If your flight is delayed for more than three hours, then you could be entitled to compensation. Submit your claim for free via Resolver and get up to €600 per person.

Flight delays and cancellations

Flight delays and cancellations affect thousands of people every year. Some delays are unavoidable or unpredictable, like the Icelandic volcano ash cloud that grounded flights a few years ago, or most recently, the BA computer crash that left many people stranded for days.

However, the good news is there are laws protecting your rights if the fault is with the airline, and if the delays are significant. This could mean you’re entitled to compensation. Even if you’re not automatically entitled to a full or partial refund, you still have the right to make a complaint if you’re unhappy.



Compensation for flight delays

All flights either from or to countries in the EU (also including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) or flights operated by an EU airline, are covered by EU regulation known as 261/2004. This governs your right to care at the airport and compensation/refunds should you experience significant delays.

You can claim for compensation once the flight is delayed for more than three hours, as long as the delay wasn’t under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as weather and other circumstances completely out of the airline’s control.


You are only able to claim compensation if the delay was the airline's fault, something within their control.



How to calculate how much you could be owed

Flight delay compensation can be between 250 to 600 euros depending on the flight distance and delay length. The length of your flight delay is counted from when the doors are opened on the plane and not when it lands (as some airlines may claim).

Flight distance Delay length Entitlement
Up to 1,500km 3 hours + €250
Any flight within the EU over 1,500km or
any other flight between 1,500km and 3,500km
3+ hours €400
More than 3,500km 3 to 4 hours €300
More than 3,500km 4 hours + €600


Check the distance of your original flight here

The five-hour refund rule

Once your short-haul flight (less than 932 miles) has been delayed for more than five hours, you are entitled to a refund if you no longer wish to travel.

You will also receive a refund for any unused parts of your booking (for instance, the return flight), and a flight back to your departure airport if you’ve already completed part of your journey.

What if my interconnecting flight is delayed?

If you have bought the tickets as a single booking, and your first flight is delayed, any compensation should be based on the delay when you arrive at your final destination. However, this area of the law is currently grey as there is no legal precedent to prove this point as yet.


Flight cancellations

If an airline cancels your flight, they must either:

  • Refund your cancelled flight fee
  • Provide an alternative flight to get you to your destination

1- Refund

You can get your money back for any parts of the booking you haven’t used. For instance, if you have booked a return flight and the outward leg of the ticket is cancelled, you can get the total cost of the return ticket back from your airline (even though only the outbound one was cancelled).

If you are already at the airport and have not yet being offered any help, please speak to the airline in the first instance. If you are not able to do that, you can always claim later using our tool.


2- Alternative flight

If you still want to travel despite the cancellation, your airline must find you an alternative flight. It’s up to you when to fly - either as soon as possible, or at a later date that suits you. Airlines often refer to an alternative flight as a ‘rerouted’ flight.

Generally, airlines will book you onto another of their flights to the same destination, however if a different airline is flying there significantly sooner (and you’ve opted to go ASAP) then you may have the right to be booked onto that flight instead. This can be discussed with your airline, should the situation arise.



Compensation for flight cancellations

Recent legislation now means an airline must inform you directly if they cancel your flight.

The rules state that if you received less than 14 days notice of the cancellation, you may be able to claim compensation too.

A recent court case between a passenger and an airline resulted in the EU court ruling that it was the airline’s responsibility to contact the passenger directly to notify them there flight has been cancelled, as opposed to just contacting the travel agent.


The ruling means all airlines are now responsible for directly contacting passengers and must prove that contact was made more than 14 days prior to the original departure. If this is not the case, airlines are responsible for paying compensation.

However, bear in mind that ‘extraordinary circumstances’ still apply and if the cause of the cancellation falls under this category then the airline is not liable to pay compensation (however they are obliged to give you a refund or alternative flight, regardless of the reason for the cancellation).



Claiming compensation via Resolver

Resolver's flight compensation tool will take you through a few steps and help you prepare your claim. Before you search for the airline to start your complaint/claim, please also read our tips to make it easier for you.

After you’ve filled in all the information and details you can remember about your flight, your case file is saved in securely online for you to refer back to.


    It is useful to have the following information:

  • Flight number
  • Booking reference
  • The date of your flight
  • Departure and arrival airports
  • The number of passengers you are claiming for and their names

Flight compensation tool



Regulations and useful things to know

In theory, you can claim back to 2005 for any compensation. However, in England and Wales going to court has a limitation of six years (five years in Scotland), so complaints older than six years are unlikely to get a positive resolution by the airline.

Which late flights qualify for compensation?

