How To Recover Compensation For Airline Delays
It is possible to claim up to 600 Euros per passenger in flight compensation from the airlines for flights that arrive more than three hours late thanks to EU regulation 261/2004 and the major cases won by Bott and Co on behalf of millions of consumers in the UK.
Airlines are obliged to pay passengers financial compensation for long delays of over three hours for the inconvenience the delays cause.
The EU regulation also means airlines must provide care and assistance to passengers regardless of the reason for the delay.
Airlines only have one defence for not paying compensation and that is called an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ by the regulation. Many airlines try to deny compensation to passengers by stating the delay was caused by an extraordinary circumstance when we can usually prove this isn’t the case with technical reports and our legal knowledge.
Airlines only have one defence for not paying compensation and that is called an ‘extraordinary circumstance’
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) statistics show more than 220 million passengers per year use UK airports, most arriving or departing but some “in transit” on connecting flights.
There are many elements of running an airline and it is very complex. Aircraft have millions of parts so delays and technical issues must be part and parcel of operating an airline, particularly when airlines run near 100% capacity to maximise profits.
There can be many reasons for plane delays because of the complexity of the airlines logistics and the technical element of getting and keeping a plane in the air! We find that almost all delays fit into a few main categories, which we’ll look at below.
- Crew/Staff Problems
- Technical Defects
- Industrial Action
- Political Unrest
- Airport-related Delays
Can I Claim For Delays Caused By Crew or Airline Staff Problems?
The most important person on the plane is the pilot. If they are not well enough to operate the aircraft then the airline needs to bring in a replacement pilot – and this can take some time depending on who they have on standby.
The same problem can occur with other members of the flight crew and the plane can’t fly if it doesn’t have enough staff to look after the passengers.
Delays caused by crew sickness or staff going over their working hours should be eligible for compensation.
Just as your company has to make do without you if you call in sick, the airlines also should have contingency plans in place if their pilot or crew get sick and can’t fly.
If the pilot or crew illness delays you by more than three hours on arrival then you should be eligible for flight delay compensation. Sometimes a crew can go over their allotted hours if a plane is delayed too long. All airline crew are only allowed to work a certain number of hours and we’ve seen cases where a delay means the crew will go past this allowance before they arrive at the intended destination.
Delays caused by crew sickness or staff going over their working hours should be eligible for compensation under airline flight delay compensation rules.
Can I Claim For Delays Caused By Technical Defects To The Airplane?
Airlines argued for years that technical defects were ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and they shouldn’t have to pay compensation as a result. We took a case on this point to the Supreme Court in 2014 and won on behalf of millions of consumers.
This means delays caused by technical issues that need repairing before the aircraft is safe to fly again are claimable under the EU regulation on airline delay compensation.
The pilot has the final say on whether they want to take off so it is in his or her interest that you travel on a safe plane – it would be very difficult to find a pilot that is more concerned about arriving on time then arriving at all!
If the technical problem caused knock-on delays then these would become eligible for airline delay compensation under the regulation as the airline should have contingency plans in place to deal with these situations. If the airline has failed to adequately manage its resources in order to eliminate any delay time, then you will be able to claim compensation for your delay.
Can I Claim For Flight Delays Caused by Industrial Action?
If the industrial action is a particular airline’s crew going on strike or baggage handlers, then there may be a chance of claiming compensation.
Can I Claim For Airline Delays Caused by Political Unrest?
Civil unrest or political instability in a destination airport causing a flight delay is usually an extraordinary circumstance.
Issues that become so severe that it affects the operation of the local airport wouldn’t usually be eligible for airline compensation claims.
You may be able to claim for subsequent delays caused as a result of the impact of political unrests delays, but we wouldn’t always be able to take these claims on for you.
Can I Claim For Airline Delays Caused by Airport Related Issues?
Sometimes there can be issues at the airport that impact on the flight schedules. Some of the common problems include IT failures, check-in systems going down, power-cuts, even floods.
When the problems are isolated to a particular airline such as a check-in system going wrong, then that would be claimable for compensation from the particular airline.
What Are My Rights for Claiming Compensation From An Airline?
How much you can claim for flight delays are set by EU Regulation 261 and are fixed amounts based on the distance travelled and the length of the delay.
The fixed compensation values range from 250 Euros for shorter flights and up to a maximum of 600 Euros on long haul flights. A full table below shows the various delay amounts.
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|
Can I Claim Compensation If I’m Denied Boarding The Airplane?
In Short, Yes.
Airline compensation was originally established to deal with instances of denied boarding – when you get bumped from your flight. It happens usually because the airlines overbook flights on the basis that some people won’t show up for one reason or another, but there can be other reasons for getting bumped that may not be claimable.
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.
Can I Claim Compensation For Airlines Overbooking The Flight?
What happens if everybody shows up to fly then the airline has to ask for volunteers to miss that flight and get the next one, or use an alternative route. Volunteers are usually given vouchers in exchange for offering to miss the flight.
