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What to do if your flight is cancelled or delayed

The recent bad weather is causing travel misery up and down the country. Be prepared and find out what your rights are if your flight is delayed or cancelled. Plus we've got essential tips for coping with cancellations and how to get home quickly and safely.

When am I entitled to compensation?

If your flight to or from an EU airport is delayed for three hours or more, you are legally entitled to receive the same compensation as those people whose flights have been cancelled. Same applies if you are flying with an EU-based airline such as Ryanair or British Airways. If you have been informed that your flight has been cancelled at very short notice, airlines will normally compensate passengers for the inconvenience. However, the only circumstances in which the airline is not legally obliged to provide compensation is if the flight was cancelled due to reasons beyond the airlines control, such as a volcanic eruption, a strike or extreme weather. Depending on what airline you are flying with, you should expect a full refund or an offer of alternative travel arrangements, such as a seat on a different airline’s flight to your destination.

Plane delayed on the runway at the airport

How do I claim compensation for a delayed or cancelled flight?

If you are struggling to file a claim by yourself, you can get help from new startups like Get Airhelp which can make claims with airlines on your behalf. Alternatively, you can find a template letter here to help with filing your claim.

Will I get any compensation if I’m waiting at the airport for a new flight?

If you have been issued with a new flight ticket and have to wait in the airport for over two hours for a short-haul flight or over four hours for a long flight, you should be provided with food and drink vouchers at the airport. If the delay is outside the airline’s control, you may be able to claim on your travel insurance. Many policies include payouts for missed, delayed or cancelled flights, depending on what company you have purchased your policy with.

Who pays for my food and accommodation if I have to stay extra days?

Food and accommodation is only paid for by the airline if you are flying with an EU-based airline or are departing from an EU airport. While non-EU airlines should also refund you or try to accommodate you on an alternative flight, they may not provide you with food and drink. You can, however, try to claim these expenses on your travel insurance. Accommodation is provided on a case by case basis, depending on where you are from, where you are stuck, for how long and if you have any friends or relatives near by that can take care of you.

You might be stuck at the airport a little longer than you had anticipated

What can I expect from my airline if my flight is cancelled due to a strike?

If you have a flight delay because of a strike, your airline has an obligation to offer you assistance if the delay is expected to go beyond a certain point. This may include refreshments and accommodation. However, they are not obliged to offer compensation following a strike because strikes are usually considered to be ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

If I miss a connection will a get a refund?

Unfortunately, if you book two flights on separate airlines and miss the second flight due to the first one being delayed or cancelled, you will not be able to get a refund for the second flight. This is why booking flights with the same airline can prove beneficial in the long run, even if it is a little more expensive.

Where can I find more flight information?

Check the Departure/Arrival tab of Skyscanner’s Airport pages, which give live flight information for all airports in the world.

Need to find an alternative flight? Search here:


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