Flight delays & cancellations can be extremely frustrating. What I find more frustrating is that most people aren’t aware of their legal rights and entitlements when their flight Is delayed or cancelled, so I want to break it down for you in simplified form;
What’s EU261? Quite simply it’s a law, entitling passengers to a set amount of compensation is a flight is delayed or cancelled and it’s the airlines fault (we’ll touch on this later).
The triggers for the payment are as follows
Unsure how long your flight is? Find out here
To be eligible, your flight has to be any EU or UK regulated flight. Even if you flew from France to America on Air France and were a UK citizen, you’d still be able to claim.
The airlines fault;
Airlines will usually try and wriggle out of paying flight delay compensation and unfortunately there are a few grey areas here, however some hard and fast rules when it comes to what is the airline fault;
Airlines Fault & Claimable;
- Crew Shortage/Issues/Sickness
- Strikes by airline staff
- Technical issue with aircraft
What’s considered out of the airlines control & not claimable;
- ATC Strikes/Failures (damn!)
- “Extraordinary circumstances” – Broad one I know, but this covers delays due to adverse weather, airport security issues, natural disasters
- Military unrest
- Hidden manufacturing defects
- Medical emergency
Always ask the reason for the delay if you’re unsure.
How to claim EU261;
- Most airlines will have an online form to claim for this; we’ve linked the main ones below. This is your best bet.
- If they don’t, you can write them a letter. Use this free resolver tool which will construct and send the letter for you.
- Failing that, if you’re ultra short on time and happy to pay for it, there are plenty of EU261 claim websites on google. Just be warned they’ll usually take quite a healthy cut of your compensation for their troubles! (25%+)
Aswell as the Eu261 claim, you are often entitled to claim expenses for things that aren’t covered on the day by the airline.
It’s essentially to re-imburse you for any reasonable costs incurred as a result of the disruption. No it definitely won’t cover you going to buy a new Ipod in the airport to entertain you during the delay, but you may be surprised as what the airline will pay out for.
If delayed overnight, the airline should provide accommodation. If they can’t, you should be able to get your own and claim this as an expense. Your entitled to food & drink vouchers if delayed more than 2 hours short haul, or 3 hours medium haul. Again, if not provided, buy your own and claim.
This is definitely airline & situation specific. An example from this year; my flight from Paris to London got cancelled. The airline had no spare seats for the rest of the day so I paid for a Eurostar ticket as had to be home that day. I then claimed this as expenses, along with the taxi ride to the train station from the airport, and the airline re-inbursed me after I claimed online. (Aswell as this I got the Eu261 claim compensation paid).
Another example of great customer service was with Virgin airlines a few years ago. The flight got overnight delayed due to a tech fault. It meant I missed a music gig I was coming back to see. I claimed for the cost of the tickets to the gig aswell as my eu261 flight delay compensation and got both paid to me.
How to claim flight delay expenses;
These are done directly with the airline. Most airlines websites will have a specific area to claim. See our tables below for links to claims pages
If your flight is cancelled by the airline, you are entitled to the option of an alternative flight, or a full refund. Nowadays airlines offer this through their apps or online, but you should be able to sort this at the check in desk too.
One word of warning…..with certain airlines, if you accept a refund, your expenses may no longer be claimable. What I’d recommend is claiming expenses first. If they refuse to pay, then make do with the refund.
4) Travel Insurance
Finally, lots of people have travel cover but don’t use it when entitled to!
Even if you haven’t taken it out specifically for your trip, you may still have It through your bank or other means. Small print varies but often flight disruption is covered here. If you have expenses incurred due to disruption, you should also be entitled to claim with your travel insurance.
How to claim; Usually an online portal or over the phone, directly with your travel insurance provider. Be warned, the representative on the phone may sometimes try and inform you that you aren’t covered. It’s always worth reading the smallprint yourself. The last claim I was told on the phone I wasn’t covered due to XYZ. After reading the smallprint, I disagreed, so put the claim in online anyway. It was successfully approved 2 days later!
Links to common airline compensation/delay pages;
Hopefully the above summary helps if you’re in a tricky situation and just trying to get money back that you’re entitled to through flight delay compensation! Please comment or let us know if it help you, or if you have any suggestions.