Featured regularly throughout the media from The Mail to The Telegraph, and regular appearances on ITV, BBC TV and Radio, we’re the most experienced and trusted authority on flight delay compensation rights in the UK.
Making A Claim Couldn’t Be Easier
Our flight delay compensation process couldn’t be simpler. All you need to do is add your flight details to our flight delay compensation checker, the rest is taken care of by us.
Our massive flight data library will go to work and qualify your claim almost instantly, cross-referencing all our historical data on weather conditions, extraordinary circumstances and technical faults.
We’re able to tell you instantly if you have a valid claim and the amount you may be able to claim for.
Award Winning No Win No Fee Legal Representation
As your legal representative, we take all of the stress out of the process, handling everything for you. We also take on the financial risks of claiming such as court fees, and reports associated with your claim.
Our services have scooped up multiple awards within the legal industry, recognised by both The Law Society and the Modern Law Awards, your claim really couldn’t be in better hands.
The Claims Process
Unlike other organisations, we actually represent you against the airlines. That level of representation goes way beyond issuing letters for you to send to the airlines.
We do the following as standard practice:
We charge 25% + VAT of the total compensation amount plus a £25 per passenger administration fee following payment from the airline. We work on a no win no fee basis so you’re at no financial risk to claim at any point. We also cover court fees ( On average £150) and the cost of compiling expert reports (£750 each) if required.
For those who wish to claim directly, we offer a free flight delay claim letter for you to use.
Our Flight Delay Compensation Services At A Glance
|Services||Bott and Co||You|
|Claim assessed for legal validity under EC Regulation 261/2004|
|Actual flight times provided|
|Claim letter to submit to airline|
|Meteorological conditions checked|
|Free advice by telephone and internet|
|Claim cross referenced against database of previous successful claims|
|Formal legal letter sent to airline|
|Drafting of court proceedings included|
|Representation at court included|
|No need for client to attend court|
|Court fees paid on your behalf (Average £150)|
|Fee paid for an expert report to combat ‘technical defect’ arguments (Up to £750)|
|Fee paid for an expert report to combat ‘weather’ arguments|
|No financial risk – no win, no fee|
What is Flight Delay Compensation?
The purpose of the regulation is to protect passengers from poor treatment by airlines when flights were delayed, cancelled, or over-booked. It was introduced to help compensate passengers for the loss of time and inconvenience suffered when they experience a flight delay or cancellation.
Since 2005, there have been a number of test cases and rulings which have given more clarity around what this regulation covers and when consumers can call on it for legal protection.
EU Reg 261 requires airlines to compensate passengers who were delayed reaching their final destination by more than three hours. Passengers can claim up to 600 Euros (approximately £520 depending on exchange rates) with amounts based on the length of the delay and the distance travelled.
The airlines can be excused from paying compensation only if the delay is deemed to be due to an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.
There have been a number of landmark court cases in the last few years between Bott and Co and the airlines debating what is or isn’t an extraordinary circumstance.
Bott and Co have so far won every landmark appeal case on behalf of passengers, making billions of pounds available for recovery for millions of air travellers.
Since the regulation came into force in the UK there have been millions of pounds recovered from the airlines by thousands of delayed passengers. However, there are still millions of people who haven’t yet recovered compensation for their flight delays and are missing out on billions of pounds.
This is a step by step guide to your claiming rights and options. We also provide extensive information and resources such as frequently asked questions, free template letters to download and in depth guides relating to specific areas of the law.
You may be able to claim up to 600 Euros (£520 depending on exchange rates) per passenger if you arrive at your final destination more than three hours late because you were either denied boarding, the flight was delayed, or the flight was cancelled at short notice (less than 14 days before the date of travel).
To make a valid claim, you’ll need to be able to answer YES to each of the four questions below
Sounds simple right? However, it gets complicated quite quickly so we’ll try and guide you through the rules of claiming as clearly as possible.
Rules For Claiming Flight Delay Compensation
We’ll first talk about the rules for standard flight delays and then explain the rules for flight cancellations and cases of denied boarding, as they are all slightly different.
To be eligible for compensation for a delayed flight, the delay must exceed 3 hours over the original stated time of arrival.
