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20 Jan 2020
Adam Bate

How to claim for flight delays



You’re ready to set off on your trip, scanning the screen to find your terminal number to be greeted with “flight delayed”. Those are the two words you don’t want to see when you’re about to embark on an adventure, or an important meeting you might be late for.

However, If you’re delayed for a prolonged period there may be a silver lining in the form of flight compensation.

Can I claim for a delayed flight?

There are flight delay rights in place for situations like these. Depending on the length of your delay you may be eligible to claim flight compensation, which means you won’t have to claim on your travel insurance.

If you’re travelling with an EU airline or from a European airport then, under EU law, the airline may be duty-bound to give you food and drink and provide accommodation if you’re delayed over 2 hours.

When can you claim for flight delays?

Claiming compensation for a delayed flight depends on the distance of the flight and the countries it’s flying between.

You may be able to claim for a flight delay if your journey falls under one of the following:

Flight distance Length of delay
Less than 1,500km 2 hours
Over 1,500km (within the EU) 3 hours
1,500km - 3,500km (between EU and non-EU countries) 3 hours
More than 3,500km (between EU and non-EU countries) 4 hours

Info from: citizens advice

If this doesn’t apply to your journey and you’re having problems getting compensation then it’s worth checking with your travel insurance provider to see if you can make a claim.

You’re entitled to get compensation if your flight is more than 3 hours late and the airline’s at fault. However, if the delay is out of the airline’s control you’re unlikely to receive compensation.

For example, according to European regulation EC 261/2004, you can’t claim if your flight delay was a result of an extraordinary circumstance, including:

  • Bad weather (thunderstorms, snow, high winds, heavy rain and thick fog)

  • Natural disasters (volcanic ash or hurricane for example)

  • Ill or disruptive passengers

  • Airport staff strikes

  • Bird strike (a collision between the aircraft and a bird or other foreign object)

  • Political circumstances (security risks, terror attacks)

If your flight is delayed for more than 5 hours you can choose not to travel and get a full refund instead.

The table below shows you the amount of flight delay compensation you may be eligible for depending on:

  • The flight distance

  • Length of the delay

  • If you’re flying to an EU or non-EU destination.

Compensation for a delayed flight

Delay Flight distance Compensation
3 hours+ Less than 1,500km €250
   Between 1,500km and 3,500km €400
   More than 1,500km, between an EU and non-EU airport €400
 3-4 hours More than 3,500km, between an EU and non-EU airport  €300
 4 hours+ More than 3,500km, between an EU and non-EU airport €600

How to claim compensation for a delayed flight

You need to contact the airline to claim for a delayed flight. Before you get in touch with the airline’s customer service department it’s helpful to get everything ready:

  1. Have your flight details to hand including booking reference numbers

  2. Prepare what you're going to say. Make it clear what went wrong and exactly what you want from the airline. If you’re unsure then a quick internet search could provide you with professional templates.

  3. Keep a copy of your claim and any messages from the airline in case there are any issues with your flight delay claim.

What to do if your flight is cancelled

If your flight is cancelled then you have the legal right to either a full refund or a replacement flight to your planned destination.

If you’re not having any luck then you can report the issue to the Civil Aviation Authority.

Will Brexit affect EU compensation rules?

The government has said that the same passenger rights will continue to apply once the UK leaves the EU set on 31 January, 2020. Therefore, flight delay compensation rules won’t change, regardless of whether we leave with or without a deal.


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