Read our guide below to find out about your claiming rights and how much compensation you may be able to claim.
A Guide To Claiming Flight Delay Compensation
As the UK’s leading flight delay compensation service, recovering over £54m, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide answering all the questions you may have on how to make a successful claim against the airlines.
Jump around between sections or go straight to our flight delay compensation checker and find out instantly if you qualify for up to €600 per person in compensation.
EU Regulation 261 is a European law that was put in place to protect airline passenger rights. This includes protection for passengers whose flights were delayed over three hours or were cancelled. The law states that passengers are entitled up to €600 in compensation depending on their circumstances.
The law protects anyone who experienced a delay over the last six years. This means that if you, or any member of your family, including children and infants, whether you paid for your ticket or not may be entitled to compensation. The law covers flights booked as package holidays too.
List of Requirements To Claim Flight Compensation.
To see if you can claim, you must be able to answer YES to the following questions.
- Did your flight take off from a EU airport? (If you took off from the EU, it doesn’t matter what airline you are on.) Or
- Did your flight land at a EU airport? (If you flew into the EU, you must be on a EU based airline to claim.)
- Were you delayed for more than 3 hours from the original scheduled time of arrival?
- Was the delay the airline’s fault and not “extraordinary circumstances”? (see below for more details)
- Was the flight in the last 6 years?
If you aren’t sure or can’t remember if the criteria above apply to your flight then use our free flight delay claim checker to get an instant result on whether your delay is claimable. All you need is your flight number and the date of travel.
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||3 hours or more & between 2 EU Member States||€400|
|Over 3,500km||3-4 hours||€300|
|Over 3,500km||4 hours||€600|
The compensation amounts are fixed, and are not related to the cost of the ticket. That includes passengers who may have flown on air miles or infants who flew for free as the compensation is in place to compensate passengers for time and inconvenience.
What Other Compensation Can I Claim For?
Airlines are legally obliged to prove “care and assistance” to passengers on delayed flight.
For delays over two hours (three hours in the case of long haul flights) the airline must give each passenger the following:
- Free meals and refreshments
- Two phone calls or emails
- Free hotel accommodation and transport to the hotel if the delay is overnight
What Are Extraordinary Circumstances?
On the face of it the regulations are quite straightforward; air passengers are protected by European Regulation 261/2004 and should be awarded compensation for delayed flights.
However, the fact that airlines aren’t paying out on many delays that fall under the protection of the regulation, means than passengers are facing a tricky time trying to recover their compensation.
In addition, there are a number of strict criteria that have to be met before a claim for delayed flight compensation can be made.
Scenarios Which May Be Extraordinary Circumstances
The only defence an airline can have for not paying flight delay compensation is because of “extraordinary circumstances”. The regulation provides examples of extraordinary circumstance such as:
- Acts of terrorism or sabotage
- Industrial action (strikes unrelated to airline such as baggage handlers, or air traffic control)
- Political or civil unrest
- Security risks
- Extreme weather conditions
- Hidden manufacturing defects
Scenarios Which May Not Be Classed As Extraordinary Circumstances
- Airline staff, including pilots and cabin crew being late or if the flight is understaffed.
- Bad weather that affected a previous flight meaning your aircraft was delayed.
- Technical problems with the aircraft (except hidden manufacturing defects or problems caused by sabotage).
- Denied boarding due to the flight being overbooked.
- Any other situation outside of the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ listed above.
Technical Defects Are Not Extraordinary Circumstances
Airlines often argue that technical defects are outside of their control and are therefore extraordinary circumstances as well. We don’t agree and neither does the courts as we’ve won many cases where technical defects were the cause of the delay.
We won the lead case on this point in 2014 at the Court of Appeal.
If an airline has refused you compensation because of a technical defect then we recommend you complete our online claim form and we’ll investigate your case and let you know if we can recover your compensation on your behalf.
Your Claiming Options
Some people say you don’t need a lawyer but when a box of paperwork lands on your doorstep from the defendant law firm just days before your court case full of complex legal arguments, how will you react?
Martin Lewis says that “many simply write a letter and within a week or two are sent wads of cash by the airline – yet others hit a brick wall of rejection” and in our experience the overwhelming majority of people have their claim ignored or rejected by airlines. Martin Lewis’s own survey showed just 2% of Jet2 passengers claiming compensation were actually paid.