The journey must be either departing from a country in the European Union (EU) on any airline, or it must be arriving in the EU on an airline that is based in the EU.
This means a flight from London to Dubai on any airline is covered by the rules (because it departs from the EU), but a flight from Dubai to London would only be covered if it was on an EU airline such as British Airways or Air France and not on a non-EU airline such as Etihad or Emirates.
You must have presented for check in and be travelling on a ticket purchased at a rate available to the public. If you are travelling for business and your employer purchased the ticket on your behalf you can still claim as the compensation is for the inconvenience and your time, not to refund the ticket price.
Flights Covered By EU Reg 261/2004
|Departing From||Arriving To||Can I Claim?|
|Airport inside EU||Airport inside EU||Yes (Claimable for any airline)|
|Airport inside EU||Airport outside EU||Yes (Claimable for any airline)|
|Airport outside EU||Airport inside EU||Yes (If on an EU based airline)|
|Airport outside EU||Airport outside EU||No|
The flight must be delayed three hours on arrival rather than departure. This is crucial as airlines can often make up time during a flight, particularly on longer routes. This could mean you depart 3 hours 5 minutes late and the pilot makes up 10 minutes during the flight by going a bit faster or benefitting from trailing winds, and you actually arrive only 2 hours 55 minutes later than scheduled.
The arrival time in terms of flight delay compensation under Regulation 261 is the time the aircraft doors are opened, not the touchdown time or the time the plane reaches the terminal.
Some of the rules for delayed flights apply to cancelled flights. The flight must be either leaving the EU or arriving in the EU on an EU carrier and you can claim for flights up to six years ago. However, there are some variations to the rules for cancelled flights.
If the flight was cancelled more than 14 days before it was due to depart then you would be due a refund for the cost of the ticket (a replacement flight) but unfortunately no compensation payment.
If the flight was cancelled between 7 and 14 days before you were due to depart then you could be eligible for a flight cancellation compensation claim, depending on the specific circumstances around the cancellation.
For flight cancellations less than 7 days before the expected departure date you can claim flight cancellation compensation and the amounts and delay times change slightly to reflect the greater inconvenience you suffer with such short notice.
With all flight cancellations you are entitled to either a full refund or re-routing to your intended destination. If the airline can’t get you to your original destination within a certain time based on your original arrival time then you could claim compensation under Regulation 261/2004.
How Far Back Can I Claim
The regulation that applies to flight delay claims came into force in 2005. Technically this means you can claim compensation for delayed flights as far back as this. In reality however you are unlikely to recover compensation for delays over six years old.
This is because the statute of limitation in the UK is six years for this type of claim – so any flight delays older than that can’t be taken to court and therefore there is no way of forcing the airline to pay up.
When the airline refuses to pay out the only option is to issue court proceedings – something we’re doing on a daily basis having issued over 30,000 sets of proceedings since establishing the flight delay department.
When you issue court proceedings against an airline, this effectively ‘stops the clock’ on the 6-year limitation period so it then doesn’t matter how long the legal process takes after that point – as long as you follow the timeframes set by the courts for each stage of the legal process.
We won the Dawson v Thomson case in September 2014 when the Supreme Court dismissed Thomson’s request to appeal our victory in the Court of Appeal earlier in the year.
Until that point airlines tried to argue you only had two years to bring a claim for flight delay compensation as they argued these cases came under the Montreal Convention – which has a two-year limitation period and covers other travel laws and regulations (including lost baggage claims).
Bott and Co successfully argued that EU261 stated the limitation period for flight delays under the regulation should be whatever the statutory limitation period is in the country the claim is made – which in England and Wales is six years.
It is a common misconception that it must be the airline’s ‘fault’ in order for you to make a claim. The regulation states it must be ‘inherent’ in the normal activity of an airline for a claim to be valid. This debate over the wording and terms of the regulation has been present in a number of high profile cases we’ve won previously.
A delay might not be the fault of the airline but they still have a responsibility to their passengers and the control to do something about it.
For example, one case we won at court involved the driver of a set of motorised steps, for disembarking an aircraft, hitting the side of a plane to cause sufficient damage that the flight was delayed for over 3 hours. We have also won cases where the aircraft on its previous flight was struck by lightning and needed repairing before taking off again, causing a delay over 3 hours.
