When Claiming Gets Complicated: When Can I and When Can’t I Claim For Flight Delay Compensation?

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Whilst awareness is increasing about your basic flight compensation rights under EU Regulation 261, what’s less known is where you stand for claims that are a little more complex.

Perhaps you want to put in a claim for your children, or perhaps your ticket was paid for by your employer because you were on a business trip. If so, where do you stand and can you still make a flight delay compensation claim?

Maybe your airport hold-up was a little more complicated and your flight was cancelled and you accepted an alternative flight on a different airline. Again, where does this leave you? Will you still be entitled to claim flight compensation for your inconvenience?

This guide will talk you through your options when claiming flight compensation gets complicated.

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Can I Claim On Behalf Of My Family Who Also Suffered The Delay?

Were you travelling with family when you were delayed? We often find that families and groups of passengers who are claiming together like to nominate one person to handle the claim on behalf of them all and we are perfectly happy to do this for you.

If you wish to act as the lead passenger for your family’s compensation claim we will still need each individual member of your party to sign their own copy of our Terms and Conditions. It’s also important to note that we will always pay compensation to individual passengers on the claim, as opposed to paying a lump sum to the lead passenger, unless we have written authority from them to do otherwise.

Any compensation awarded is made to the individual who was delayed, regardless of who actually paid for the ticket in the first place. EU261 is designed to compensate delayed passengers for their loss of time and inconvenience, therefore any money awarded is for the delayed individual to spend as they wish – even if you paid for the plane ticket for other members of your party, the money will go to them and not you.

But What If I’m Travelling With Young Kids? Can I Claim Flight Compensation On Behalf Of A Child?

The simple answer is yes! Children have exactly the same right to claim flight compensation as adults do.

Compensation amounts under EU261 are calculated by flight distance and length of delay: It doesn’t matter what age the passenger, everyone is eligible to claim the same amount of money. The only caveat is that the child you are claiming for must have paid something for their ticket, even if it was a reduced fare or they didn’t have their own seat. In other words, you can claim for a child as long as they were not travelling free of charge.

Flight compensation is based around the principle that passengers who have suffered the inconvenience of a flight delay should be compensated for the loss of their time

Children under 18 will, however, need to appoint a litigation friend to handle the claim on their behalf. A litigation friend is a responsible adult who agrees to oversee the claim on the child’s behalf.

Does This Still Apply To Infants? Can I Claim For A Child Under 2?

Yes, the rules we explained above apply to all children, even those under two years old: As long as you paid something for the child’s ticket (even if it was a reduced fare) you can claim. All children and infants will however have to appoint a litigation friend, who is a responsible adult that has agreed to handle the claim on behalf of the child.

We’ve looked at who can claim flight compensation and how you can make a claim for a child so let’s now look at the rules on claiming according to who and how your plan ticket is paid for.

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Someone Else Paid For My Ticket: Can I Claim Flight Compensation If I Didn’t Buy The Ticket Myself?

What happens if you are delayed on a flight that was paid for by someone else? Perhaps you were travelling for business and your employer paid for your ticket or perhaps the trip was paid for by a friend as a present. Can you still claim flight compensation if you didn’t pay for the ticket? And if so, is the compensation paid to the person who booked the flight or the person who travelled?

Regulation EU 261/2004 is designed to compensate delayed passengers for their loss of time and inconvenience – not to reimburse them for the cost of the ticket. As such, as long as you were travelling on a ticket that was paid for and you weren’t flying for free then you can claim flight compensation. In other words it doesn’t matter who paid for your ticket as long as someone paid something then you are entitled to claim delay compensation.

It is important to remember that because the law is there to compensate for the individual passenger’s loss of time, it is the person who was flying that can claim under EU261/2004. The person who paid for the ticket cannot claim flight compensation; only the person who was travelling is entitled to claim.

Meet the team
Coby Benson Head Of Flight Compensation Team At Bott and Co

Coby Benson

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.

What About Air Miles – Can I Still Claim Flight Compensation If I Used Air Miles For The Ticket?

