Flight Delays – How To Claim Compensation
Our guide will explain when you may be eligible to claim compensation for a flight delay and how to claim.
Read on to start your journey to claiming your compensation.
Do you want a quick and simple way to claim your flight delay compensation?
Use our award-winning flight delay calculator to submit your claim and our legal experts will take on the airlines on your behalf.
We are the law firm that developed this entire area of law in the UK on behalf of millions of passengers – so get on board and let us recover your rightful flight delay compensation today.
When is a flight delay actually a flight delay?
Answer: When it is delayed by more than 15 minutes, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Although a flight is technically classed as delayed after the 15 minute mark, it is only after a 3 hour delay that passengers can claim compensation – with care and assistance due from 2 hours.
Consumer group Which? analysed data from the CAA to show that while 37 million passenger journeys were delayed more than 15 minutes, only 900,000 people were eligible to claim compensation for a delay of more than 3 hours.
The BBC’s analysis of CAA data around the same time showed Gatwick Airport had the highest average delay of 18 minutes, followed by Heathrow at a 13 minute average.
Bott & Co also analysed CAA data for flight delays from the main airports in the UK and found Birmingham had the best punctuality record of all airports with just 18% of flights delayed more than 15 minutes.
If you are one of the 37 million journeys delayed by more than 15 minutes you might justifiably be annoyed – particularly if the delay ended up being as much as one or two hours.
If, on the other hand, you are the one of the 900,000 delayed by more than 3 hours then you should be eligible for a payout of up to 600 Euros in flight delay compensation.
Superb stress free service.
To be honest, I contacted Bott & Co Solicitors more as just a thought of making a flight claim, rather than going ahead straight away, basically just to get some information as it's something I have not done before.
I can honestly say that with minimal (really no effort) on our part, they have sorted out our claim and the money is now in our account. It has been a stress free experience from start to finish.
Flight delay compensation is all based on a European regulation called EC261/2004 – or often shortened to EU261.
It was created in 2005 to help protect passengers from poor treatment by airlines when flights were delayed, cancelled, or over-booked leading to passengers being denied boarding.
The regulation stipulates that airlines must payout financial compensation to passengers who experience a delay of more than 3 hours on arrival of up to 600 Euros per passenger.
Despite airlines fighting this regulation in many different court cases over the last decade, Bott & Co’s landmark victories have continued to secure air passenger rights in the UK for millions of people.
For a flight to be eligible for compensation under Regulation 261 it must have departed from an EU airport or arrived in an EU airport on an EU airline.
For example, a flight from London to any destination on any airline would be covered by the regulation. A flight to London from New York on British Airways would be covered but the same route on American Airlines wouldn’t be covered as it’s not an EU carrier.
The flight must be delayed by at least 3 hours on arrival at the original destination. This means if you set off 3 hours 10 minutes late and the pilot makes up 15 minutes during the flight, so you arrive 2 hours 55 minutes late – you wouldn’t be able to claim compensation.
You can make a flight delay claim for flights up to six years ago. Any flight delay older than six years can’t be pursued in court, so it’s very unlikely you will be able to make the airline pay out.
It can sometimes take many months, or even years in extreme landmark cases, to reach a successful resolution if the airline chooses to continue defending the claim. However, once court proceedings have been issued, this ‘stops the clock’ on the six year time period. This is the reason we issue court proceedings as soon as possible – plus it helps to speed the process up and get you your compensation quicker!
The only time the airline doesn’t have to pay flight delay compensation is if the delay was due to an extraordinary circumstance. Airlines have been known to try and avoid paying compensation for flight delays because they argue a delay was caused by an extraordinary circumstance with it wasn’t.
If this is the case for your particular flight delay, then you may need our legal team to issue court proceedings so we can get a judgment against the airline from the courts.
As the law currently stands, there are a number of unusual situations that are classed as extraordinary circumstances, and therefore not eligible for flight delay claims. These are:
Check your flight with our free, industry leading calculator
Add any extra passenger details and make your claim
We negotiate with the airline on your behalf
Claim is settled and you receive your compensation
Flight delays caused by something within the control of the airline are almost always eligible for compensation under regulation 261.
Problems with airline check-in systems that cause long delays would be claimable, as explained above. One of the more common airline-related issues is denied boarding due to overbooking. This occurs as a result of the airline selling more tickets than actual seats on the assumption not all passengers will show up.
