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Does An Airline Owe You Money?



We all hate flight delays and cancellations! Even a short delay can result in a breathless sprint between connecting flights (definitely not what we signed up for!) and in extreme cases it can mean missing connections, losing a day or two out of a trip, or even missing a cruise departure.

If you do experience a delay, when should you claim from the airline and where does your travel insurance policy fit in? Here are some guidelines to help you get paid faster – and with less frustration.

These guidelines refer to flights in the EU. For flights into the UK, they apply to EU airlines. Other countries or zones may have different regulations in place, so it’s always best to check when you make your booking.


The Long And The Short Of It

If your flight is delayed for two hours or more, EU regulations say the airline is obligated to assist – even if the delay is not the airline’s fault (e.g. bad weather). According to Citizens Advice this includes:

-       Food and drink (they often provide vouchers that you can use at the airport)

-       Access to phone and email

-       Accommodation if you’re delayed overnight

-       Transport to and from that accommodation

If you’re delayed more than three hours and it’s the airline’s responsibility (e.g. unexpected maintenance to the aircraft) you’re entitled to compensation over and above the standard food/drink/accommodation. The amount depends on the duration of the delay, and the distance you’re travelling.


What About The Weather?

If a flight is cancelled or delayed due to general bad weather, you should be compensated as per usual.

If, however, the bad weather is considered “extreme”, “freak”, or “wholly exceptional” cautions, you probably won’t be able to claim compensation.

-       These extreme conditions include volcanic ash clouds, extreme fog, and weather that closes the airport or causes air traffic control to stop all flights.

-       The airline must still look after you during the delay though, with food/drink, telephone/email, and accommodation if you’re delayed overnight. 

This is one of those times your travel insurance can be a lifesaver, as this is when cover for inclement weather and/or natural catastrophes kicks in.

These extreme conditions can so often result in cancellations, as things like hurricanes and volcanic ash tend to make an area inaccessible for days or damage roads and buildings.

Our standard policy includes cover for adverse weather as well as natural catastrophes, so if your delay is greater than 24 hours, you can cancel your trip and will receive back whatever value of cancellation you have insured. If the delay is greater than 2 hours we will provide access to an airport lounge. It’s a small compensation, because we know you would much rather be on your way, but it does make hanging around an airport that bit nicer and more comfortable.

Our cruise policies all come with Missed Port cover, so if the delay results in you not embarking as per your itinerary, we will pay (and if required) organise for you to meet your ship at the next available port.


How Do I Claim?

A good first step is to check how much compensation you’re owed. There are a few airline delay compensation websites that can help calculate this. They can also help you to chase the airline if you have trouble getting your money, but they do charge a fee and often all you need to do is go to the airline’s website and fill in the relevant forms.

Someone travelling from London to Johannesburg recently was stuck with an overnight delay. Initially the airline thought it would only be an hour or two and provided all passengers with food vouchers, but when the flight was pushed back to the following morning, they were given overnight accommodation at a “decent” hotel near Heathrow, as well as transport to and from that hotel. On their return, they filled in the relevant paperwork and received very reasonable compensation within a week!   

One of those compensation websites mentions that some airlines try to classify weather as “extreme” to avoid paying compensation, but sticking to your guns often pays off!

If your claim is covered by your travel insurance then the sooner you contact our claim handlers, the sooner your claim can be processed. Once they have completed forms, they can assess and settle a claim usually within 48 hours.



*Please note, these details are a summary only. Please read our Policy Wording for full terms, conditions, inclusions, exclusions, and options.