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Transport Delays or Cancellations and Your Rights

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 19 May 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Delays Flight Delay Transport Airport

It's every traveller's worst nightmare - you get to the airport and your flight is either subject to horrendous delays or cancelled altogether. You're left sitting in a crowded departure lounge with a crying toddler and a face like thunder.

But you do have some comeback. The European Union passed a new regulation in 2005 which entitles unhappy travellers to payouts for cancellations and flight delays. The regulation, in case you need to quote it, is: EU Regulation 261/2004

What Are My Rights if My Flight is Delayed?

Firstly, keep an eye on the airport information boards. One problem that often comes up is that you wait hours for your flight and they change the departure terminal at the last minute, causing a stampede towards whichever terminal you've been sent to...While you're hanging around, the airline will be expected to look after you - well after a fashion. You're entitled to free meals and drinks if your flight is delayed for:

  • over two hours on flights up to 1500km
  • over three hours for journeys between 1500 and 3500 km
  • at least four hour delays for flights over 3500km

You can also claim two phone calls, emails, telexes or faxes while you wait!

If the flight is delayed for longer than five hours, you can ask for your money back on the ticket and go home - or if you stick it out and the delays carry on overnight, they should pay for your hotel room for the night.

What Am I Entitled to if The Flight is Cancelled?

You could be entitled to up to €600 if your flight is overbooked or simply cancelled. This will depend on how much time there was between the cancellation and the time of the flight, the distance, and if you've experienced delays getting to your final destination. This rule only applies to flights departing from an EU destination, or where the final destination is an EU airport.

How Much Compensation Can I Claim?

  • Flight length up to 1500km, delay up to two hours - €125
  • Flight length up to 1500km, delay more than two hours - €250
  • Flight length 1500km to 3500km, delay up to three hours - €200
  • Flight length 1500km to 3500km, delay more than three hours - €400
  • Flight length more than 3500km, delay up to four hours - €300
  • Flight length more than 3500km, delay more than four hours - €600

If you decide not to travel you are entitled to a refund of the parts of the ticket you didn't use. You should get this within seven days. If a connecting flight has been cancelled, but you decide you don't want to carry on with the journey, you could claim reimbursement of the total price of your ticket - and that includes the onward and return parts of the journey that are no good to you anymore. You should also get a free flight back to where you departed.

What Should I Do?

The first thing you must do if you've suffered from a delay or cancellation is get in touch with the airline straight away, and tell them that you intend to claim compensation. If they are no help, contact the Air Transport Users Council.

Consumer Advice Line: 020 7240 6061 (Consumer advice line Mon to Thurs 9.30am to 2.30pm)

Airlines do have some get out clauses here - they can wriggle out of paying you any compensation if cancellations are due to 'extraordinary circumstances' - which means that extreme weather conditions, security risks and strikes aren't covered - but if your delay is due to technical problems with the aircraft you're still OK.

There are penalties for operators who don't follow the rules, and they can be fined up to £5000 per passenger if they omit to pay out the required compensation. So it's in their interest to make sure that they do. Hopefully your trip will go according to plan - but knowing what you're entitled to if it doesn't is always a bonus...

