Delayed travel claims: how and when to claim

In Money Matters

According to a report published in January 2016, over £8.3billion of delayed flight compensation is going unclaimed by European passengers.

In 2005 European law was changed to enable passengers to access compensation for travel delays of more than 3 hours, with the average payout due to passengers estimated to be £350 per claim. But many UK travellers are either still not aware of travel delay laws or are discouraged from pursuing a claim by flight providers.

Here is some of the basic information you should know.

When can a delayed travel claim be launched?

If a flight from the UK or another EU country has been the subject of a delay of three hours or more then it will be possible to make a claim for compensation. The same is applicable for flights run by European airlines.

It is important to note however, that claims can only be made if there is proof that a delay is the fault of an airline or airport. Claims cannot be made if a delay is caused by strike action or as the result of bad weather or natural phenomena. Another important detail is that claims should be made as soon as possible and must be issued at Court within 6 years of the delay in question.

How do delay times and cancellations affect a claim?

If a journey is delayed by two or more hours then passengers have the legal right to complimentary food, drink and accommodation – if the delay lasts overnight. In this instance, free transport between the airport and hotel should be provided for you

If a flight has been delayed by over three hours then passengers will be entitled to between €250 and €600, with the amount increasing according to the length of the delay and the distance of the journey. In the event of a five hour delay, passengers have the choice to either continue with their travel plans or decline the flight, regardless of who is to blame for the delay.

Should a passenger choose to continue with their travel plans and board a plane that has been delayed for more than five hours, they will be entitled to up to €600 depending on distance and nature of the delay – i.e. whether it can be established that the delay was the airline’s fault.

If a passenger declines their delayed flight after five hours, they are eligible to receive the following: a full refund on the cost of the flight; a full refund on other bookings that are part of the same journey but won’t be used – such as missed connecting flights; and a return to the airport of origin if they are partway through a journey. Access to food and drink, phones and emails, and accommodation should also be provided by the airline under these circumstances.

Should a flight be cancelled completely by the airline, it is a legal requirement to provide passengers with refreshments and a replacement flight, with compensation claims possible if the replacement flight sees them arrive two hours or more later than originally intended or if the flight was cancelled less than seven days before departure. Again, the amount of compensation that can be expected relies upon the distance of the journey, the length of the delay and when the flight was cancelled.

How can a legal service provider assist in a delayed travel claim?

The rules and regulations surrounding delayed travel claims can be complicated. The specifics of any claim depend upon the nature of the travel delay, and airlines may sometimes deny a legitimate claim if they think they can. If you wish to pursue a claim, a legal service provider will be able to advise you and provide representation where necessary – although the majority of cases do not require court action.


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