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One of the most annoying things that can happen when traveling is a long delay or even a cancelled flight. I’ve been there with delayed flights, luckily – my flights have never been cancelled (yet). There’s not much we can do at the moment of the delay except waiting and pass the time. But, if you have had a long delay or cancelled flight, there are definitely steps you can take. I’ll tell you how and when you may get part of your money back when you have a delayed or cancelled flight.
It’s important to know your rights as a traveller. I will try to explain to you what to do when your have a delayed or cancelled flight. There are a lot of “what ifs” and exceptions. So here we go!
What To Do If You Have A Delayed Or Cancelled Flight!
One thing that’s most important: your flight has to be delayed for at least three hours before you have the right to be compensated. However, this HAS to be the fault of the airline. I think I’m not the only one who had a delay of 2.5 hours and wasn’t able to apply for a compensation, sadly. If the delay is something outside of the airlines control – you are very, very unlikely to be compensation.
For example, if the fuel system is broken which means the airplanes cannot get the fuel to fly. Keep this in mind before thinking about asking for a compensation: the flight has to be delayed for at least 3 hours and it has to be the airlines fault. However, there’s a little exception which you’ll read below.
There are a few things the airline has to do in case of a delay (that is if it’s their fault):
- They have to give you a food and drink voucher to compensate for the additional costs you make on the airport.
- If your delay is overnight – the airline has to give you an accommodation during the night and compensate the costs you make to get to the hotel.
If you are flying from a non-EU destination which connect to an EU flight, you need to have both flights booked as a single booking before you have the right to ask for a compensation. Same thing as an EU flight – the delay has to be 3 hours or longer and it has to be the airlines fault. External factors that caused the delay aren’t the fault of the airline which means you won’t get a compensation. Keep this in mind.
There’s a difference between compensation in EU countries and countries outside of the EU. The law is different but you usually have more rights in the EU. However, I do advise you to look into the rights of the country you’re in. They are different in each country. Read them thoroughly and make sure you don’t miss any important information.
Furthermore, there are two factors who decide if you have to right to be financial compensated. This has to do with the distance in km and if you’re flying within or outside of the EU. I want to keep this short and simple for you guys.
- If your flight distance is less than 1.500 km – your flight has to be delayed 2 hours.
- If your flight distance is over 1.500 and within the EU – your flight has to be delayed 3 hours.
- If your flight distance is between 1.500 km and 3.500 km and between the EU and non-EU countries – your flight has to be delayed 3 hours.
- If your flight distance is between 3.500 km and between EU and non-EU countries – your flight has to be delayed 4 hours.
You can use the website Webflyer to check the distance of your flight.
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Now onto the financial compensation for your delayed or cancelled flight. Mostly when your flight is delayed – the cancelled flight have other rights. I tried to keep it short and simple as well but there are a lot of factors that contribute to this.
- €250 compensation if your flight is delayed for 3 hours or more AND less than 1.500 km
- €400 compensation if your flight is delayed for 3 hours or more AND between 1.500 km and 3.500 km within the EU or more than 1.500 km and within the EU.
- €300 compensation if your flight is delayed between 3-4 hours AND more than 3.500 km between EU and non-EU airport.
- €600 compensation if your flight is delayed 4 hours or more AND between an EU and non-EU airport.
These hours and financial compensation is the same with a delayed replacement flight after your original flight has been cancelled.
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Delayed Flight – 5 Hours Or More
You have the right to decide to not take the flight after it’s been delayed for 5 hours or more. There are no restrictions – you can do this no matter whose fault the delay is and the distance of the flight doesn’t matter either.
If you decide to not take the flight – the airline has to provide you with a full refund for the flight, refunds of additional flights that you’re not going to take and the flight back to the original airport if you had a lay-over. You have to talk this through with the airline as soon as you decide to not take the flight! Not showing up for the flight is not going to help your claim at all and will harm it in the end.