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Me and my friend booked to go to Bulgaria with my daughter and her son. The holiday was in my name I was the lead passenger over the following months we both began to pay the balance of the holiday. Then suddenly my friend decided she didn't want to go anymore resulting in her having to pay a cancellation fee and my holiday going up in price. She is demanding the money that is overpaid after the cancellation fee however isn't taking any responsibility for the money that I have had to pay due to the holiday going up. She is now taking me to a small claims court for the money she had paid after the cancellation fee. Where do I stand with this?? I'm willing to give her some of the money back with the deduction of the money it cost me as a result of her cancelling.
Bulgaria-cancellatio - 19-May-17 @ 10:32 PM
Cancelled holiday of myself and my husband 4 days before departure - due to serious illness of my husband which must have been coming for some time. There is an excess of £300 on our insurance policy for a different condition my husband has. It seems we have to accept the £300 excess - even though not the problem for cancellation AND also £300 excess will apply to me, because my husband's illness is the reason I am not travelling. Do I have to accept this? Regards
LPH - 27-Apr-17 @ 11:06 PM
Hi, Booked and paid for a holiday for me and wife to go to Turkey on May 21st, however due to her not being British she will need a visa which is complicated to get.According to the website, the next available appointment is until end of June(which is too late). Is there anything we can do please? P.s we are not eligible for a refund from our travel company as the date is too soon. Many thanks, TG
TG - 10-May-16 @ 7:21 PM
Booked and fully paid of a holiday with a group of other women, Unfortunately having some major problems at home and can no longer make the holiday! Is there any possible chance of getting refund on my holiday? Due to fly 13th June 16
Nettie - 28-Apr-16 @ 8:53 PM
sas - Your Question:
In June '15 I found a lovely villa to rent through Owners Direct for my family and booked it for the end of May '16. Eight weeks later in Sept 15 it was apparent we were going to have to cancel as my daughter was poorly and we knew we wouldn't be able to commit to the holiday. I let the owners know immediately and asked in view of the circumstances and the fact the holiday was still 8 months away, plenty of time to re-let their villa, would they consider giving us back our £875 deposit? We were also aware that in the 10 weeks or so it was booked with us, they hadn't turned away any possible future bookings for that same week. The owners said, they didn't normally refund deposits but they would be willing to refund it once they had managed to re-let their villa for the week in question. I was a little disappointed with their response but agreed. In January '16, I noticed through the Owners Direct website that the villa was now showing as unavailable for the week we had originally booked. I emailed the owners asking for the refund that they had previously agreed. Their reply was that the villa wasn't re-let but they themselves had booked it for their own family and should anyone still enquire in the meantime for that week they would make it available. I am absolutely livid.nobody is going to enquire if it's showing as unavailable on their website. I would understand if we'd cancelled the villa a few weeks before we were due to go but it was 8 months before. I feel the owners have been totally unsympathetic to our circumstances and they are now holidaying in their own villa on our money. I have contacted owners Direct to see if they can help but unfortunately they cannot get involved. please can you advise me where I stand on this matter. Thank you

Our Response:
Unfortunately this will depend on the terms and conditions of the booking. Your do not have an automatic right to a refund under any consumer legislation in this instance. Did your insurance include cancellation?
YourTravelRights - 27-Jan-16 @ 1:01 PM
In June '15 I found a lovely villa to rent through Owners Direct for my family and booked it for the end of May '16. Eight weeks later in Sept 15 it was apparent we were going to have to cancel as my daughter was poorly and we knew we wouldn't be able to commit to the holiday. I let the owners know immediately and asked in view of the circumstances and the fact the holiday was still 8 months away, plenty of time to re-let their villa, would they consider giving us back our £875 deposit? We were also aware that in the 10 weeks or so it was booked with us, they hadn't turned away any possible future bookings for that same week. The owners said, they didn't normally refund deposits but they would be willing to refund it once they had managed to re-let their villa for the week in question. I was a little disappointed with their response but agreed. In January '16, I noticed through the Owners Direct website that the villa was now showing as unavailable for the week we had originally booked. I emailed the owners asking for the refund that they had previously agreed. Their reply was that the villa wasn't re-let but they themselves had booked it for their own family and should anyone still enquire in the meantime for that week they would make it available. I am absolutely livid.....nobody is going to enquire if it's showing as unavailable on their website. I would understand if we'd cancelled the villa a few weeks before we were due to go but it was 8 months before. I feel the owners have been totally unsympathetic to our circumstances and they are now holidaying in their own villa on our money. I have contacted owners Direct to see if they can help but unfortunately they cannot get involved. please can you advise me where I stand on this matter. Thank you
sas - 26-Jan-16 @ 10:11 PM
I bought a package holiday to Hurghada Egypt earlier this week and should be going next week.However since hearing of the attacks on tourists in Cairo earlier this week and on tourists in Hurghada yesterday I am now too frightened to go. I contacted Thomson and asked if I could transfer the holiday to another destination but they refused due to timescales.Thomson stated they would guarantee my safety (not sure how they can guarantee that to be honest) and they continued to refuse to transfer my holiday as I requested. I am too frightened to go to Egypt now especially as tourists are being advised to stay in the resorts and remain vigilant at all times - this is not what I would call a holiday. Help, is there anything I can do?
Ffliss* - 9-Jan-16 @ 12:47 PM
nicky - Your Question:
I booked and paid for a NewYork four night holiday for me and my daughter for her 21st birthday. 4 days before flying I was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery for a completely unpredicted problem. I was told I could not fly by surgeons. I cancelled 2 days before flight when well enough to talk to BA, they would not discuss with anyone but me. They have refunded me 40% of the holiday. I want to claim the rest from my insurance and am putting in a claim for the remaining 60% plus prepaid excursions and coach journey to Heathrow. Trouble is I only took out insurance for me as my daughter was going to do her own (which she hadn't yet done). As the financier of the holiday will I be able to claim for all the remaining lost money I paid? She could not travel without me! Or just for my part? My daughter was being treated and not paying anything.

