Cancelled flight

How to get compensation for a cancelled flight

Susan, Raymond and their three children were travelling home from Thailand. Their flight was cancelled due to problems with the fuel pump and the airline offered hotel accommodation until the following day.

If your flight is cancelled, you may be entitled to a compensation of up to €600. Whether or not you can claim compensation depends on the reason for the flight cancellation and how long in advance the cancelled flight was announced by the airline.

What flights are covered by EU Regulation 261/04?

All flights within the European Union are naturally covered by the EU Regulation and the UK law, but in addition, several other countries with ties to Europe are also covered. This means that you can claim compensation for cancelled flights to or from Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Guadeloupe, Réunion, Saint-Martin, Madeira and the Azores as well as the Canary Islands.

Many international flights are also covered but only in cases where the flight departs from an EU airport. If your journey started at an airport outside the EU, but the final destination was an EU airport, you may be entitled to compensation if the flight is operated by an EU airline based in Europe. Confused? Don’t worry. The easiest way to find out if you are eligible for compensation is to try our free compensation calculator.

When is a cancelled flight covered by the EU-regulation?

If the flight cancellation was notified at least 14 days before departure, you are not entitled to compensation.

However, you may be eligible for compensation if the airline announces the cancelled flight less than 14 days before departure and you arrive at your final destination more than 4 hours later than expected. Or, if the airline reports the cancellation less than 7 days before departure and you arrive at your final destination later than 2 hours after the expected arrival time.

Be aware that you are not entitled to compensation for cancelled flights when you arrive at your final destination less than 2 hours later than the original time of arrival. The actual time of arrival is referred to as the moment the aircraft has landed, the doors are opened, and passengers have been allowed to leave the aircraft.

Have you been rebooked for a new departure?

If an airline cancels your original flight, the airline must offer you the choice between a full refund for the ticket or to be rebooked on a replacement flight departing as soon as possible. If you have accepted a re-booking for a new departure, you may still be entitled to compensation if you are sufficiently late. However, be aware that in some cases the airline may halve your compensation.

In case your flight gets redirected and you arrive within the following timeframes, the airline can reduce your compensation by 50%:

  • Less than 2 hours after expected time of arrival on a short flight of up to 1,500 km
  • Less than 3 hours after expected time of arrival on a flight of 1,500 - 3,500 km or within the EU
  • Less than 4 hours after expected time of arrival on a flight of more than 3,500 km outside of the EU

In addition to the financial compensation, you may also be entitled to further assistance during the delay. This includes meals and refreshments, two phone calls or e-mails, and accommodation and transport to the hotel if this becomes necessary. Airlines only pay reasonable expenses, so you're unlikely to get money back on purchases like alcohol, expensive meals or luxury hotels. You can include the collected receipts in your compensation claim. We are happy to help you get compensation for your extra expenses.

Was your flight cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances?

Extraordinary circumstances are not covered by the EU regulation. This means that the airline can avoid liability if the delay is due to circumstances beyond the airline's control. Unusual circumstances may include:

  • Natural disasters
  • Unusual weather conditions
  • Political instability
  • Acute illness among passengers
  • Strike among airport staff

It is important to note that in some cases airlines reject compensation claims on the grounds of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ (e.g. bad weather), even though the real reason for the cancelled flight is not extraordinary.

Not sure whether your flight was cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances?

Are you in doubt as to whether your flight was cancelled due to an extraordinary circumstance? When you file your claim with us, we will use your flight details to investigate the reason for your cancelled flight. Within 2-4 business days you will know whether we can assist you with your claim and how much you are entitled to in compensation.

We often find that the real reason for cancelling a flight is not extraordinary. Instead, the reason is likely to be technical faults or problems with the aircraft, missing crew or quite simply that the aircraft has not arrived in time! In such cases you will most likely have to wait for an alternative flight. Why not spend that time filing your claim for compensation?