We’re here to help the 98% who feel they’ve been fobbed off or ignored and want to see some justice with the airline held to account. Why should you have to take on a multi-billion pound organisation with highly experienced legal teams without any legal assistance whatsoever?
Why Choose Bott and Co?
- 100% No Win No Fee Guarantee
- £54m Claimed For Over 158,000 Passengers
- Save Time And Money Over Issuing Against Airlines Yourself
- Payouts Can Be As Short As 30 Days*
We’ve taken up claims where the passenger has issued court proceedings only to find themselves swamped under legal processes, jargon, and very expensive barristers acting on behalf of the airlines.
We obviously think using Bott and Co is the best option. We’ve won numerous cases where passengers had previously been refused compensation and unlike claims companies, we will go all the way to court on your behalf.
Our technical flight compensation lawyers have assisted and advised over 350,000 passengers since 2013.
We’ve made the claim process very simple for you. Enter your flight details on our flight delay claims checker and we’ll tell you instantly whether you have a valid claim. You then enter the passenger information and we’ll begin working on recovering your compensation.
We have the only instant claim calculator in existence with no signup, email submission, or obligation to use. We’ve tested the others ourselves and there is not a law firm in the country with more success against airlines under EU 261 than Bott and Co so we’re confident we can help you.
If you want to try and claim yourself first then you can write to the airlines using our free template letter with details of your flight. We would recommend not sending original documents and keep a record of all correspondence in case you need to go to court.
There are costs for filing claims in the small claims court and the airlines are represented by expensive and very experienced law firms. It’s highly likely you will receive a defence totalling several hundred pages from their barristers, sometimes only a few days before the court date.
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|
We’ve helped over 390,000 passengers with their claims since 2013, and in that time we’ve heard some horror stories of ruined holidays, missed business meetings and honeymoon disasters.
We continue to highlight these cases in order to bring the situation to the public’s attention with the hope airlines will improve their service.
A mother and her six-year-old son were stranded at Dusseldorf Airport with no help or assistance when their Flybe flight was delayed for more than four hours. Despite Flybe dismissing Ms Hall’s claim when she contacted them directly, after instructing Bott and Co, we recovered €500 for her and her son within six days.
A family had their holiday ruined after being delayed for 12 hours in Turkey waiting for a Thomas Cook flight, eventually being flown to Manchester airport and driven by coach back to East Midlands. Mrs Sheriston told Bott and Co that ‘the flight home is now the lasting memory…this delay ruined the holiday’. Having not received compensation from Thomas Cook, Mrs Sheriston was delighted when Bott and Co recovered €400 for each member of the family within 14 days of being instructed.
We have even settled a claim for a lawyer who contacted us after hearing us talk about flight delay compensation on BBC Radio 4 and who had been unable to successfully claim from easyJet despite trying for five years.
Bott and Co recovered his compensation within a month of taking on the claim.
How Brexit Affects Your Claiming Rights
Right now you’re still covered by Regulation 261/2004 and you can benefit from the air passenger rights for care and assistance during delays of more than two hours (depending on the distance of the flight) and for claims for compensation of up to €600 for delays of more than three hours (depending on the flight distance).
If you have experienced a flight delay of more than three hours in the last six years and are yet to put in a claim for compensation then we would recommend you submit your details through our flight delay calculator as soon as possible while we have a clearer picture of your passenger rights.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve represented over 94,000 passengers since 2013, and not surprisingly we get asked a number of questions on the laws, airlines responses, and flight delay compensation in general. The most common questions we hear are;
How Far Back Can I Claim?
The EU regulations allow you to claim for any flight delay since the regulations were introduced in 2005 but as the limitation date for this type of claim is 6 years if it was to go to court, it is highly unlikely an airline will pay out for flights older than 6 years.
Some airlines are arguing that limitation should be only 2 years as per the Montreal Convention but this is not correct. We are handling the lead case on this point at the Court of Appeal in 2014 to attempt to get this confirmed for the benefit of passengers with flight delays more than 2 years old.
How Long Does The Claim Process Take?
The length of time it takes for the process to be completed depends on the route that you take.
The airlines do not have to respond to you within an official time limit, and in some cases letters sent directly to the airlines have been ignored.
It can be a long drawn out process in cases where you have a valid claim but have the airline dispute the claim.
The CAA have publicly stated that they have a backlog of claims and that it may be an extended period of time before you heard back from them.