It wasn’t the airline’s ‘fault’ that these events happened but they are ‘inherent’ in the normal operation of an airline and the airline had the ability to plan for these kind of situations, whether that’s with spare planes and extra crew, or technicians, engineers and spare parts.
The courts say these events are to be expected as part of operating an airline and are therefore inherent in their normal activity and eligible for compensation payments.
There are some instances in which the circumstances are so unusual that they are classed as ‘extraordinary’.
This is the only valid defence an airline has against paying compensation for flight delays and most of the court battles we’ve encountered so far are testing the definition of what is an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.
What is classed as “extraordinary circumstances” is often a grey area, and something the airlines will review when responding to claims directly from passengers.
We have won a number of landmark cases at court to clarify the law for millions of passengers, but despite this the airlines continue to find ways to argue over definitions of extraordinary circumstances, including telling passengers that delays were due to ‘hidden manufacturing defects’ when in fact they were ordinary technical problems that should result in compensation being paid.
What Are Extraordinary Circumstances
The term ‘extraordinary circumstances’ may apply to a number of scenarios where the delay/cancellation was caused by something out of the ordinary; things like:
What Are NOT extraordinary circumstances?
If your long delay was caused by one of the following, you may be entitled to compensation according to EU law:
We have comprehensive information on many circumstances that can sometimes be argued as extraordinary. Our guides on claiming due to bad weather, strike action, staff shortages and illness, and technical defects will provide more in depth information on each area.
How Much Compensation Can I Claim From The Airlines
Flight compensation amounts are set by EU Regulation 261/2004. The amounts are based on the length of the delay and the flight distance. They are not related to the cost of your ticket, so whether you paid £50 or £5000 for your ticket, the amount of compensation stays the same. Our table below outlines the level of compensation available for valid flight delay claims.
The amounts are fixed amounts. This means that even if your flight from Spain to England was delayed for 24 hours, you would only be eligible for the same amount of compensation as someone who was delayed on that same route for three hours.
While this might not seem fair, there has to be a line drawn somewhere and the European Court decided the minimum time for delays would be 3 hours for the fixed compensation to kick in.
Flight Delay Compensation Amounts
|Flight Distance||Length Of Delay||Compensation Amount|
|Up to 1,500km||3 hours or more||€250|
|1,500km-3,500km||3 hours or more||€400|
|Over 3,500km||Between 2 EU Member States & 3 hours or more||€400|
|Over 3,500km||3-4 hours||€300|
|Over 3,500km||More than 4 hours||€600|
As this is an EU regulation, the compensation amounts are in Euros and, depending on the strength of the pound, your actual recovered amount in Sterling may vary.
For example, in 2014 the maximum 600 Euro compensation amount was equal to around £420. After the drop in the value of the pound, those 600 Euros bought as much as £520 so there are big differences – especially if you’re travelling as a family or group.
Care And Assistance
If you have incurred costs such as food and drink, hotel accommodation, or taxi fares, as a result of a delay, then it should be possible to recover these expenses as part of your claim for EU261 compensation. Just let us know in the comments section of the online claim form that you wish to recover expenses as well and our legal team will look into it on your behalf. Alternatively, you may download our expenses letter template and claim direct from the airline.
As part of the ‘care and assistance’ obligations on airlines, they should cover all these costs at the time of the delay, but we do see cases where passengers have had to use their own money to buy food and drink or get taxis to and from the airports.
Care and assistance starts after delays of 2 hours (for flights under 1,500km) or 3 hours (for flights between 1,500km and 3,500km) or 4 hours for flights over 3,500km, and regardless of the delay reason, the airline must provide you with:
We’ve created a downloadable flash card as a handy reminder to cut out and keep or store on your phone to show to airport staff and let them know you are aware of your rights.
Care and Assistance – Your Rights When Your Flight Is Delayed
|Flight Distance||Length of Delay|
|Up to 1,500km||After 2 hours|
|1,500km-3,500km||After 3 hours|
|Over 1,500km and between two EU States||After 3 hours|
|Over 3,500km||After 4 hours|
How Long Does It Take To Claim?