Yes you can. Flight compensation is based around the principle that passengers who have suffered the inconvenience of a flight delay should be compensated for the loss of their time. Therefore as long as you have paid something for your flight, even if that is using air miles, then you are eligible to put in a claim for the relevant amount of compensation you are due under EU261/2004.

The majority of cases we see involve passengers waiting in the airport or being taken to a hotel to wait until their delayed plane arrives to take them to their destination. However, not all flight delays are this simple and sometimes travel plans become very confusing as the result of a late-running plane. Let’s look at your rights when it comes to delays that are not straightforward.

Can I Claim Compensation If My Flight Was Diverted To A Different Airport?

Flight delay regulation is concerned with the time you arrived at your destination: You must arrive three hours or more late to be eligible to claim. If you were diverted and you arrive at your final destination three hours or more late, then you should be able to claim.

It is important to note however that the extraordinary circumstances clause still stands. That is to say that if the diversion was caused by an extraordinary circumstance, such as an on-board medical emergency, then you will not be able to claim delayed flight compensation.

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What Happens If I Agreed To Go On A Later Flight? Can I Claim Flight Compensation If I Got A Later Flight With The Same Airline?

Yes! One of the key elements in EU261/2004 claims is not how long you were delayed in taking off, but how long you were delayed in landing: You need to have arrived three hours or more after your scheduled arrival time to be eligible to claim delayed flight compensation. If your flight meets this ‘test’ then you should qualify for compensation, even if you agreed to travel on a later plane with the same airline.

That means that even if you accepted a later flight with your air carrier you will still be able to claim flight compensation if the replacement flight arrived three hours or more after the scheduled arrival time of your original plane.

It’s important to remember that just because your plane has left more than three hours late, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will have landed at your destination more than three hours late: On occasion, often due to favourable weather conditions, planes can make up time in the air.

So for example, your replacement plane may have departed 3 ½ hours after you were scheduled to leave on your original booking but the pilot makes up time in the air so that your plane only lands two hours and 58 minutes late: In this case you would not be able to claim compensation against neither the original air carrier, nor the airline operating the replacement flight.

I Agreed To Go On A Later Flight With Another Airline: Can I Claim Flight Compensation If I Was Put On A Replacement Flight With A Different Airline?

Your entitlement to claim compensation depends on the time that your replacement flight arrived at your destination, regardless of the airline you were flying on: You must have arrived three hours or more after the time your original flight was scheduled to land in order to qualify to claim.

In some cases the replacement flight leaves more than three hours after the original flight was due to leave but makes up time in the air, actually arriving under three hours after the original scheduled arrival time. In this case you would not be able to claim flight compensation.

If you have booked with one airline but ended up flying with another, who would you make your claim against? Even though you ended up flying with another carrier, you would still put your claim in against the original airline that you made your booking with.

Can I Claim If I Missed A Connecting Flight?

What are your rights if you suffer a flight delay on a journey that involves taking a connecting flight? Even a relatively short delay on a multi-leg plane journey can have huge knock-on effect on the rest of your travel plans. So, can you claim delayed flight compensation if you miss a connecting flight? The simple answer is yes as long as you arrived at your final destination three hours or more late!

Let’s take the example of a passenger flying from London to Hong Kong via Amsterdam: The London to Amsterdam flight is delayed by 45 minutes meaning the passenger misses their connecting plane and they have to wait for a replacement plane to make the final leg of their trip from Amsterdam to Hong Kong. As a result of the wait in Amsterdam, they arrive in Hong Kong some four hours after they were due to land.

You might think that you cannot claim because the original delay was only 45 minutes (under the three hour minimum claim time limit), however this isn’t correct. You would be able to claim in this instance because you arrived at your final destination (Hong Kong) more than three hours late.

Please be aware however that some airlines argue that a passenger is not entitled to compensation where they miss a connecting flight which is outside of Europe.


*Based on 10,211 court proceedings issued between May 2013 and February 2016.