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What to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled

Travel may be difficult, or even off-limits for now - but that doesn't mean we can't make plans for the future. We hope that articles like this one will help you plan your next experience with confidence, whenever that may be.

Travel has been tricky over the past year, with flight delays and cancellations becoming more frequent due to the pandemic. We hope this article will give you some clarity about your rights and the airlines’ policies. Note that you should always consult local government websites before booking any travel.

When am I entitled to compensation for flight delays or cancellations?

Unattended luggage. Flight delays and cancellations are par the course lately. Find out what your rights are with Skyscanner.

Found out that your flight has been cancelled at very short notice? Airlines will normally compensate passengers for the inconvenience.

However, the airline is not legally obliged to provide compensation if the flight was cancelled due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’, or reasons beyond the airline’s control. These include extreme weather, a strike or flights grounded due to government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Depending on what airline you are flying with, you should expect a full refund or an offer of alternative travel arrangements. That can translate to a seat on an alternative route or a different airline’s flight to your destination.

Many airlines have also opted to make their tickets flexible, so that you can use them later. When you use the Skyscanner app or website, you can actually filter your search to show only flexible tickets. That way, you can book with confidence.

If you're worried about flight delays and cancellations you can look for flexible tickets when you search with Skyscanner

How do I claim compensation for flight delays or cancellations?

If you are struggling to file a claim by yourself, you can find a template letter here to help with filing out a flight delay or cancellation claim. 

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

If you receive 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 due to flight delays?

Waiting at the airport. Flight delays and cancellations are par the course lately. Find out what your rights are with Skyscanner.

In the case of long flight delays, while airlines should 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. It depends 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.

What if my airline goes bankrupt?

First of all, take a look at the travel advice on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Then, check out the flight-specific Civil Aviation Authority website. You can also check their Twitter feed for the latest information.

If your airline goes into administration (like Flybe earlier this year) after you’ve bought a ticket, you will not receive refunds from the airline itself. Paid with a credit card? Contact the card provider to see if a charge-back is possible.

If you have travel insurance, check if your policy includes cover for scheduled airline failure (SAFI). Allianz Travel Insurance offers many policies that cover the lost funds of an airline trip disrupted by bankruptcy. 

In the case of airline bankruptcy, competing airlines often step in to offer repatriation flights. While you’ll have to pay for these, the most important thing is to get home from your destination. You can make your claim later.

Finally, if you booked your trip via a travel firm that has an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL), contact them. If you are ATOL protected, the travel firm is responsible for your flight arrangements. That means they will find you alternative flights or provide a full refund.

Empty seats at the airport. Flight delays and cancellations are par the course lately. Find out what your rights are with Skyscanner.

What can I expect from my airline if there are flight delays or cancellations due to a strike?

If you have a flight delay because of a strike, your airline has an obligation to offer you assistance if they expect the delay 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’.

How do I get a refund for a cancelled flight?

A plane flying. Flight delays and cancellations are par the course lately. Find out what your rights are with Skyscanner.

To find out about airlines’ current cancellation, rebooking or refund policies during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out the table below:

RyanairIf your flight has been cancelled you have been notified by email and SMS and given the option of a travel voucher valid for 12 months, or refund, or rebook your journey.
easyJetYou have the option to switch to any other flight, any time, without paying any change fees, if your flight was cancelled due to COVID-19. Or you can claim a refund, or a voucher for the full value of your ticket for future travel.
Jet2If your flight is cancelled, you can request a refund credit note that you can use to book future travel, or receive a refund.
Wizz AirIf your flight is affected by government restrictions you can rebook a comparable route, receive a refund in flight credit plus 20% of the original fare paid, or opt for a full cash refund.
EmiratesIf your travel plans have been affected by COVID‑19, you can keep your ticket with the flexibility to fly with Emirates at any time in the next 24 months. You can also request a refund. Note that these options apply to tickets booked for travel on or before 30 June 2021.
NorwegianIf your flight is cancelled, you can change your flight free of charge, get travel credit in CashPoints or cancel your booking and claim for reimbursement.
TUIYou can amend to another holiday, receive a refund credit for the amount you’ve already paid (plus a 20% booking incentive which you can put towards any holiday currently on sale) or get a refund.
KLMYou can choose a new flight for your existing booking, request a cash refund or a refund in the form of a refundable travel voucher.
Virgin AtlanticThey will keep your ticket open as credit for you to use until 31st December 2022. If you choose to travel on the same route up to 9th December 2020 or between 11th January 2021 – 31st March 2021, they’ll also waive any differences in the fare. You can also change the passenger names if you’d like someone else to benefit from your booking.
Vueling AirlinesAll bookings made since 10 March 2020 include one free date change (you only pay the fare difference, if any). If you decide to proactively cancel your booking you can do so up to 48 hours before departure of the first flight and get a full refund in the form of Flight Credit.
British AirwaysIf your flight is cancelled you will be able to rebook onto another flight or claim a voucher to the value of your booking, valid until 30 April 2022.
FinnairIf your flight is cancelled you can postpone it or request a refund (refunds take around a month to process).

Please check official airline websites for further details or the International Air Travel Association.

Will I get a refund if I miss a connection due to flight delays?

Did you book two flights on separate airlines and miss the second flight due to the first one being delayed or cancelled? Unfortunately, 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.

Need to find an alternative flight?

You can find great deals that will help you reschedule your trip with Skyscanner. Remember to use our handy tools to search for flexible tickets or a high cleanliness and COVID-19 safety score.

Discover where you can go

Making plans to get back out there? Find out whose borders are open with our interactive global map. You can also sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen.

Got a destination in mind?

Why not get your trip started with a quick search and look out for the best deals.

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