How much can I get in compensation?

The compensation rates are fixed and ranges between €250 - €600 per passenger. The compensation amount is determined by the length of your flight and the length of your delay. You can read more about the compensation rates in our section on compensation.

If you are unsure how much you are entitled to, you can easily check your flight cancellation compensation with our free online compensation calculator.

We are here to help

Keep in mind that we are here to help, no matter if you are dealing with a flight cancellation, a delayed flight or some other air traffic irregularity. Flight delays and cancellations, missed connecting flights and denied boarding all fall within our area of expertise and our legal experts stand by to assist you.

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How do I claim compensation for a cancelled flight?

  1. Check if you are eligible for compensation based on your flight’s circumstances.
  2. Collect all the documentation: booking details, boarding passes, receipts, and any communication with the airline.
  3. Familiarize yourself with the passenger rights and compensation regulations in your region.
  4. Reach out to the airline that canceled your flight. Explain the situation and request the compensation you are entitled to.
  5. Submit a claim form providing accurate information and attache the required documents.
  6. Keep records of your communication with the airline, such as email correspondence or reference numbers, for reference.
  7. If the airline does not respond or denies your claim without a valid reason, you may need to escalate the matter and bring the case all the way to court.

File your claim with us. The airlines often complicate the process of claiming compensation for passengers. Our many years of experience and cooperation with some of the best lawyers are some of the reasons why we win more than 99% of our court cases!

Ticket refunds or replacement flights: what to expect?

When faced with flight cancellations, passengers are generally entitled to two main options: ticket refunds or replacement flights. Here's what you can expect in each case:

  • Ticket refunds:
  • If your flight is canceled, air passenger rights allow you to request a refund for the fare you paid for the canceled flight. The refund should cover the full ticket price, including any taxes and fees. It's important to note that the refund may take some time to process, so you might need to be patient in receiving your money back.
  • Replacement flights (rerouting):
  • Instead of a refund, you can choose a rerouting to your destination as close to your original schedule as possible. You shouldn't have to pay more for a new ticket. If the new flight is not convenient for you or if it doesn't suit your schedule, you can discuss alternative options with the airline, such as selecting a different time or airport if available.

Why do airlines offer vouchers instead of cash for compensation?

Airlines often provide flight vouchers instead of cash refunds as a cost-saving measure during challenging times. These vouchers can be appealing to air passengers because they offer potential savings on future travel with the same airline or partner air carriers.

Passengers are not obligated to accept travel vouchers over cash refunds in the event of flight delay or cancellations. If your flight was cancelled, you have a right to get a full refund.

What happens if your flight is canceled on a package holiday?

If your flight gets canceled and you've reserved a package holiday, you possess the same entitlements as any other traveler when it comes to rebooking, reimbursements, and potential compensation from the airline depending on distance. However, you also enjoy additional privileges concerning the remainder of your vacation.

Ordinarily, your travel agency will reach out to you in advance to reschedule your flights. If you find yourself at the airport when the flight is canceled, it's advisable to get in touch with your travel agent to discuss your available choices.

Some travel insurance policies cover flight delays and cancellations that may affect your travel plans. If your flight-related inconveniences are covered, contact your insurance company first.

How Long Are Compensation Claims Valid?

Compensation claims for cancelled flights are valid for up to:

  • 6 years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland
  • 5 years in Scotland
  • 3 years in EU countries

from the date of the cancelled flight.

Just ensure that you have all the necessary documents in order and start the process as soon as you can. It's important to keep your records well-organized during this period.

How is flight cancellation compensation calculated?

When it comes to getting compensation for a cancelled flight, there are certain factors that are taken into consideration. These factors include the distance of your flight, how long the delay was, and the policies of the airline you were flying with. By understanding these factors, you can navigate the process more effectively and ensure that you receive fair compensation for any inconvenience caused by the cancellation of your flight. You can read more about compensation calculations here.

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