My flight’s been delayed, what are my rights?
If your flight is delayed and you’re departing from the UK, you’re entitled to the rights outlined below, which includes refreshments from the airline appropriate to the length of the delay, and overnight accommodation if your flight is delayed until at least the next day. However, any additional expenses beyond this are your responsibility and you should check your travel insurance to find out what’s covered in your policy.
These rights also apply to your return flight, unless you’re flying from outside the UK or the EU – and with a non-UK and non-EU airline e.g. from New York to Glasgow with American Airlines. In those cases, you’ll need to check the terms and conditions of your booking to see what you’re entitled to.
Care and assistance
If your flight is delayed beyond its scheduled departure time by:
- two hours or more for flights of 1,500km or less (e.g. Glasgow to Amsterdam);
- three hours or more for flights between 1,500km and 3,500km (e.g. East Midlands to Marrakech);
- four hours or more for all other flights (e.g. London to New York).
- then you’re entitled to care and assistance while you wait. This usually means food, drink and access to communications (e.g. two free phone calls), plus accommodation and the necessary transfers if the flight is delayed until the next day or later.
Your airline may advise you to make alternative travel arrangements and then claim back the cost later. If you do this, keep receipts, noting that costs should be reasonable and alcohol will not be included.
If the delay exceeds five hours, your airline must offer you the choice of taking a refund of the flight cost.
If your flight is delayed and you’ve booked a package holiday, you benefit from all the above rights as well as additional protection for the rest of your holiday.
If the delay leads to your holiday being cancelled, or new arrangements are made that result in a significant change to your holiday, then your travel company must offer an alternative holiday if they can, or a refund of the full package price, not just the flight part. Generally, a change of more than 12 hours on a 14-night holiday is considered a significant change.
This depends on what caused the delay – if it wasn’t the airline’s fault, you won’t be entitled to receive any compensation. Delays caused by things like extreme weather, airport or air traffic control strikes or other ‘extraordinary circumstances’ are not eligible for compensation.
If you reach your final destination three hours or more after the original arrival time, and it wasn’t due to extraordinary circumstances, then you’re generally entitled to the following amounts of compensation, which will be awarded in pounds or euros depending on where your flight was due to depart from:
- £220 / €250 for flights of up to 1,500 km;
- £350 / €400 for flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km;
- £260 / €300 for all other flights (this increases to £520 if the delay is longer than 4 hours).
For more information visit the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website.