Flight Cancellation Compensation – A Guide To Claiming
This is our ultimate one-stop guide to claiming flight compensation for cancelled flights. We give you the benefit of our extensive legal knowledge and experience in this area of law.
The rules for flight cancellations (and the compensation amounts) are slightly different to flight delays and it’s important you know what you are claiming for if you choose to do it yourself.
This comprehensive guide provides the answers to the most common questions asked about how to claim flight cancellation compensation against the airlines. We hope you find it useful. Please feel free to contact us if there’s anything missing or you need further information. We’d be happy to help.
Quickly jump between each section by using the links below, or go straight to the most accurate flight claim calculator available and see if you have a claim in seconds.
EU Regulation 261/2004 was created in 2005 to protect passenger rights as it was felt airlines were not doing enough to look after their customers.
Flight cancellation claims are different from other flight compensation claims and there is a different set of criteria around the cancellation details and circumstances which affect your eligibility for cancellation compensation.
Most flight cancellations are due to bad weather. There are lots of weather conditions that can lead to flights being cancelled by either the airline or the Air Traffic Control (ATC).
We will explain some of the typical weather conditions that can lead to flight cancellations in more detail below, but first we’ll explain what you rights are when you find your flight has been cancelled.
How Much Compensation Can I Claim For A Cancelled Flight
If your flight was cancelled departing from the EU or arriving in the EU on an EU airline then you could be entitled to up to 600 euros in compensation depending on what happened with the flight.
The actual claim amounts for flight cancellations vary depending on how much notice the airline gives you of the cancellation.
If the flight was cancelled between 7 and 14 days before the original departure date then in addition to re-routing or a refund you would be entitled to compensation.
Flight Cancellation Compensation Amounts (No replacement flight offered)
|Flight Distance||Compensation Amount|
|Up to 1,500km||€250|
|Over 1,500km and between two EU States||€400|
What Are My Rights For Flight Cancelled More Than 14 days Before Departure Date?
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.
What Are My Rights For Flight Cancelled Between 7 and 14 Days Before Departure Date?
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.
Our table below shows the level of compensation you may be able to claim.
Flight Cancellation Compensation Amounts – (Flights Cancelled Within 7-14 Days and Replacement Flight Offered)
|Flight Distance||Length Of Delay||Compensation Amount|
|Up to 1,500km||Replacement flight departs more than 2 hours early||€125|
|Up to 1,500km||Replacement flight arrives more than 4 hours late||€250|
|1,500km to 3,500km||Replacement flight departs more than 2 hours early||€200|
|1,500km to 3,500km||Replacement flight arrives more than 4 hours late||€400|
|Over 1,500Km and between two EU States||Replacement flight departs more than 2 hours early||€200|
|Over 1,500Km and between two EU States||Replacement flight arrives more than 4 hours late.||€400|
|Over 3,500km||Replacement flight departs more than 2 hours early||€300|
|Over 3,500km||Replacement flight arrives more than 4 hours late||€600|
What Are My Rights For A Flight Cancelled Less Than 7 Days Before Departure Date?
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.
For flights cancelled less than 7 days before departure the compensation payments are set out below:
Flight Cancellation Compensation Amounts – (Flights within 7 Days and Replacement Flight Offered)
|Flight Distance||Length Of Delay||Compensation Amount|
|Up to 1,500km||Replacement flight departs more than 1 hour early||€125|
|Up to 1,500km||Replacement flight arrives more than 2 hours late||€250|
|1,500km to 3,500km||Replacement flight departs more than 1 hour early||€200|
|1,500km to 3,500km||Replacement flight arrives 2-3 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 departs more than 1 hour early||€200|
|Over 1,500Km and between two EU States||Replacement flight arrives 2-3 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 departs more than 1 hour early||€300|
|Over 3,500km||Replacement flight arrives 2-4 hours late||€300|
|Over 3,500km||Replacement flight arrives more than 4 hours late||€600|
What is EU Reg 261?
EU Reg 261 is an European Regulation that applies to flights departing from the UK on any airline or flights arriving into the UK on a European airline.
The regulation was originally created to combat instances where airlines were overbooking flights on the assumption not everyone would turn up for boarding and then denying boarding to some passengers when the plane was too full.
Flight cancellations were incorporated into the regulation and financial compensation amounts were set up to encourage airlines to operate as efficiently as possible while still looking after their passengers.
Airlines then started describing flights as ‘delayed’ rather than cancelled in order to avoid paying out compensation to passengers.
Following some high profile court cases the regulation was effectively extended to incorporate long delays of more than three hours as well as flight cancellations.
It’s not usually as easy to recover compensation for a cancelled flight as it is for delays and denied boarding, but our legal team have a fantastic track record of taking airlines to court and winning on behalf of consumers.
Flight Cancellations Due To Bad Weather
Flight cancellations are most commonly caused by bad weather conditions at either the departure airport or at the arrival location.
Sometimes the bad weather affects a flight on an earlier route so even when the weather is okay the departure and arrival airports the flight could still be cancelled.
