flight cancellation claims

Flight Cancellation Compensation - How To Claim For A Cancelled Flight.

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What Are My Rights If My Flight Has Been Cancelled?

If your flight has been cancelled, you have a right to choose between either a full refund for your flight or to be put on an alternative flight to your destination.

This applies to all passengers regardless of the reason for the cancellation or how long before the flight was scheduled to depart you were told of the cancellation.

Additionally, depending on certain circumstances, you may be entitled to claim compensation under EU Regulation 261.

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EU Regulation 261 states that airlines should inform passengers if their flight is cancelled at least 14 days before the departure date. You may be entitled to claim compensation if the airline did not do this.

Additionally, if the airline offers you a replacement flight that is delayed more than 2 hours, you are entitled to claim compensation for the delay.

EU Regulation 261 was written into UK law at the end of the Brexit transition period, meaning you have exactly the same rights to claim for flight cancellations as you did when the UK were members of the EU.

The only difference is now the compensation will be paid in UK Pounds rather than Euros.

Our guide below will explain your legal rights for claiming refunds and, where applicable, compensation under EU 261.

Can I Claim Compensation For Flight Cancellations Made 14 Days Before Departure?

If a flight is cancelled more than 14 days before it is due to depart, the airline is responsible for providing you with a full refund.

The airline may offer you an alternative flight, either on their airline or another airline. This is known as re-routing.

If you decide to take a re-routed flight and your flight is delayed, the following compensation amounts may apply.

For UK passengers travelling in and out of the UK, the compensation will be paid in UK Pounds.

Flight Cancellation Compensation Amounts In UK Pounds (No replacement flight offered)

Flight Distance Compensation Amount
Up to 1,500km

£220

1,500km to 3,500km

£350

1,500km to 3,500km

£520

If you are claiming compensation for flights outside of the UK, the compensation amounts will be paid in Euros.

Flight Cancellation Compensation Amounts In Euros (No replacement flight offered)

Flight Distance Compensation Amount
Up to 1,500km

€250

1,500km to 3,500km

€400

Over 1,500km and between two EU States

€400

Over 3,500km

€600

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Can I Claim Compensation For Flight Cancellations Made 7-14 Days Before Departure.

If the airline cancels your flight between 7 and 14 days before you were due to depart and you agreed to be re-routed; you could be eligible to claim compensation if the airline does not get you to your destination within a certain timeframe in relation to the arrival time of your original flight.

In this instance, your right to claim compensation is based on how much later you arrived at your destination on the replacement flight than you would have on your original flight.

The amounts you may be able to claim are in the tables below.

For UK passengers travelling in and out of the UK, the compensation will be paid in UK Pounds.

Flight Cancellation Compensation Amounts In UK Pounds – (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

£110

Up to 1,500km Replacement flight arrives more than 4 hours late

£220

1,500km to 3,500km Replacement flight departs more than 2 hours early

£175

1,500km to 3,500km Replacement flight arrives more than 4 hours late

£350

Over 3,500km Replacement flight departs more than 2 hours early

£260

Over 3,500km Replacement flight arrives more than 4 hours late

£520

If you are claiming compensation for flights outside of the UK, the compensation amounts will be paid in Euros.

Flight Cancellation Compensation Amounts In Euros – (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

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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 would be able to claim compensation if your replacement flight arrived later than your original flight would have.

To reflect the more significant inconvenience you may suffer from a cancellation at such short notice, the compensation amounts in these instances are slightly higher than for flights cancelled over seven days before departure.

The amounts you may be able to claim are in the table below.

For UK passengers travelling in and out of the UK, the compensation will be paid in UK Pounds.

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

£110

Up to 1,500km Replacement flight arrives more than 2 hours late

£220

1,500km to 3,500km Replacement flight departs more than 1 hour early

£175

1,500km to 3,500km Replacement flight arrives 2-3 hours late

£175

1,500km to 3,500km Replacement flight arrives more than 3 hours late.

£350

Over 3,500km Replacement flight departs more than 1 hour early

£260

Over 3,500km Replacement flight arrives 2-4 hours late

£260

Over 3,500km Replacement flight arrives more than 4 hours late

£520

If you are claiming compensation for flights outside of the UK, the compensation amounts will be paid in Euros.

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

Can I Claim Compensation If I Miss My Connecting Flight?

The airline is required to refund the full price of your ticket if you miss your connecting flight due to your first flight being cancelled.

However, if you are offered and take an alternative flight, compensation for the amount of time you may be delayed may apply.

The amount of compensation is calculated by how much later you arrive at your final destination than you would have if you had flown your original route.

There are two key points to consider in these situations.

If you booked all flights on the same ticket, it is the airline’s responsibility to get you to your final destination as close to the time that you would have arrived on your original flight.

You can claim compensation if they fail to do so, and the length and cause of the delay mean you’re legally entitled to claim.

However, if you booked the flights on separate tickets, you can only claim for delays that may occur on each individual flight.

What is EU Regulation 261?

EU Regulation 261 is an EU law that came into effect in February 2005.

The UK Government has written the regulation into UK law, so UK passengers are protected just as they were when the UK was an EU member.

UK citizens are now covered by either the UK and EU version of the law. The law that may apply to you will vary depending on your flight route and the airline you flew.

The purpose of the regulation is to protect passengers from poor treatment by airlines when flights were delayed, cancelled, or denied boarding.

EU Regulation 261 was introduced to compensate passengers for the loss of time and inconvenience suffered when they experienced significant disruption to their travel arrangements.