Our Response:
Insurance would usually only cover those named in the policy. Check with your insurance provider for more information.
YourTravelRights - 4-Sep-15 @ 11:08 AM
i booked and paid for a NewYork four night holiday for me and my daughter for her 21st birthday.4 days before flying I was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery for a completely unpredicted problem. I was told I could not fly by surgeons.I cancelled 2 days before flight when well enough to talk to BA, they would not discuss with anyone but me.They have refunded me 40% of the holiday.I want to claim the rest from my insurance and am putting in a claim for the remaining 60% plus prepaid excursions and coach journey to Heathrow.Trouble is I only took out insurance for me as my daughter was going to do her own (which she hadn't yet done).As the financier of the holiday will I be able to claim for all the remaining lost money I paid?She could not travel without me!Or just for my part?My daughter was being treated and not paying anything.
nicky - 3-Sep-15 @ 6:38 PM
Shar - Your Question:
I am due to go on holiday next week but am suffering from depressionWill my insurance cover me if I cancel

Our Response:
You would have to look at the terms of the insurance policy to establish that unfortunately.
YourTravelRights - 1-Sep-15 @ 10:02 AM
I am due to go on holiday next week but am suffering from depression Will my insurance cover me ifI cancel
Shar - 31-Aug-15 @ 10:31 AM
My parents booked flights to the USAfor 17th of sept 2015 . But my mom had been advised by her doctor not to fly . So she wants me to cancel the flights . Dad will not fly without her . We booked her and dad through aer lingus . My question is can they get their money back ????
Abo - 12-Aug-15 @ 10:23 AM
@Caz. Can you not claim this from your holiday insurance?
YourTravelRights - 17-Jul-15 @ 12:57 PM
i booked a holiday with Thomas Cook in March for end of decenber but my husband passed away in June they will not refund his £200 deposit he paid with his Halifax credit card we still want the holiday as there are 4 of us how can I get it back?
caz - 17-Jul-15 @ 9:08 AM
@sandy. It depends on the terms and conditions of the booking. The Consumer Contract Regulations don't cover travel in the same way they do with other online transactions.
YourTravelRights - 1-Jul-15 @ 10:34 AM
I recently booked a holiday for myself my partner and 2 friends of ours within an hour of booking and paying deposit our friends told me 2 cancel there holiday they couldn't go so I rang and canceld straight away is it right they have lost there deposit of £500I canceld within the hour also they have added £50 to our balance for cancelation fee the holiday is booked with icelolly many thanks if you could advise
sandy - 27-Jun-15 @ 7:44 PM
@Fat friends. This is standard procedure for insurance companies unfortunately, which is why it's always best to take out insurance at the time of booking.
YourTravelRights - 10-Jun-15 @ 9:53 AM
I booked a holiday with Thomas cook in October 2014 to Limone Italy. Being busy at work I didn't book travel insurance until the end of January when my dad was in hospital with breathing problems which turned out to be advanced lung cancer. My dads health deteriorated rapidly the weekend before we were due to go so I cancelled the holiday. Thomas cook said we were not entitled to any refund because of the late cancellation so we turned to the insurance company. They have sent us a letter asking why we booked the holiday in October but didn't buy insurance until January and even though we have had dads GP to fill in a form relating to dads illness they still want us to get written confirmation from the relevant medical attendant dad first went to with his symptoms. I have no idea who I go to now. Reading between the lines I think the insurance company are trying to wriggle out of paying.
