If you have suffered a significant flight delay (or cancellation) recently, you could be entitled to compensation. It's important that you understand your rights, what you might be entitled to and how to make a claim. For further information you can visit WINWales, however this article will cover the basics. Levels of compensation are determined by a number of factors including:
- the length of delay
- flight distance (miles)
- departure/destination points (specifically if flying from/to an EU country).
The reason for the delay must be deemed to be the airline's responsibility - these reasons could include technical and other aircraft problems or booking issues. Compensation will not be payable in circumstances reputed to be outside the airline's control; severe weather conditions, security concerns or strikes for example.
For flights delayed by more than two hours, all passengers have a basic entitlement of food and drink vouchers and an allowance for telephone calls and emails. This applies even if the delay is as a result of factors outside the airline's control. Additionally, where the delay involves an overnight stay, the airline should provide hotel accommodation and arrange any necessary transport to and from the hotel. The airline has a responsibility to provide this service, but if the required assistance or information is not available at the airport, passengers should make their own arrangements, retaining receipts for appropriate expenses in order to claim them back from the airline later. Be aware though, the airlines will only reimburse 'reasonable' expenses so do not include alcoholic drinks or other 'extras' and ensure you book only standard rather than luxury accommodation.
In situations where a flight is delayed by three hours or more, EU law comes into force. The law allows passengers taking flights departing from/to a European country, or those with a European based airline, to claim cash compensation in addition to their basic entitlements as set out above. Under these regulations compensation packages ranging from 250 euros up to 600 euros can be sought, dependant on the circumstances of the delay. You will need to make note of the time delay and calculate the total flying distance in miles to ascertain the amount of compensation applicable. These claims should be made directly to the airline operating the flight.
In the event of a longer delay of five hours or more, you have a choice; proceed with the journey as planned and claim the appropriate compensation package or cancel your journey and claim a full refund, including your return and any connecting flights (you will still be entitled to your basic rights of food vouchers etc.). If you decide not to take the delayed flight you should inform your airline immediately.
Similarly, if your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to either a full refund (including any additional flights as part of your booking) or a replacement flight(s) to get you to your final destination. You are still entitled to claim compensation if the replacement flight results in a delay of two hours or more at the time of arrival.
Claims for flight delays outside of EU jurisdiction should be directed to the airline responsible and will be handled subject to their own regulations. It's a good idea to check your airline's terms and conditions prior to booking so that you know what your rights are. If you do have cause to make a claim, it's good practice to keep a copy of all correspondence and any receipts until you reach settlement.
If you have a grievance or been denied a claim relating to a flight delay (or cancellation) within the UK, you should contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Flight delay and cancellation complaints occurring outside the UK should be reported to the airline regulator in the relevant country.
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