If there has been a flight cancellation due to bad weather you might still be able to claim compensation as long as the weather isn’t considered ‘freak’ and therefore an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.
We’ve seen instances in the UK where severe fog has caused a number of cancelled flights in may airports. These cancellations are usually as a result of the Air Traffic Control decisions to restrict the number of planes taking off and landing in bad weather for safety reasons.
If the cancelled flights are as a result of an Air Traffic Control decision then it may be more difficult to recover compensation.
You would of course still be entitled to care and assistance from the airline even if the weather is an extraordinary circumstance. This includes overnight accommodation, food and drink in relation to the delay time and transport to and from the airport and your accommodation where relevant.
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|
Sometimes even extreme weather conditions can be eligible for compensation claims if the flight has been cancelled. A good example of this is a case we won where the flight couldn’t make it to the destination airport because of snow. However the destination was a ski resort in ski season so we successfully argued in court this could not be extraordinary to have snow in a ski resort.
Flight Cancellations Due To Industrial Action:
Flight cancellations due to industrial action such as staff strikes might be eligible for compensation depending on the outcome of some appeal cases to be heard later in 2017.
Usually Air Traffic Control strikes would not be claimable as they would be considered as an extraordinary circumstance. This view might change in time depending on the results of court cases that are coming up.
Up to this point the part of the EU Regulation 261/2004 on strikes hasn’t been tested in court as much as other aspects of cancellation reasons in terms of flight compensation. This means that it’s difficult to recover compensation if a flight was cancelled due to a strike – however it’s not impossible so get in touch to find out if we can help you.
Flight Cancellations Due To A Third Party
Sometimes flights can be cancelled due to issues arising from the actions of a third party – a company other than the airline.
If your flight has been cancelled because of something a third party has done then you could be eligible for flight compensation under Regulation 261/2004.
We have seen cases where a company responsible for operating the stairs that allow passengers to embark and disembark an aircraft have actually driven into the plane causing damage that needed repairing.
Even though it is a third party that has created the problem leading to the cancellation, it is the airlines responsibility under Regulation 261/2004 to look after their passengers and pay compensation when the flight is delayed or cancelled.
Flight Cancellations Due To Airline Staff or Crew Issues
There are several reasons a flight could be cancelled because of staff or pilot and crew issues. The most common reasons are crew sickness and staff going over their maximum working hours without a break – this usually happens after a long delay.
If your flight is cancelled because of staff and crew issues then you should be able to claim flight cancellation compensation.
Sometimes flight crew can get ill and if this means there are not enough crew to safely manage the aircraft and passengers then the airline may be forced to cancel the flight.
In this instance the airline should make provisions to have crew on standby for covering staff illness. If they can’t get a replacement crew to the flight in time then the flight may be claimable whether it is delayed or cancelled.
Often a long delay on a flight for any reason can mean that the crew would go over their maximum permitted hours if they were to continue working on the delayed flight. This might lead the airline to cancel the flight if it can’t find a replacement crew in time and this should then be a claimable flight under Regulation 261/2004.
Flight Cancellations Due To Airline Technical Defects
The most common reason for compensation claims under EU 261 is technical faults or defects. There was a landmark court case that went to the Supreme Court in 2014 to clarify the issue of whether technical defects were eligible for flight cancellation compensation under the Regulation. Fortunately Bott and Co were successful in the case of Huzar V Jet2 leading to billions of pounds of compensation made available to millions of flight passengers.
Under current legislation the only time a technical problem would be an extraordinary circumstance is if it was a manufacturing defect that resulted in a mass recall of parts and ground of fleets of aircraft. Other than this, any technical defect that leads to a flight cancellation should be eligible for cancellation compensation as part of EU 261.
Claiming Compensation If You’re Put On Another Airline
If the original flight was delayed and you are put on an alternative flight with a different airline that arrives more than 3 hours late then you can claim against your original airline, rather than the replacement one.
If the replacement flight you were given is a result of a flight cancellation then you could be entitled to claim compensation if the new flight arrived even less than three hours late. The various permutations are included in the tables below. Get in touch if you’re not sure how your particular flight fits in to this table.
How To Claim Compensation For A Cancelled Flight
There are two main ways to claim compensation for a cancelled flight – the hard way or the ‘easy way’.
Submitting your flight details through our online calculator means you don’t have to do anything else or pay any legal costs to recover your compensation.
Our expert legal team will look into your specific flight details and assess whether it is a case we can issue legal proceedings on.
We will handle everything – including any legal costs and simply send you the compensation once we have agreed a settlement with the airline.
The reason we can make the process so smooth is because of our expert legal team and track record in defeating the airlines. We know how to argue your case in court and deal with complex defences by the airlines legal department and barristers.
You can of course try claiming yourself direct with the airline, but be prepared to take it all the way to court if you don’t hear back or they try to fob you off.
We have created a self-claim template letter for you to complete and send to the airline. If this does not work then let us know and we will take up the claim on your behalf.
For a direct comparison of the services we offer versus going it alone have a look at the table below.
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|