  • UK or European flight - Any flight that has a UK or European departure and arrival airport then depending on the cause you may be entitled to compensation
  • International flight arriving into or leaving the UK/Europe - If you have an international flight that is delayed by more than three hours and the distance is over 3500km, then depending on the cause of the delay you are entitled to compensation

Extraordinary circumstances

In some instances, airlines are exempt from paying out compensation if the delay was caused by an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ - in other words, something the airline had no control over.


There have been a number of court rulings which have affected what is deemed an extraordinary circumstance.

Extraordinary circumstances can lead to more than one cancellation or delay at the final destination.

Examples of extraordinary circumstances include:
  • Air traffic management decisions
  • Political instability
  • Adverse weather conditions
  • Security risks

Situations which are not considered as extraordinary circumstances include:
  • Most technical problems which come to light during aircraft maintenance or are caused by failure to maintain an aircraft
  • Collision of mobile boarding stairs with an aircraft


Claiming expenses

If your flight is delayed by two hours or more due to a delay or cancellation, you are automatically entitled to support from the airline while you’re at the airport.

Whether you’re entitled to this depends on what distance you’re due to be flying. Essentially if you were flying short haul (less than 932 miles) your flight must be at least 2 hours delayed for you to be eligible for care and assistance. For medium haul (between 932 and 2,175 miles), the flight needs to be three hours delayed. And for long haul (anything over 2,175 miles), the flight needs to be 4 hours delayed.

Care and assistance from the airline includes:

  • food and drink at the airport (often in the form of vouchers).
  • access to phone calls and emails.
  • accommodation if you’re delayed overnight - and journeys between the airport and the hotel.

The airline should give you vouchers to get these things at the airport. Ask someone who works for the airline if you’re not offered any help.

Reimbursement for lack of care

If the airline does not give you help at the airport, keep receipts for expenses and try to claim from the airline later. Airlines only pay for ‘reasonable’ expenses - you won’t get money back for alcohol, expensive meals or luxury hotels. Keeping receipts is essential.

For overnight delays, the airline must provide hotel accommodation and transport to reach it - or to return home. When there’s a major disruption, airline staff may not be able to assist in booking hotels. In such cases, you can make your own arrangements and claim the cost back.

If you had to book accommodation make sure that it is not classified as luxury and also that it is at a reasonable distance to the airport. Otherwise, the airline might refuse to pay or reimburse you for it.


What happens next?

If the airline refuses to deal with your complaint, you have three options:

Go to the designated regulator:

If your airline rejects your complaint, Resolver permits you to raise the issue with the relevant regulator under EC 261. If you depart from a UK airport or land at a UK airport on an EU carrier (e.g. BA from New York to London), you send your case to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

For all other flights your claim will go to a different regulator depending on the country of departure.

Small claims court:

Another option is to take the airline to court. You can do this through the Small Claims Court using the Government online court called Money Claims OnLine.

Claims management company:

These will take between 15% and 30% of your compensation to cover their costs and will manage your case for you. They may not take your case, however, as they tend to focus on low-effort cases.

Our recommendation is to try to claim yourself, to begin with - either directly or through Resolver - before you use a claims management company.


Other flight issues and your rights

Denied boarding a flight

Airlines generally deny boarding a flight due to overbooking. Sometimes they change the aircraft to a smaller size. There could be many other reasons why an airline might deny boarding a flight.

Why do airlines overbook?

So that if some passengers cancel or fail to show up, they can give that seat to somebody else. This way they can ensure to compensate for the loss.

Alternative transport, accommodation, meals and transfers

If a flight is overbooked, the airline will offer various incentives for passengers to give up their seats. Until a volunteer comes forward they will increase the incentives on offer. That starts with a refund or alternative flight and extra cash, hotel stay, upgrade to pricier options like business class seats etc.

If no volunteer decides to give up the seat, airlines will randomly select and remove the passengers from the flight. However, in order to do that they have to offer an immediate compensation which is similar to a compensation for flight cancellation.

Being forcibly removed from a flight is not a pleasant experience. If the airline asks you to leave the plane and it causes you a major inconvenience or problem (missing someone's funeral, doctor's appointment, wedding etc) you might want to point this out. In some cases they will look for another person to leave the plane instead.

Booking/reservation issues

Booking & reservation issues should be raised with the airline as soon as possible. The earlier you do that the higher chance you have of getting it sorted. In some cases like administrative errors, you can get it rectified free of charge.

However, if you wish to alter your booking, you can expect there to be some form of administration charge. Always check the terms and conditions of your original booking carefully as this may affect what you are entitled to.

You can use our flight compensation tool to submit a claim if you are not happy with how the airline dealt with the issue.

Baggage issues

Another common problem with flights is baggage issues. Baggages can sometimes get damaged, lost, stolen or delayed. Try to speak to a member of staff while in the airport, if this happens to you. If you wish to submit a complaint you can use our tool. Type in the name of the airline you booked your flight with in our flight compensation tool. Follow a few simple steps to submit your baggage complaint.




