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Passengers can seek delay compensation from airlines such as Ryanair, British Airways, Easy Jet and other airlines. They are entitled to compensation based on the number of hours delayed for which a passenger has to fill up EU Regulations 261/2004 form. Airlines are liable for the delay and inconvenience caused to the passenger.

When things do go wrong for the air passenger, it is not clear that people are aware of who they can complain to and what, if any, assistance they may be entitled to. The first challenge for the passenger is to find out what was actually the cause of the delay. Airlines seldom give information on this to their passengers in the individual case.

To the extent where concrete information is given, it is extremely difficult for passengers to prove whether it is correct or not. An example is when an airline advises that the delay is because it is waiting to be allocated a “time slot”. In reality, the situation may be that the flight had been allocated a time slot that would have seen it depart on schedule, but it was not possible to keep to it, because of baggage problems for example, and it was subsequently necessary to wait for a new time slot. Passengers will seldom learn or be able to learn of this eventuality. Apart from this, a passenger also has to worry about the taxes and refunds on flight tickets in case the flight has been cancelled.

Flight Delay Compensation

“Late arrival of the incoming aircraft” is often given as the cause of delays. This expression does not say what the real cause of the delay is, however, and it is not well suited for clarification whether the airline is liable or not. In such cases the airline cannot be considered to have fulfilled its burden of proof with regard to exemption from liability. It also becomes very difficult for the person to claim travel and subsistence expenses from employer, in case traveling for business meetings. In case, you are going on a foreign trip, there are certain business travel expenses and allowances that one can claim as well.

If the real reason for the delay is known, the question is then whether it is an eventuality for which the airline is liable. The condition then is whether the airline is to blame, and not whether the cause of the delay lies within the airline’s “sphere of control”. An example of this is “technical failure”. Here, the airline will be exempt from liability if it “took all measure that could reasonably be required to avoid delay as a result of the technical problem”.

Airline Liability for flight’s delay

The airline will be liable for delays that are due to conditions at the airport, provided that there is a reasonable connection between the conditions at the airport and the performance of the actual contract. For example, if a flight is assigned a new gate number after a number of passengers have checked in and been informed of the original gate number, this can lead to a situation where not all the passengers arrive at the new gate number in time and a delay arises for that reason.

Compensation in case of cancellation is tightly associated with compliance, by the airlines, with its duty to inform its passengers. A good part about the flight tickets is that it is exempted from VAT otherwise cost and subsequently cancellation charges would have been much higher (for other exempt expenses, check our list of exempt expenses). In general compensation for cancellation is the same as in the case of denied boarding, unless,

  • Passengers are informed of cancellation at least two weeks before departure date
  • Passengers are informed at least one week before departure date and are offered re-routing allowing them to leave not more than two hours before and arrive not more than four hours later than schedule
  • Passengers are informed less than a week before and are offered re-routing allowing them to leave not more than one hour before and arrive not more than two hours later than schedule.

Note: The operating air carries needs to supply sufficient proof that the passenger has been informed of the cancellation well in advance.

Compensation for Delays

In most cases, delays and cancellation are due to bad organisation, under-staffing and inability to solve unforeseen problems. And in other times it is simply the result of ‘slot-hoarding’: an airline that has a valuable slot and does not want the surrender to its competitors, offers tickets on the flights and subsequently cancels it, shifting the passengers on to a previous or following flight.

Certain regulations set out the relevant definitions:

  • “Cancellation” means the non-operation of a flight which was previously planned and on which at least one place was reserve
  • “Delay: is departure beyond schedule time
    • Of two hours for flights up to 1500 km
    • Of three hours for flights over 1500 km and up to 3500 km
    • Of four hours for extra-EU flights over 3500 km

The remedies set out by the Regulation in the case of cancellation are:

  • Reimbursement of full cost of ticket and /or return flight to the first point of departure
  • Re-routing to final destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at the passengers’ convenience
  • Provide care at conditions similar to those of denied boarding

Do airlines have to compensate you for delays?

Yes airlines do have to compensate for delays which however depends upon conditions and the time of delay. If the delay is due to the flights members incapability, then yes airlines do have to pay the compensation.

How much can I claim for a delayed flight?

How much can I claim for delayed flights?

If your flight arrives at its destination more than three hours late, affected passenger is entitled to claim compensation. The claim compensation can be calculated depending on the distance of your flight and the length of the delay. You can claim delayed flight compensation from easyJet, British Airways, Thomas Cook and all the flights falling under the regulations of EU.

Flight distance How late arriving Entitlement
Up to 1,500km or 932 miles More than 3 hours €250
Flights within the EU over 1,500km or 32 miles or any other flight between 1,500km-3,500 km or 2,175 miles More than 3 hours €400
More than 3,500km or 2,175 miles Between 3-4 hours €300
More than 3,500km or 2,175 miles More than 4 hours €600

How long do you have to be delayed for getting compensation?

If you are delayed for more than 3 hours for up to a distance of 1500 km, then you are eligible for compensation. Similarly, for greater distances and further late arrival the entitlement amount increases.

Which airlines do compensate for flight delays?

You can claim delayed flight compensation from easyJet, British Airways, Thomas Cook and all the flights falling under the regulations of EU.

How to get flight delay compensation from Ryanair, EasyJet, British Airways, Thomas Cook and other flights?