If you decide to do take the flight – the previous discussed distances with the financial compensation apply. Once again, the delay has to be the fault of the airline.
Re-think this last option since this means you’ll very likely not receive any compensation if the delay wasn’t the airlines fault. However, the first option means that you’ll most likely not arrive at the destination as quick as you would with the original flight. There are a lot of pros and cons to both options. It’s different in each situation.
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You have the right to receive a full refund including all flights that have been cancelled or the ones you can’t take in the same booking. This last bit complies to the ones who already have had a flight and are now stuck on their layover! Another option is that the airline provides you with a new replacement flight.
If you decide to not take the replacement flight, you have the right to get a refund for the flight back to your original airport if you have had a lay-over. Just like I said before about not taking the 5+ hour delayed flight. Some things apply here as well. See, it’s not that bad. A lot of situations have the same outcome but it’s worded differently which makes it very confusing, even for me. The one writing this blog post, a Tourism student and someone who did customer service in a travel agency for a little while. Still confusing.
You can ask these refunds at the airport or do it later through the website of the airline. You ALWAYS have to get the refund through the airline itself. However, if the airline does not want to cooperate – you always have the right to talk to a third party who’ll help you. This, surpise surpise, is different in each country.
File The Claim
When you want to file the claim for your delayed or cancelled flight – you always have to contact the airline itself, like I mentioned earlier in this blog post. Sometimes the flight is originally booked through another airline but you have to file the claim and contact the airline who was operating the flight. Always double check this.
You need to give your flight details and booking reference numbers to the airlines customer services, either through the phone or e-mail. If you’re doing it through e-mail, you have to write down your claim and explain what went wrong and what you want to them to give you. If you have receipts of food and beverages or other stuff you had to buy during the delay – add these to your claim. Add everything that has to do with it! The more you add and the more evidence you have – the bigger the chance is of getting compensated.
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Lastly and very important, you have to keep records of all the responses from the airline and the original claim. And if you speak to someone on the phone, always ask their name and write it down. This may help you in further communications! This last bit applies to basically everything, not only travel related stuff. It’s always good to write down the name of the person you spoke to!
This may be a lot to take in and to handle. Don’t worry – there are lots of websites who can help you and will support you through the process regarding a delayed or cancelled flight! One of those websites is AirHelp. They have helped more than 10 million passengers since 2013. You need to submit your flight details and they will help you go through the process and handle the claim process. The fee is 35% or 50% if legal procedures are needed.
It’s up to you how you want to handle it. If you feel comfortable enough to do it on your own – go for it! Just know that there are websites who can help you and handle the claim if you don’t feel comfortable doing it by yourself. You’re definitely not alone in this. It is important to look into all of this when you have a delayed or cancelled flight. It’s such a shame to just let it go when you have the right to be (financially) compensated.
Read more: What To Do On A Long Layover
Now all the official talk about a delayed or cancelled flight is done, I have a few tips for you. Some are fun tips at the airport and some are practical tips to keep in mind.
- Be aware that the airline can put you on a different flight route. Check to see if it complies with your possible layovers.
- Call different parties like the rental company where you rented your car and your hotel to let them know you’re delayed and will arrive later. These are just examples.
- Only start complaining when you hit the three hour point. I know delays suck, but they won’t be able to help you anyways.
- Don’t fall asleep when you have a delay even though it may be very tempting. You never know if I delay gets suddenly shorter and the plane starts boarding sooner than expected.
- See if you credit card has travel protection benefits and if it covers flight delays. You may get a compensation woohoo.
- Walk around the airport – go shopping – look at some attractions and get some nice food. It depends on the airport but if you’re stuck in Singapore – there is plenty of stuff to see and do!
I hope this information gave you a more clear view of your rights as a traveller. Always double check the rights you have while travelling. Ask questions in the comments if something isn’t clear and I’ll try to answer them or try to find a website that answers it.