How long it takes to claim usually depends on the airline. It’s a bit like asking how long is a piece of string! If the airline agrees they should pay up, then a quicker settlement is possible. However, they have the legal right to defend each and every claim – all the way to the Supreme Court if they want to – as we saw with a couple of well-documented landmark claims we won in 2014.
Unfortunately we can’t be certain when you submit your flight delay claim what approach the airline will take. We often receive instructions from passengers who have wasted valuable time and effort trying to claim direct and being ignored or fobbed off with a range of excuses by the airlines.
What we can say is that no other company settles as many claims as quickly as we do – so if you want your money fast with no hassle, we give you the best chance.
Over half our claims settle within 30 days and we don’t mess about with airlines; we issue court proceedings on day 30 if we haven’t had a positive response from them. This is the earliest point we can issue and comply with court rules on giving the airlines a fair chance to respond.
On cases where we’ve already had successful claims on that flight, we can settle in as little as a couple of days as we have direct contact with the legal departments of airlines due to the number of cases we submit to them.
Some cases, such as those we took to the Supreme Court, can take years to settle – but there is never any additional cost to you when claiming with us.
Our clients believe that it’s easier to claim with us and pay the fee when we win, than spend wasted time and effort doing it themselves, often without success.
Because we submit so many claims against airlines on behalf of passengers, we have a regular dialogue with their legal departments, making it much more likely that a quicker settlement is reached.
If you were to claim yourself, you might wait weeks, or months, for a response – if you get one at all. You then may well need to issue court proceedings and this process can take many more months. If you’re issued proceedings correctly and then you’re successful, it can still take weeks for the airline to pay up.
If you’re not sure about the validity of your delay for compensation then the best advice is to input the details in our free flight claim calculator. You will be given an instant decision as to whether your claim is valid and our legal team will do additional searches and eligibility tests if you decide to use our services to claim.
There are a number of things to keep in mind to know whether your delay is eligible.
First of all it is the delay length – and remember this is the delay on arrival (the time the aircraft doors open, not the time it touches down or you get into the terminal).
You also need to find out the reason for the delay to make sure it doesn’t come under the definition of ‘extraordinary circumstance’. Sometimes the airline changes the reason for the delay and sometimes they may say it was ‘extraordinary’ when it might not actually be extraordinary according to the courts.
To be certain, or for a second opinion, put your flight details into our claim calculator. If everything looks good then you have an eligible claim for flight delay compensation.
What Are My Claiming Options
There are a number of ways you can claim. We recommend using a specialist solicitor on a no-win no-fee basis as this protects you from any adverse costs or from being out of pocket when issuing court proceedings against the airline.
Using Bott and Co as the largest flight delay law firm also gives you the benefit of our leading expertise in this area of law in the UK. No other firm has gone to the lengths we have to take on airlines in securing passenger rights at the highest courts in the land.
Our experience shows it’s usually quicker (and cheaper if you cost in your own time and court fees) using our service than doing it yourself, but if you want to have a go then you can do – here’s our quick step by step guide:
- 1. Check if your claim is eligible for compensation using our flight delay calculator.
- 2. Download the flight delay compensation template letter we’ve provided on our website.
- 3. Complete the relevant details on the template letter and print it off to send in the post. (Make sure you have the correct address and name for the airline)
- 4. Follow up the letter with another if you do not hear anything after 30 days (some mediation services give the airlines 8 weeks to respond).
- 5. If you still don’t hear back from the airline then try contacting the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to explain the situation to them. (While the CAA can give you their opinion on if they think the claim is valid, they have no enforcement power over the airline to make them pay up. They also rely on their own unofficial list of extraordinary circumstances, which we’ve defeated numerous times in court).
- 6. If the response is not to your satisfaction, you can issue court proceedings. There is a fee to pay up front for issuing and you won’t recover this if you lose the case. Make absolute certain you are issuing proceedings against the correct business name and address of the airline – or your claim could be thrown out of court. We’ve had passengers come to us for help after this exact scenario.
- 7. If the airline defends the claim, you will need to go to court on the given day to present your case. This will almost always put you up against an experience legal team of lawyers and barristers representing the airline.