Commonly asked questions

My flight has been cancelled. How can I get where I need to be?

You are entitled under EU rules to “rerouting, under comparable transport conditions, to your final destination at the earliest opportunity”. Unfortunately what exactly “the earliest opportunity” means has not been properly tested and defined in court.

Many passengers are being told they may need to wait several days before they can be flown to their destination. But the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) tells me airlines are obliged to book you on a rival airline “where there is a significant difference in the time that a reroute can be offered on the airline’s own services”. The CAA does not define “significant”; easyJet, Britain’s biggest budget airline, insists that if it can get you to your destination within 48 hours then it will not allow a switch to another airline.

We believe that it would be difficult for any airline to argue that making you wait more than two days isn’t a “significant difference”. So if Ryanair refuses to book you on, for example, British Airways or easyJet, you could buy a new ticket and then seek to recoup the cost from the Irish airline. But we must stress there is no absolute guarantee you will be able to get your money back.

Read more about Ryanair's recent flight cancellations issue to find out more on your rights.

Do you have to be an EU citizen?

No, the regulation covers all those flying, although we have heard that British Airways is trying to claim the regulations do not cover non-EU citizens.

Which airlines are covered?

  • All EU airlines
  • For non-EU airlines, only flights leaving or arriving into the European Union that are over 3,500Km are covered by the regulations.

Can I claim for everyone in the same booking?

Yes you can. As long as they are all in the same booking, you can claim for everyone. Make sure to enter number of people you are claiming for and also list their names in our claims tool.

Can I claim for technical faults?

Until recently, airlines have always successfully argued that technical faults or maintenance issues were exceptional circumstances. They were therefore outside of the control of the airline and - crucially - passengers would be unable to get any recompense for the delay. However, the Court of Appeal held up a verdict against budget flight operator Jet2 in October 2014 over a claim for a delayed flight caused by a technical fault with the aircraft. So now, if you claim for a flight delayed by more than three hours, the airline cannot use maintenance issues or technical faults as an excuse not to pay up.

Can I claim for a delayed incoming plane or late flight crew?

This is within the airline's control and therefore you should be entitled to compensation. If the issue was caused by an issue outside of their control, provided the airline has done everything in their power to try and provide a plane, then they can argue that the delay is not their fault. As a result, these cases will be looked at by the airline on a case-by-case basis.

Can I claim for diverted flights?

If the diversion was outside of the operator's control, you cannot claim compensation.

Can I claim for bad weather?

This is outside of the airline's control and you cannot claim compensation.

Can I claim for air traffic control delays?

This is outside of the airline's control and you, therefore, cannot claim compensation.

Claims management companies... stay away from them!

Submitting a flight delay & cancellation compensation claim is very straight forward. Our tool will do the same work as these companies claim to do and best thing is our tool does it for free. Claims management companies will charge you some % of the compensation. Although most of them claim to do it on **no win no fee** basis, what is the point in paying them when you can do it in a few minutes using our tool? Answer should be clear.

What if the issue is not addressed

Resolver will remind you when you can escalate your case file and knows who to escalate your case to within the airline.

What if the airline says no?

You have three options:

1- Designated Body

If your airline rejects your complaint, Resolver permits you to raise the issue with the relevant regulator under EC 261. If you depart from a UK airport or land at a UK airport on an EU carrier (e.g. BA from New York to London), you send your case to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

For all other flights your claim will go to a different regulator – we will tell you the right one for your case.

2- Small Claims Court

The second is to take the airline to court, which you can do through the Small Claims Court using the Government online court called Money Claims OnLine or using a claims management company to submit your case. You can export your Resolver case file and send the PDF copy to the Court as evidence.

3- Claims management company

These will take between 15% and 30% of your compensation to cover their costs and will manage your case for you. They may not take your case, however, as they tend to focus on low-effort cases. Our recommendation is to try to claim yourself, to begin with - either directly or through Resolver - before you use a claims management company.

Media corner

Our free flight delays and cancellations tool has been featured in many prominent newspapers.

The Guardian highlights Resolver as a great place to request any compensation you might be owed by an airline.

The Mirror let its readers know that they "can make a claim through the consumer champions at Resolver.co.uk”, going on to highlight how easy the Resolver process can make learning your rights and escalating your complaint.

Resolver founder and CEO James Walker had an article featured in The Scotsman where he laid out when someone can raise a complaint, and how much they can expect to receive.

Check out our Facebook page to see some of the things people have said about Resolver’s flight delays & cancellations tool. Don’t forget to Like our page to stay up to date with all the latest consumer news (it’s also a great way of supporting our free service).

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