When everyone does present for check-in and there are too many people for the flight, the airline will have to deny boarding to certain passengers if no-one volunteers to miss the flight. Cases of denied boarding would always be claimable in this situation.
The other common airline-related reason for delays is to do with crew and staffing problems. We’ve won some significant cases in court to do with crew sickness, so delays caused by crew or staff illness are claimable. The only exception would be if the pilot had to divert the flight because of a medical emergency on board.
Often a long delay can result in the aircraft crew going over their allotted hours and therefore being unable to staff the plane. This type of case would be eligible for flight delay compensation.
Flight delays caused by weather, or meteorological conditions, can often be eligible for flight compensation if the delay is more than 3 hours on arrival at the intended destination.
As with many aspects of this area of law, it can get complicated very quickly.
Airlines don’t have to pay flight delay compensation if the delay is due to an ‘extraordinary circumstance.’ In terms of weather-related delays, this would mean the weather conditions would need to be regarded as ‘freak’ – a volcano eruption and ash cloud for example.
If the delay is due to snow or ice and you were flying to a ski resort in winter, then those conditions wouldn’t be regarded as freak – you would expect snow at a ski resort of course! However, a snowstorm or ice in Barcelona in summer would certainly be an extraordinary circumstance.
Other wintry weather conditions such as fog and wind could also be both eligible for flight delay compensation or an extraordinary circumstance, depending on the severity and how it affects the operation of the airports in question.
If the fog or wind is so bad that air traffic control at the arrival or departure airport have to reduce the number of flights coming in or out, or even close the airport completely, then this would usually be considered an extraordinary circumstance.
Delays caused by heavy rain would need to be so bad that there are floods in the airport or there is an air traffic control decision to limit flights or close the airport. Pilots are usually able to land aircraft in very wet rainy conditions, so even very heavy rain shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Many of us jet off to hotter climates for our holidays and it has been known for temperatures to get so hot that it affects flights coming in or out of particular airports.
In an instance where it is so hot the runway tarmac softens up, air traffic control may decide to close the runway. This would therefore become an Air Traffic Control issue and not necessarily because it is too hot to fly.
Typically hot destinations such as the Middle East can also experience sandstorms which cause flight delays. These events would be considered an extraordinary circumstance, unless they happened on a sufficiently regular basis to not be classed as ‘freak’ conditions.
Storms can cause problems for airlines and result in delays. Severe turbulence can occur when flying through storms and if the turbulence became so severe that the pilot had to divert the flight then this would most likely be classed as an unexpected flight safety shortcoming and not eligible for compensation.
With all the weather-related situations above it is important to note that even when the delay is an extraordinary circumstance, it usually only applies to that particular flight, and not subsequent ones.
For example, if your flight is delayed from Manchester to Malaga because the aircraft that was due to take you to Malaga is stuck in a snowstorm in Norway, the Norway to Manchester delay might be exempt from flight compensation but you should be able to claim as the weather conditions were ok between Manchester airport and Malaga.
Claiming flight delay compensation for delays caused by strikes is still a subject for debate in the courts so it’s difficult to give definitive answers either way.
To clarify, we are talking about people striking, not bird strikes or lightning strikes.
Air traffic control strikes are not usually claimable, although in areas where they become so frequent that they are no longer ‘extraordinary’ then they might be eligible for compensation.
Strikes by the staff of a specific airline where other airlines are still operating would be claimable under the regulation. This would usually include strikes by baggage handlers and airport staff.
Many third party cause delays are eligible for flight delay compensation – and there have been a number of cases taken to court by Bott and Co to clarify these points in law.
Before explaining the issues involving third parties that are claimable, it’s important to note there are some situations where a third party cause a delay and are not cases we would take on. These include:
Most other third party issues would be eligible for compensation and there are a few more common situations where we’ve made successful claims on behalf of passengers.
For example, if the motorised boarding stairs or the luggage trucks hit the aircraft causing damage that needs to be repaired before travel, then this would be claimable if the delay extends beyond the three hour mark.
Airlines also have problems with their check-in computer systems from time to time and these usually receive lots of media coverage. A check-in glitch would be eligible for compensation if it caused a long delay.
Although not technically a third party as such, bird strikes that cause delays due to planes being repaired, are not eligible for flight delays compensation.
I was worried about making a claim as you read so many horror stories on the web
I checked them out had good reviews so signed up. Need not have worried excellent communication from start to finish, any queries they answer their phones and talk to you.
