My flight’s been cancelled, what can I do?

All European airlines, and airlines with flights departing from Europe, have obligations under the EU’s Denied Boarding Regulations.

The airline must offer you the choice of a replacement flight at the earliest opportunity, or to refund the ticket price if the flight is cancelled.

If you choose the replacement flight, you’re entitled to meals and refreshments appropriate to the waiting time, plus two free phone calls, faxes or emails.

If the replacement flight departs the next day or later, the airline must also provide hotel accommodation and the necessary transfers.

If you have booked a package holiday, you are entitled to an alternative offered by your tour operator, if the tour operator is able to do so.

ABTA's advice

If this alternative is a significant change to your original holiday (generally a change of more than 12 hours on a 14-night holiday is considered to be a significant change) then the tour operator must also offer you the choice of a refund. This is a refund of the full package price, not just the flight part.

You should also contact your travel insurance provider to find out what cover is available under your policy with them.

Package holidays

If you booked your holiday before 1 July 2018

The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 define a 'package' as follows:

  • the holiday must cover a period of at least 24 hours or involve overnight accommodation
  • the holiday must consist of a combination of at least two of the following components:
    • transport (for example, flights, trains, coaches and ferries - free transfers from the airport to a hotel would not be included)
    • accommodation (this should be significant - it would include a berth on a cruise ship but not on a cross-channel ferry)
    • other tourist services that form a significant proportion of the package (for example, car hire)
  • the holiday must be sold at an inclusive price.

If you booked your holiday after 1 July 2018

The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018 define a 'package' as follows:

  • The holiday must cover a period of at least 24 hours or involve overnight accommodation

A package holiday is a combination of at least two different types of travel services, which are listed below: 

  • transport (such as a flight, coach or train but not transfers from an airport)
  • accommodation (such as a hotel, villa or apartment)
  • car rental 
  • a tourist service (such as a tour guide or a trip to a historical attraction) where this is a significant part of the holiday, either because of its value or because it is an essential part of the trip.

It counts as a package holiday if your travel company:

  • Has asked you to pay a single price through a single payment 
  • Has let you select a combination of services – such as a flight and accommodation – before you agreed to pay for them
  • Charged you an inclusive or total price for all the services you bought
  • Advertised or sold the travel services to you as a package or using a similar term
  • Sold you one travel service; and then transferred your details, including your payment details to another company, which you then booked another travel service through within the space of 24 hours.

Next steps

Visit the CAA website.

  • Flights