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How to Claim Flight Cancellation Compensation

Claiming compensation can seem like a headache but we’re here to relieve you of any compensation pains and help you get the money owed to you. This includes flight compensation.

When an EU-regulated flight is cancelled, however long before it was due to take off, you have a right to choose between a refund or an alternative flight to your destination (the airlines call this re-routing). This is regardless of what it was that caused the cancellation. On top of a refund or an alternative flight offer, you may also be eligible for compensation. But, this is dependent on a number of factors, which we’ll cover later.

Applying for compensation can seem like more hassle than it’s worth, but we’re here to make it as simple as possible for you to get the compensation you deserve. Here’s our easy guide on how to claim flight cancellation compensation:

You’re eligible to claim flight cancellation compensation if:

  • It was an EU-regulated flight

This means any flight leaving an EU airport, or any flight arriving to an EU flight, regardless of the airline.


  • It was the airline’s fault

You won’t be eligible for compensation if the flight is cancelled because of something that’s out of the airlines’ hands, this includes a security risk, political instability or severe weather.


  • The airline cancelled the flight within two weeks of departure

If you opt for a refund of your original ticket, you can still claim compensation based on the timings of the alternative flight that’s offered. Similarly, if you opt to go on an alternative flight, the compensation will depend on the arrival and departure time of that flight.


  • It happened within the last six years

Technically this isn’t an official rule, you can apply for compensation as far back as February 2005 but it’s doubtful you’ll win. This is because in the unlikely event you’ll need to take an airline to court, then in England, Wales and Northern Ireland you can only go back six years.


How much compensation can you get?

The compensation is in euros, so the amount in pounds will vary depending on the exchange rate of the pound. Compensation is also per person, not per booking, so if there are two of you travelling, double the compensation.

However, if a passenger travels free of charge then they won’t be included in the compensation.

No matter what you paid for your ticket, compensation could range from 125 euros to 600 euros. The exact amount will depend on:

  • The distance of the flight
  • Whether your flight was cancelled less than seven days or less than two weeks before departure
  • The departure and arrival times of the alternative flight in comparison to the original flight


How to claim compensation

Different airlines require you to apply for compensation in different ways. Usually it will be through email, post or an online claims form. Either way, you’ll need to include the following:

  • The fact that you want compensation under “EC regulation 261/2004”
  • Your flight number, date, departure and destination airports
  • Your contact details
  • Names and addresses of the passengers
  • The length of the delay (this is for the alternative flight you took or were offered)
  • Why the flight was disrupted (if you know)

After you’ve submitted this information, some airlines may not question you and you’ll just find a cheque in the post.

Other airlines may try and get out of it. However, if you think you’re eligible, do argue your case. If they say no again, you can seek advice from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and take it to court under the small claims process.

The CAA will only be able to help you if your flight was cancelled within the UK, or if it was on a UK-based airline. If this isn’t the case, then you’ll need to complain to the airline regulator in the country where the cancellation took place.

Some airlines may offer you vouchers but you are entitled to money so again don’t be hesitant to ask for it.

Common questions on claiming flight cancellation compensation

Why have I been refused compensation?

  • Your flight was cancelled more than 14 days before the departure date
  • You were told the flight was cancelled between seven days and two weeks before the departure date and were offered an alternative flight that departed no more than two hours before your original flight time and arrived no later than four hours after your original scheduled time of arrival.
  • You were told the flight was cancelled less than seven days before your departure and offered an alternative flight that departed no more than an hour before the scheduled time and arrived less than two hours after the original scheduled time of arrival.
  • Your flight departed and landed at an airport outside of the EU (regardless of whether the airline was EU-regulated)
  • You were coming from a non-EU country on an airline that isn’t EU-regulated (regardless of where you landed)
  • The delay was not the airline’s fault.


What situations are not the airline’s fault?

The EU regulations state that “extraordinary circumstances” may mean a delay or cancellation is out of the airlines’ control and is therefore not their fault. These extraordinary circumstances include:

  • Bad weather
  • Staff strikes by air traffic controllers, airport staff and ground handlers
  • Political problems
  • Security or safety issues
  • Air traffic controllers’ decisions

Where can I get more information on claiming compensation?

Visit the CAA website for more information on claiming. They also have some handy tips for complaining, including a standard claims letter template.

Good luck in getting the compensation you deserve!

About the author

Daniel Lee

Company Director

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