. You might wonder who these airlines think they are by overbooking flights and doubly selling seats.

Airlines often take care to book their flights as full as they possibly can – they are in the business of making money, after all. But that sometimes causes problems with customers who have missed a flight because of prior delays or problems with another aircraft. When this happens, the airline finds themselves in a situation with more passengers than seats.

There’s nothing you can do about this at the time and that is exactly what you should do – nothing. Airlines frequently request volunteers who are willing to hop on later flights. It’s best if you can avoid doing this because by accepting a voucher or alternate flight you are prohibiting yourself from receiving potential compensation later on down the line.

Late-arriving aircraft

Late-arriving aircraft account for almost 50% of delayed flights. A number of different problems can cause this, including security issues, missing passengers, heavy amounts of air traffic, and many more. Most the time, you won’t be aware that your flight is delayed t until after you have arrived at the airport (many airlines provide the option to send text or email messages to update you on flight status).

Again, while there is nothing you can do while en-route, you do have the opportunity to complain to the airline and request you be compensated for your troubles. If you’re delayed longer than three hours and happen to miss a connecting flight because of late-arriving aircraft, your case for a claim becomes even stronger. More often than not, these delays fall on the shoulders of the airline or air traffic controllers – you’ll never know until you ask.

How do you know if you are eligible for compensation?

Airlines aren’t exactly forthright about the circumstances when you could be entitled to compensation. Most passengers do not know their rights and what exactly they are owed. Some of the information might be available on the airline’s website, but it can be hidden and not easily found by passengers. Some airlines even ignore direct requests for compensation.

You might be entitled to a number of things depending on the length of your flight delay and the total distance you traveled during your trip. While there are some circumstances where the airline has no control over delays (such as extreme weather conditions, terrorist attacks, or airport strikes), if your trip falls amongst these scenarios then it is very likely you could be owed.


travel industry ebook cover

Get the industry report

The air travel industry hit some highs and lows last year. Check out how it impacted passengers.

Get paid for your delayed, canceled or overbooked flight from the last three years.

Check your flight

It only takes 3 minutes