If you volunteer to give up your seat because the airline has overbooked the flight then you won’t be able to claim flight delay compensation from the airline under EU261 rules. Instead you should negotiate with the airline for more vouchers and even an upgrade on the alternative flight they arrange. We can’t guarantee you’ll be successful but if you don’t ask you don’t get.
If there aren’t enough volunteers then the airline will decide who to bump from the flight – if they decide to ask you to leave the flight, then this is a case of denied boarding and you can recover compensation from the airline as set out in the table below.
Compensation Amounts For Denied Boarding Claims (No replacement flight offered)
|Flight Distance||Compensation Amount|
|Up to 1,500km||€250|
|Over 1,500km and between two EU States||€400|
Compensation Amounts For Denied Boarding Claims (Replacement Flight Offered)
|Flight Distance||Length Of Delay||Compensation Amount|
|Up to 1,500km||Replacement flight arrives less than 2 hours late||€125|
|Up to 1,500km||Replacement flight arrives more than 2 hours late||€250|
|1,500km to 3,500km||Replacement flight arrives less than 3 hours late||€200|
|1,500km to 3,500km||Replacement flight arrives more than 3 hours late||€400|
|Over 1,500Km and between two EU States||Replacement flight arrives less than 3 hours late||€200|
|Over 1,500Km and between two EU States||Replacement flight arrives more than 3 hours late||€400|
|Over 3,500km||Replacement flight arrives less than 4 hours late.||€300|
|Over 3,500km||Replacement flight arrives more than 4 hours late||€600|
Can I Claim If I’ve Missed My Connecting Flight?
Airlines often use connecting flights for long-haul destinations or to expand their route options. A connecting flight is where you change planes at a stop-off point on your route, for example you might fly from Manchester to New York with British Airways but this route actually goes from Manchester to London and then you change planes to fly from London to New York.
If there is a delay to your first flight that causes you to miss your connecting flight and you ultimately arrive at your intended destination more than three hours late, then you could be entitled to claim compensation from the airline.
In order to be eligible for compensation you must have a through ticket. This is one ticket and reservation for all legs of the journey. If you bought two separate tickets then you wouldn’t qualify for compensation from the airline for a missed connection. If the first flight was more than three hours late on arrival then you could claim as part of the standard delayed flight claim.
Our flight delay calculator can account for connecting flights for any airline. Just add in the details of the connection in the calculator when prompted and submit your claim – our team will pick up the case from that point and get in touch if they need further information.
Can I Claim If My Plane Has Been Diverted?
If your flight was diverted to a different airport then it is the airline’s responsibility to make sure you arrive at your intended destination either by paying for taxi costs or if it’s too far an alternative flight.
You may also be able to claim compensation from the airline under Regulation 261 in certain situations and as long as the diversion wasn’t due to an extraordinary circumstance.
If the aircraft was diverted because of an unexpected flight safety shortcoming then it may be likely that you will be eligible for airline delay compensation.
You would still need to arrive at your final airport destination at least three hours late in order to claim compensation.
How To Claim Compensation From The Airline
Claiming airline compensation for delays should, in theory be relatively simple as the EU regulation means airlines are obliged to pay out compensation – unless the delay was due to an extraordinary circumstance, and that is where it begins to get complicated.
Airlines do have a valid defence for plane delays when they are caused by an extraordinary circumstance under Regulation 261, but there is no set definition of what is and isn’t an extraordinary circumstance. This has resulted in lots of court cases where an airline argues they have a valid defence and we don’t believe they do. We issue over 20,000 sets of court proceedings each year to take airlines to court to make them pay out so it’s not always a simple process.
Passengers who claim directly may also be in dispute with the airline about the true cause of the delay and whether compensation is payable. In these circumstances, you may have to issue court proceedings if you wish to take your claim further.
Claiming With Bott and Co
If you want the ultimate in no-fuss, no-hassle, no-win, no-fee treatment then simply input your flight details into our flight delay compensation calculator and we’ll do the rest. You’ll receive regular email updates and payment of your compensation into your nominated bank account.
Claiming By Yourself
We also provide a template letter of claim for you to use if you want to have a go claiming yourself. If you go down this route then you will need to pay the court fees for issuing proceedings when the time comes.
Your flight must be eligible for compensation so it needs to follow the EU 261 rules for flight delays. It must have departed from an EU airport or arrive into an EU airport on an EU airline and be delayed more than three hours on arrival.
Make sure there were no extraordinary circumstances and use our letter to send to the airline to claim your compensation. If you don’t get a response then you may need to issue court proceedings. If the airline say the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances then send us your flight details and we’ll give you our expert opinion.
Don’t forget, claiming with us eliminates all the stress and hassle and increases your chances of success with no court or legal cash to pay.
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|
The amounts of compensation are fixed by the regulation and range from 250 euros up to 600 euros for delays of more than three hours.
There are slightly different compensation amounts for cancelled flights and denied boarding claims so it’s important to know which bracket your particular claim falls into when claiming yourself.
For short-haul flights (less than 1,500 km) the claim amount is 250 euros for a flight that is more than three hours late. To qualify for the maximum 600 euros the flight must be more than 3,500 km in distance and be more than four hours late. If it is between three and four hours late then you can claim 300 euros per passenger.