The length of time a claim can be settled depends on the claim and the airline involved. More often than not, the process is months, not weeks, and in some cases years.
The process is sped up substantially when using Bott and Co. We issue court proceedings if we do not receive a response from the airline within 30 days. Our current record for successfully claiming is 4 days, while on average it takes us 11 weeks.
Can I Claim if my flight was diverted to a different airport?
If your flight was diverted to a different airport then you may be able to claim compensation if you arrived at your final destination more than 3 hours later than planned.
However, you will not be entitled to compensation if the diversion/delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances. In the case of a diversion this is often caused by bad weather, lightning strikes, and medical emergencies, all of which are classed as extraordinary circumstances.
Can I Claim if I was put on a different airline?
If your flight is delayed and you’re put on another flight with another airline, which arrives more than 3 hour late then you’re still entitled to claim compensation against the airline that was supposed to operate your first flight
Can I Claim if I accept a booking for a different flight?
The most important question is what time the flight arrived. If the flight departed more than 3 hours late, but then made up time in the air, thus landing less than 3 hours late then you cannot claim compensation. If however you departed 3 or more hours late and also arrived 3 or more house late then you are entitled to compensation.
Can I Claim if I missed a connecting flight?
If you have more than 1 flight booked on the same booking then you are entitled to claim compensation if you arrive at your final destination more than 3 hour late, even if the initial delay was delayed less than 3 hours.
Take for example a passenger who is booked to fly from London to Sydney via Dubai. Their flight to Dubai is delayed by last 30 minutes; however this causes them to miss their connecting flight to Sydney. Instead they’re put on a replacement flight later in the afternoon and they eventually arrive at Sydney 4 hours later than planned.
In that example the passenger is entitled to compensation of €600 even though the delay to Dubai was only 30 minutes.
Can I claim for an infant?
You can claim for an infant as long as you paid something for their ticket. This applies even if they didn’t have their own seat and even if you only paid a small amount for their ticket.
Can I claim even though I didn’t pay for my ticket?
Yes, you can still claim as long somebody paid for the ticket, i.e. you were not travelling free of charge. It is the passenger that is entitled to compensation, not the person that paid for the ticket.
How much does it cost to make my own claim?
If you wish to claim yourself then you will have to pay the Court fee, allocation questionnaire fee and hearing fee.
The Court fee varies depending on the amount you are claiming but can be as high as £245 if you have 10 or more passengers.
The allocation questionnaire fee is typically £45.00 and the hearing fee is £150.00.
I’m worried about ticket prices increasing if I claim.
Don’t worry! Because of the very low number of instances that airlines have to pay out on, the impact on ticket prices is negligible. First and foremost the airlines should not be passing the cost on to consumers, the Regulation is there to make sure they improve their service and passing the cost on to you to continue operating as they were is not in the spirit of the legislation.
More importantly, even if 100% of people eligible for compensation were paid by the airlines, this is only the equivalent of £2.50 on each ticket. At the moment the figures are around only 2% of people claiming so there is minimal effect on ticket prices.
What is the aim of these regulations?
These regulations were put in place to protect passengers and they have been fought throughout Europe over the last 8 years. Since the Nelson judgment was handed down on the 23rd of October 2012 there has been a marked change in the attitude of airlines in the Netherlands.
Airlines have acknowledged their liability under the regulations, acknowledge that they have ran their arguments to the highest authority and appear to have come to the conclusion that they must either change their business practise or deal with their liability.
Airlines have acknowledged their liability under the regulations, acknowledge that they have ran their arguments to the highest authority and appear to have come to the conclusion that they must either change their business practise or deal with their liability. There have been stark examples of airlines changing their schedules, making themselves better organised and as a result providing a better service :-
Between the 1st of July and 22nd of August 2011 KLM flew 32132 flights and had 286 flights which qualified for compensation – ie. Were delayed more than 3 hours, or cancelled. Similarly, Transavia flew 6334 flights and had 60 which qualified.
Between the same comparable period in 2013 (1st of July to 22nd of August) KLM flew 33820 flights and had 238 which qualified for compensation – so despite flying 5.25% more flights they have had 48 fewer qualifying flights (16.8%).
For Transavia, they flew 6538 flights and had 42 which qualified for compensation – so 3.2% more flights and 30% less qualifying flights.
These are the regulations being applied properly leading to better protection for passengers. This has to be the aim for all of us in the UK determined to fight for passenger’s rights.
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