Settled my claim I'm very happy hence this feedback. I would now only use this company
There are a number of key things to remember if you want to know if your flight delay qualifies for flight delay compensation.
If you are struggling to find this information there are some online tools that can help. Flightstats.com is a website that you can’t use for the purposes of claiming flight delay compensation but you can use for checking the actual arrival times for your flight – this will give you an idea of whether it qualifies for a claim.
You can also use our flight delay calculator online and get all the information you need in one quick calculation done by our database systems. Simply input your flight number and date (or use our flight lookup tool if you can’t locate your flight number) and we’ll be able to tell you instantly whether your flight is eligible for compensation, and how much you’re entitled to claim.
It doesn’t always have to be the airline’s fault for the delay to be eligible for compensation. It’s the airline’s responsibility to look after its customers, even if the delay is out of their control.
The only defence the airline has to avoid paying flight delay compensation is extraordinary circumstances. Typical examples of these would be:
You can ask the airline for the reason of the delay, but that’s no guarantee they will give you the full truth. The best way to know for sure is to enter your flight details in to our flight delay checker. Our database includes extraordinary circumstances so we will give you an instant decision on whether your delay is valid.
Number Of Claims Settled
Compensation Amount Recovered
Claims Settled in less than 30 days
Claim Success Rate
Flight delay compensation amounts are fixed by the European Regulation and there is a maximum claim payout amount of 600 Euros per passenger, no matter if the delay is 4 hours or 40 hours.
The lowest fixed amount for a delay is 250 Euros for shorter flights. To qualify for the 600 Euros you need to be delayed on a flight of more than 3,500 kilometres (such as Manchester to Dubai) and delayed for at least four hours.
Our unique flight delay calculator will figure out your compensation amount in a matter of seconds. Simply input your flight number and date of travel, or use our flight lookup feature if you can’t remember your flight number.
You are also entitled to ‘care and assistance’ from the airline – even I the flight delay is due to extraordinary circumstances. This includes:
For a full breakdown of the amounts of flight delay compensation please see the table below:
It can take weeks, months or even years to recover flight delay compensation, all depending on how aggressively the airline chooses to defend the claim. There is nothing to stop the airlines taking each and every case to court, and they often do this to make claiming more difficult. This is why using a solicitor is often beneficial.
At Bott & Co we settle over half our claims in less than 30 days when we issue court proceedings, and you can sit back and relax while we do all the legal work!
Even if we have to take the airline all the way to the Supreme Court, as we did with the famous Huzar v Jet2 claim, we don’t charge you anything extra. All our work is done for a fixed cost with no upfront charges, and if we don’t win, you don’t pay!
All you need to do is put your flight details and passenger information in our online calculator and our legal team will do the rest. We’ll keep you updated by email throughout the claim process and send you the money when we recover it from the airline.
If you did want to try claiming yourself directly from the airline then you should familiarise yourself with EU Regulation 261/2004 and the small claims process in the UK.
You might find the airline ignores you or they say the delay was caused by an extraordinary circumstance, but don’t give up. we can take on your claim if you find yourself in this position, and we win thousands of claims where the airline has said the delay was an extraordinary circumstance.
The following table shows what processes you have to go through or pay for yourself versus what you get when you claim with Bott & Co.
|Bott & Co||You|
|Claim assessed for legal validity under EC Regulation 261/2004||Yes||Yes|
|Actual flight times provided||Yes||Yes|
|Claim letter to submit to airline||Yes||Yes|
|Meteorological conditions checked||Yes||Yes|
|Free advice by telephone and internet||Yes||Yes|
|Claim cross referenced against database of previous successful claims||Yes||No|
|Formal legal letter sent to airline||Yes||No|
|Drafting of court proceedings included||Yes||No|
|Representation at court included||Yes||No|
|No need for client to attend court||Yes||No|
|Court fees paid on your behalf (Average £150)||Yes||No|
|Fee paid for an expert report to combat ‘technical defect’ arguments (Up to £750)||Yes||No|
|Fee paid for an expert report to combat ‘weather’ arguments||Yes||No|
|No financial risk – no win, no fee||Yes||No|
|25% +VAT +£25Start Claim||Up to £750Download Letter|
A member of The Law Society, Coby helped establish the flight delay compensation sector in the UK.
His work has been recognised throughout the industry, winning numerous awards, including The Manchester Law Society Associate of the Year. Coby has been a key speaker on Flight Compensation, appearing on Sky News, BBC Radio and national newspapers as a flight delay expert.