If all that sounds a little daunting then our recommended approach of a no-win no-fee solicitor is probably for you. The process in that case is quite different:
- 1. Submit your claim through our flight delay calculator
- 2. Await payment from Bott and Co.
1. Can I claim with you if I’ve already sent a letter to the airline?
Yes, you can let us pick up your claim at any point whether it’s from the very start, after you’ve sent a letter to the airline or during a dialogue with the airline. A lot of our customers receive letters from the airlines stating that a flight compensation claim isn’t valid when it actually is. We’re very quickly able to prove otherwise to the airlines and turn the claim into a successful one.
2. Can I claim with you if I’ve already sent a letter to the CAA?
Yes. Similarly to us picking up the case with the airlines, if the CAA haven’t managed to claim compensation for you, we can help you achieve a successful outcome.
3. Can I Claim If I’ve Forgotten My Flight Details?
Bott and Co has a huge flight database with the details of millions of flights on record. Luckily that means that, even if you don’t know your flight number, there is a good chance that we will be able to trace it for you.
Of course we will need some information to get us started – If you can tell us the name of the airline you flew with, the time of your flight, the date you travelled and the airports that you were travelling to and from, these are all really useful.
It is definitely useful if you have an old boarding pass or email booking confirmation that you can send to us as this will help us prove that you were on the flight. However, in some cases, there are some additional steps that we can take to provide evidence that you were on the flight, should this be necessary.
4. Can I claim for other members of my family or friends who were also on the flight?
Yes, we’ll need their personal information as well but you can manage their claim. If you are under 18 then you’ll need someone to claim on your behalf. You can also claim for a child who didn’t have their own seat as long as they weren’t travelling free of charge.
5. Do I have to go to court?
If Bott and Co are acting on your behalf we will attend all hearings on your behalf and there will be no requirement for you to attend any hearings.
6. Can I claim if the flight was delayed due to bad weather?
Depends! If the bad weather is considered an extreme situation and leads to air traffic control decisions on the number of flights allowed in and out of an airport then it might not be eligible for compensation. Bad weather must be ‘freak’ or ‘wholly exceptional’ for an airline to use it as a defence against paying compensation.
7. Can I claim if there was a technical fault?
8. Can I claim if the flight was cancelled due to underbooking?
Depends! If you were notified of the cancellation more than 14 days before the departure date then the airline is not obliged to pay you compensation under the regulation.
9. Can I claim if the pilot or crew were late?
Yes! Staffing issues causing flight delays are claimable under the regulation. If the crew or pilots are late or ill then you can still claim. The only exception could be if they were taken ill on board the flight causing a medical emergency.
10. Can I claim if the plane was late arriving from its previous destination?
Almost always! If you were delayed because the previous flight was late arriving then you should be able to claim compensation. This is true even for things like lightning strikes, or crew and staffing issues. If the delay was due to an extraordinary circumstance such as extreme weather (volcanic ash cloud) or air traffic control decisions then it may be more difficult to claim so get in touch and we’ll take a look at the details on your specific case.
11. Can I claim if I was diverted to a different airport?
Depends! If the diversion wasn’t because of an extraordinary circumstance like a medical emergency on board or extreme weather conditions, then you should be able to claim. Even if the delay was because of an extraordinary circumstance, the airline should cover all costs of getting you to your original destination.
12. Can I claim if I missed a connecting flight?
Sometimes! This is a complex area of the law because it can depend on the timings or if it was booked at the same time as part of the same journey. The best thing to do with these cases is submit the details so our flight delay team can take a closer look.
Take a look at our comprehensive list of frequently asked questions by passengers thinking of claiming compensation.
We helped over 345,000 passengers and recovered millions of pounds in compensation for passengers from well over 100 different airlines. No company in the UK has a better track record or reputation for success in this area of law than Bott and Co.
Case Study 1:
We recovered £818.78 from Thomson Airways for a couple delayed coming back to Manchester from their holiday in Croatia – despite the fact the couple had previously lost the case in court.
Elaine and Nicholas Holdaway had been given the runaround by the airline (who claimed extraordinary circumstances) and then the Civil Aviation Authority, despite agreeing they should be paid compensation, said they needed to speak to the National Enforcement Body in Croatia.