fat friends - 6-Jun-15 @ 8:40 AM
@Katpo. You can contact the customer services department of the airline to request a refund of the APD. Bear in mind the refund amount may be less than the adminstration fee, so you should check that out before claiming. You cannot claim a refund on your insurance excess.
YourTravelRights - 5-Jun-15 @ 12:56 PM
I had to cancel my holiday the day before travel as my husband was ill. The insurance company has paid us the full cost of the holiday less the excess and also air passenger duty.Am I entitled to re-claim this from the airline?
Katpo - 3-Jun-15 @ 2:40 PM
@elleng. The easiest way to find out is to check your insurance policy terms and conditions, or give the insurance company a call.
YourTravelRights - 12-May-15 @ 12:52 PM
I'm due to go on holiday in a few days with my future sister in law now her mum has been rushed into hospital & has amenisia so I can not go alone will my travel insurance cover it as it's not my relative
elleng - 6-May-15 @ 11:59 PM
@THOMO. Check the terms and conditions of your booking. You're usually only entitled to a refund of a small percentage of the holiday cost if you cancel at this late stage. If your holiday insurance included cancellation, this will cover it however.
YourTravelRights - 30-Apr-15 @ 2:06 PM
I wonder if you can help booked a holiday last year for May 2015 with friends used her debit card for payment Unfortunatly I have just had a stroke hospital will issue a letter and have told me not to go . Holiday is with Thomas Cook to Bulgeria am I entitled to money back hospital seem to think so but Thomas Cook have told my friend no
THOMO - 25-Apr-15 @ 8:17 PM
@loulou. Did she have any travel insurance? Does it cover cancellation etc? What are the terms and conditions on the booking document? You need to look into all of these things.
YourTravelRights - 2-Apr-15 @ 11:36 AM
i would like to ask for some advise my daughter booked aholiday with some friends now she cant go because she lost her job,we went to the barhead travel totry and sort it out but the girl said she could not give me any information because my daughter was not the lead passanger ,so the girl called the lead passge to see if was ok to give my daughter some information,she told her she had been canciled from the holiday by the lead passanger which she was no told about.and that she had no money to pay as the lead and payed £300 TO CANCEL HER OFF but my daughter had only £300 to clear the holiday any way now she has no holiday and lost all the money she pay out what are her rights if any
loulou - 30-Mar-15 @ 6:24 PM
@Settee20. Write to the company in question first to establish whether the holiday was in fact cancelled and whether she only cancelled her own booking and not yours. If the deposit was returnable and she has yours you should send her a letter or email requesting that your £60 is returned.
YourTravelRights - 24-Feb-15 @ 2:50 PM
A friend cancelled a holiday with highland heritage£120 depositstating she did not want to gosaid she had written them a letter.Never heard from her since. I cannot afford to lose £60.can I do anything ?She was lead name
Settee20 - 22-Feb-15 @ 7:57 PM
@nicky. It depends on what is stated in the contract. Did your daughter select cancellation etc?
YourTravelRights - 15-Dec-14 @ 1:54 PM
my grandson has been taken ill and is in hospital my son his wife and three children were booked in on a cruise which leaves on friday if he is still in hospital and unable to travel will the insurance company refund the money for all the family
nicky - 15-Dec-14 @ 3:31 AM
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