For receiving compensation on any flight delay from airlines such as Ryanair, Easy Jet, British Airways, Thomas Cook and other flights from EU, one has to simply fill up a EU261 Compensation and Expense Claim Form. Before filling up, one must retain some information like – delayed/cancelled flight number, date of disrupted flight, departure airport and arrival airport.

Liability for Compensation

Once the liability for the delays has been fulfilled, the passenger can file for compensation by documenting economic loss incurred as a result of the delay. The most common economic loss is constituted by expenses for food and drink while the passenger is forced to wait, as well as telephone calls that have to be made to inform others that the passenger will be delayed. These are normally small amounts. Overnight accommodation expenses may also be relevant here if the delay lasts a long time or occurs in the evening. If the delay caused a passenger to miss an onward flight from their first destination, they may also need to purchase a new ticket. This is an especially relevant question for passengers who have purchased discounted tickets that cannot be changed. In these cases the economic loss can be significant for the individual consumer.

It must also be underlined that any airline that is liable according to the rule on liability for delay must also compensate the necessary expenses for a new ticket if the passenger has arrived too late to get his planned onward flight as a result of the delay. Many airlines refuse claims for compensation linked to missed onward transportation on the grounds that the airline’s liability ceases when the flight is completed.

Note: Passengers who suffer economic losses of a more indirect nature can be met with a disclaimer of liability by the airline.

The flight carrier should immediately offer you vouchers to purchase necessary items at the terminal. You can always approach an employee of the airline for more help. If you have made purchases on your own, ensure that you keep receipts that you can claim from the airline later.

If your flight’s delayed for more than five hours you're entitled to choose between being rerouted on a different flight or get a refund, just as if your flight had been cancelled. And each affected passenger is still entitled to claim flight delay compensation if the delay is not due to ‘extraordinary circumstances'.

Compensation for 5 hrs + Delays

If the flight is delayed for more than 5 hours, the passenger has the option of not taking the flight regardless of whose responsibility caused the delay.

When the passenger decides not to take the flight, the carrier legally has to compensate on the following grounds:

  • Food and drink
  • At least two phone calls and emails
  • Hotel accommodation if you’re delay caused an overnight stay and transport between the airport and place of accommodation
  • Full refund for the flight
  • A full refund for all associated flights that resulted in unused tickets that include an onward or return journey
  • A flight back to the airport you initially departed from, if you’re already half-way through the journey

Note: If you decide to cancel your flight make sure you speak to an employee of the airline as soon as possible

If you do take the flight you can claim up to €600 in compensation. It’s important to note that in situation like a technical flight or they overbooked it may still be your airline's fault.

Note: If the delayed was caused due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ like bad weather or a strike, you won’t get compensation

Important NOTE: Challenging extraordinary circumstances

If you think that the extraordinary challenges are not agreeable, you can challenge the airline. For instance, if that bad weather is the cause for the delay, but you notice that there are other airlines that are operating on time. Airlines have a tendency to over-exaggerate the definition of extraordinary circumstances to suit their convenience.

Compensation on Connecting Flights / EU Regulation 261/2004 – Claim delay or cancellation compensation

EU Regulation 261/2004

Passengers flying with a non-EU airline are entitled to compensation if a flight departing from the UK is delayed by at least three hours at the final destination, as a result of a missed connection outside Europe. All the rules concerning EU Regulation might change after Britain exits from EU. Apart from aviation industry there will be some impact of Brexit on the Finance industry in the EU which might change compensation prices.

Under the regulation for right to compensation passengers shall receive compensation amount to:

  • €250 for all flights of 1,500 kilometres or less
  • €400 for all intra-community flights of more than 1,500 kilometres and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres
  • €300 for all flights not falling under the two mentioned points.

Example

A passenger is flying from London to New Delhi with a stopover at Amsterdam. The Amsterdam to New Delhi portion of the flight is delayed by more than 5 hours – or cancelled. The passenger is entitled to claim compensation under EU connecting flights compensation.

Eligibility for flight compensation

In order to file for compensation with the airline, you must first meet certain criteria. Under the Denied Boarding Regulation, you can only file compensation if you booked a flight that either departed from Europe or was with a European airline.

If you're more than three hours late arriving at your destination you could also be entitled to claim flight delay compensation.

The passenger may claim for compensation if:

  • The passenger has a confirmed booking
  • The passenger checked in on time, or if no check-in time was given, then at least 45 minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart
  • The passenger is departing from an EU airport, or from a non-EU airport and flying into an EU airport on a 'community carrier'

How do I claim compensation for a Cancelled flight?

The first plan of action should be to contact the airline. It’s important to note that you must contact the airline operating the flight, even if you booked through a different airline. The airline’s customer services department will usually help. Be prepared with all the flight details along with the booking reference number.

Write your claim. Mention what went wrong and what the airline should give you. The Civil Aviation Authority has information regarding how a good claim should be written. Make sure you attach copies of your tickets and any receipts. Keep all the documentation – make copies of your claim and any response from the airline. If you speak to an employee of the airline, take notes while you speak. This simple step will help you when you decide to take your claim further.

How long does it take to get compensation from airline?

Getting compensation from airline depends on the nature of delay and the compensation amount. It will generally be around 4 weeks. However, it might take some time in case the airline refuses to pay where it generally takes 2 to 4 months. The initial warning is given by your representative which is for around 3 weeks, after which you and your representative can issue a legal warning.

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