They ultimately had to issue court proceedings but listed the wrong department in their paperwork and the case was thrown out of court. They saw Bott and Co on the Martin Lewis website and contacted us to take the case on. We secured them the compensation they were rightfully owed.
Case Study 2:
We secured £567.32 from easyJet for a couple from Cornwall who were told by the airline that their delay was less than 3 hours and so it didn’t qualify for compensation under EU261/2004.
In fact the delay was just over 3 hours and our technology and data proved that point – so we took on the claim when we were contacted by Philip and Karen Walsh as they had hit a brick wall with even the CEO of easyJet telling them they didn’t have a claim.
Case Study 3:
One man was delayed for two days after a Wizz Air flight from Prague was cancelled and after he contacted us for help we recovered £786.77 in compensation. Initially the staff at the airport refused to help but after a group complained they had nowhere to stay for two nights they were given vouchers to stay in a nearby hotel.
Our client, Frank, was so disappointed at the service from Wizz Air that he asked Bott and Co to help him with his claim but pleasantly surprised that we were able to recover compensation from the airline for his delay.
Case Study 4:
A family from Bracknell were delayed over 11 hours on a Monarch flight and we secured £1,542 in compensation for them. Gary Rogers was travelling with young children and elderly parents and the ordeal was highly stressful, he was later fobbed off by the airline when he tried to make a claim under EU261/2004.
Fortunately he found Bott and Co online after researching about issuing court proceedings and used our hassle-free service to make his claim.
Significant Cases We’ve Won
Bott and Co continue to take airlines to court on behalf of passengers and we continue to secure massive victories with billions of pounds at stake.
Some of the key landmark victories are summarised below:
Huzar v Jet2
The case of Huzar v Jet2 is still probably the biggest case in legal history in the UK relating to flight delay compensation. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court but despite the airline’s best efforts Bott and Co were successful in defending passenger rights on behalf of millions of air travellers.
Jet2 tried to argue that a technical problem with the aircraft constituted ‘extraordinary circumstances’ – an airline’s only legitimate defence in paying out on claims.
Bott and Co successfully argued that the technical issue was not out of the ordinary and was inherent in the normal operation of an airline.
This case was huge for millions of passengers as it meant that airlines couldn’t argue a technical fault was an extraordinary circumstance and it opened up billions of pounds for air travellers across the world.
Having lost his claim in court initially Mr Huzar approached Bott and Co to represent him at appeal level. Bott and Co won the appeal case and the airline then appealed this decision meaning the case would go to the Court of Appeal in London.
The airline lost this hearing and after requesting permission to appeal that decision, the Supreme Court ultimately refused this request in October 2014, thereby quashing any further action by Jet2.
Dawson v Thomson
This case was another huge victory for Bott and Co on behalf of millions of consumers and prevented the airlines from restricting the period passengers can claim to two years.
The case centered on the limitation period, and where Bott and Co argued it was six years as stated in the EU Regulation 261, Thomson argued it should be two years based on the Montreal Convention – a set of rules that deal with other travel-related claims.
The airline in this case had initially argued the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances but then changed their argument to a limitation point and said Mr Dawson had not brought his claim to court in time.
Mr Dawson won his claim but the airline took the case to the Court of Appeal and ultimately the Supreme Court but victories for Bott and Co meant that passengers could continue to claim for delays up to six years old.
Goel & Trivedi v Ryanair
Even though we won the Dawson v Thomson case proving passengers had 6 years to bring a claim for compensation, Ryanair continued to argue that it was only 2 years because they wrote that clause into their terms and conditions.
On 21st August 2015 a senior judge found in favour of consumers as he ruled that airlines cannot restrict the length of time passengers have to bring a claim for flight delay compensation by setting their own timeframes in their smallprint.
The decision in the case of Goel & Trivedi v Ryanair affected millions of passengers and many claims had been put on hold waiting for the outcome of this case – which was worth millions of pounds to consumers.
If the airline had won the case then it would have enabled all other airlines to put a two year (or possibly shorter) time limit on making claims for flight delay compensation.