Being the first major school break since Covid restrictions were dropped in the UK and in many parts of Europe, the Easter holidays were always destined to be a bumper few weeks for the travel industry.
But airlines are struggling to keep up with demands due to staff shortages and sudden sickness due to Covid. Over recent days, British Airways and easyJet have had to cancel some flights and the chaos looks set to continue.
So what happens if you’re flight is delayed or cancelled? Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know.
When can I get compensation?
The good news is airlines are obliged to fork out if your plane is delayed or cancelled through their fault; the bad news is it depends on where you’re travelling to or from, and who owns the plane. If disruption is caused on departures from the UK, then you’re covered. But if an issue arises on the return leg, you’ll only get help if you’re travelling with a UK or EU airline. All the information below applies to these two cases.
For any journeys with a non-EU airline to a destination outside the UK, you’ll need to check with the individual airline.
What are you entitled to after a few hours?
Most airlines will offer you tokens for food and drink to be redeemed at the airport, along with access to phone calls and emails if you are overseas. For short haul flights (less than 1500km) the delay will need to be over two hours; for mid-haul (1500km-3500km) it’s three hours; for long haul (more than 3500km) it’s four hours. But don’t expect to go crazy – amounts will only usually cover the bare minimum.
What are you entitled to after long delays?
For longer flight delays, you may be eligible for hotel accommodation (if your flight is rescheduled for the following day) and in some cases, vouchers for future use. Again, the amount will depend on the delay and the distance of the flight.
If your flight is delayed for more than five hours, you can decide to cancel and receive a full refund, along with a refund for any other parts of the journey you won’t be able to complete. Alternatively, you can claim up to £520 compensation if the airline is to blame.
What happens if the flight is cancelled?
In this instance, you can claim a full refund or can request the airline book an alternative flight to get you to your destination. Legally, you can also ask for compensation if your replacement flight arrives more than two hours later than was originally planned, or if you were given less than 14 days’ notice for a cancellation. For less than seven days’ notice, you’re entitled to between £110 and £520.
How to make a claim
First of all, contact your airline. If you don’t hear back, check to see if the airline is a member of an alternative dispute resolution body (ADR). You can also report the case to the Civil Aviation Authority (caa.co.uk). It’s also worth checking with your travel insurance to see if you are covered. Other useful bodies include Citizens Advice (citizensadvice.org.uk)
Watch out for Acts of God
Unfortunately, if weather or natural disasters are to blame for delays or cancellations, it won’t be possible to make a claim from an airline. Instead, check the T&Cs of your insurance policy.
If you’re on a multi-hop trip using different airlines for each leg, make sure you include all the flights on the same booking. It’ll be easier to claim for compensation if a part of the journey is disrupted.
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