EU Reg 261 requires airlines to compensate passengers when flight delays or cancellations result in passengers reaching their final destination more than three hours later than originally scheduled.

Passengers are only entitled to claim compensation if the delay or cancellation was within the airline’s control.

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To avoid paying compensation, the airline must prove that the delay was caused by an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ and that it took all reasonable steps to prevent the delay.

You are covered by the UK version of the law if your flight:

  • Departed from the UK
  • Arrived in the UK with a UK or EU airline
  • Arrived in the EU with a UK airline.

The EU Version of EU 261 may apply if you’re travelling in Europe. You can claim compensation if your flight:

  • Departed from the EU and arrived in the UK
  • Departed from the UK and arrived in the EU with an EU airline.

This means that some flights will be covered by both UK 261/2004 and EU 261/2004. In these cases, UK passengers should bring their claim to the UK court. Additionally, Non-EU citizens, including British citizens, can claim compensation for delayed flights in Europe that do not depart or arrive in the UK. You can claim if your flight:

  • Departed from the EU and arrived in the EU
  • Departed from the EU with an EU airline.

In these instances, the claim would need to be presented to a European court.

Flights Covered By EU Reg 261/2004

Departing From Arriving To Can I Claim?
Airport inside UK/ EU Airport inside UK/EU

Yes (Claimable for any airline)

Airport inside UK/ EU Airport outside UK/EU

Yes (Claimable for any airline)

Airport outside UK/EU Airport inside UK/EU

Yes (If on an EU based airline)

Airport outside UK/EU Airport outside UK/EU

No

When Does EU Regulation 261 Apply?

You can only claim compensation under EU Regulation if the following apply to your flight.

  • The flight departed in the last six years.
  • The flight was delayed for more than three hours.
  • The delay was not an “extraordinary circumstance.”

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What Are Extraordinary Circumstances?

The term’ extraordinary circumstances’ may apply to events where the cancellation was caused by something out of the ordinary in the day-to-day running of an airline.

The following circumstances would not be considered extraordinary, and you may be able to claim.

  • Bad weather affecting a previous flight, causing your flight to be delayed.
  • The flight is understaffed, or the crew turn up late.
  • Airline staff are on strike.
  • You are denied boarding due to the flight being overbooked
  • The flight is cancelled due to under-booking.
  • Technical problems with the aircraft (except hidden manufacturing defects or problems caused by sabotage)

However, the following would be considered extraordinary, and it is unlikely you would be able to claim.

  • Certain types of bad weather or extreme weather conditions (e.g. volcanic ash cloud, but not heavy snowfall if expected in a particular location.)
  • Hidden manufacturing defects or technical faults with the aircraft that are out of the ordinary.
  • Industrial action (such as strikes unrelated to the airline)
  • Acts of terrorism or sabotage.
  • Security risks.
  • Political or civil unrest.

What is classed as “extraordinary circumstances” is often a grey area and something the airlines will review when responding to passengers’ claims directly.

Typical Scenarios That Cause Flight Cancellations

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 bad weather affects a flight on an earlier route, so even when the weather is okay at 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 several cancelled flights in many airports. These cancellations are usually a result of the Air Traffic Control’s decisions to restrict the number of planes taking off and landing in bad weather for safety reasons.

If the cancelled flights result from an Air Traffic Control decision, 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 At The Airport When Your Flight Is Delayed Or Cancelled

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 hour

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 Or Strikes

Usually, Air Traffic Control strikes would not be claimable as they would be considered an extraordinary circumstance. However, this view might change in time depending on the results of court cases that are coming up.

To date, the part of the EU Regulation 261/2004 relating to strikes hasn’t been tested in court as much as other aspects of cancellation reasons in terms of flight compensation. Unfortunately, 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.

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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, 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 driven into the plane, causing damage that needed repairing.

Even though a third party has created the problem leading to the cancellation, the airline’s responsibility under Regulation 261/2004 is 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, 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, you should be able to claim flight cancellation compensation.

Sometimes flight crew can get ill, and if there are not enough crew to safely manage the aircraft and passengers, the airline may be forced to cancel the flight.

In this instance, the airline should make provisions to have crew on standby to cover staff illness. If they can’t get a replacement crew to the flight in time, 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

One of the most common reason for compensation claims under EU 261 is technical faults or defects.

A landmark court case 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 fault that leads to a flight cancellation should be eligible for cancellation compensation as part of EU 261

How To Claim Compensation For A Cancelled Flight

Submitting your flight details through our online flight compensation 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 on which we can issue legal proceedings.

We will handle everything – including any legal costs, and simply send you the compensation once we have agreed a settlement with the airline.

We can make the process so smooth 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 airline’s 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 Compensation Services At A Glance

Services Bott and Co You
Claim assessed for legal validity under EC Regulation 261/2004
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Actual flight times provided
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Claim letter to submit to airline
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Meteorological conditions checked
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Free advice by telephone and internet
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Claim cross referenced against database of previous successful claims
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Formal legal letter sent to airline
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Drafting of court proceedings included
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 Representation at court included
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 No need for client to attend court
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 Court fees paid on your behalf (Average £150)
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Fee paid for an expert report to combat ‘technical defect’ arguments (Up to £750)
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Fee paid for an expert report to combat ‘weather’ arguments
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No financial risk – no win, no fee
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*Based on 10,211 court proceedings issued between May 2013 and February 2016.