Flight Delay Compensation – Claim up to €600 (£530) Per Passenger‎

Did you know that you are entitled to flight compensation if your flight is cancelled or gets delayed by at least 3 hours? The EU Regulation 261/2004 says you could be entitled to up to €600 (£532) in plane delay compensation in the event that your flight gets to your destination over 3 hours late. However, as would be expected, airlines don’t want to pay and in some circumstances, they don’t have to pay; as is the case if delay results from extraordinary circumstances e.g. crew strikes and bad weather.

In the past, airlines have declined late flight claims for delays resulting from technical faults, citing that they too are extraordinary events. However, in 2014 two landmark courts ruled and declared that airlines should pay out for delays resulting from a technical error.

It may be a little unclear when you are entitled to make a late flight claim and exactly how much you can get in flight delay compensation. I will clarify this for you below as well as enlighten you on how to claim and measures to take when your late flight claim is rejected. I will also throw in a template letter that you can use when making your claim.

 Length of flight  Delay to destination  Potential compensation due
 Up to 1,500km  More than 3 hours  €250
 1,500km to 3500km  More than 3 hours  €400
 More than 3,500km  More than 3 hours but less than 4 hours  €300
 More than 3,500km  More than 4 hours  €600

Late Flight Compensation – How it works.

EU rules dictate that you get compensation if your flight is either cancelled or delayed well over three hours. Two factors determine how much you are entitled to; the flight you booked and how long you got delayed by.

It’s key to note that for you to get plane delay compensation, your flight must have departed from an EU airport regardless of its airline or must be arriving at an EU airport and is operated by an EU airline.

You could get anywhere from €250 (£221) for flights of under 1500km long delayed by at least 3 hours and €600 (£532) for flights of above 3500km long delayed by 4 hours at least.

Know Your Rights

You have a right to compensation if your flight is cancelled or delayed heavily.

In the case of extraordinary events causing the delay or cancellation, it is the obligation of the airline to look after you even though the fault isn’t on their end.

You are also entitled to meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation at the airline’s expense as you await your alternative flight.

There’s no set limit either on the amount or on the time the airline spends to take care of you. I would however advise that you spend as little as possible in the event that the airline refuses to assist you and you are forced to manage on your own.

Also, always keep receipts and records for all out of pocket expenses you incur while stranded to help you reclaim from the airline in accordance with the EU flight delay compensation rule.

Plane Delay Compensation – How to go about it

Making late flight claims is quite seamless. You simply need to write to the airline, inform them your names, flight number and the reason for the delay.

Also state how long you got delayed by (Check online to see how long the delay lasted if you aren’t quite sure).

If, as is in many cases, your claim gets rejected, although valid in your view, move it up to the arbiter or the appropriate personnel depending on the airline. And if this still doesn’t yield results, you can go ahead and pursue the matter in a small claims court.

Denial of claim by airline

Not all claims are accepted by airlines, especially in case of extraordinary circumstances. This is because it the regulation doesn’t specify exactly what extraordinary events are.

Under the Montreal Convention, obligations on operating air carriers should be limited or excluded in cases where an event has been caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

‘Such circumstances may, in particular, occur in cases of political instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with the operation of the flight concerned, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and strikes that affect the operation of an operating air carrier.’

The underlined part is important and can be your basis for challenging a denial by airline citing technical fault, seeing as this could have been averted had the airline taken every proper measure possible.

Note though that even in these cases the airline has a duty to care for you. This means you get refreshments, meals, accommodation and transport from airport to accommodation on the airline’s tab.

If your claim is denied due to extraordinary circumstances and you feel that this wasn’t the case, write them again and notify them that you intend to bring the matter to the attention of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

How far back you can claim

While Regulation (EC) 261 does not set a limit on how far back you can claim, it does give power to the various EU countries are to determine this according to their laws. If you are in the UK, the statute of limitation is 6 years from the time of submitting the claim.

It is important to note that it is not enough to just present your claim to the airline within the said 6 years; you have to issue court proceedings as well within this time frame or you risk having your claim denied for being out of your 6 years under the Limitation Act.

Do not hesitate to seek legal advice from bodies such as the Civil Aviation Authority or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and find out what action to take before you run out of time.

Remember to save your (reasonable) receipts and proof of expenses as you will need them to make a claim against the airline if they refuse you assistance.

If you have travel insurance, it is a good idea to take note of everything you are covered for. You should be able to claim for additional expenses incurred while stranded like cancelled trips and hotels as well as other already paid out expenses from your insurance company. Always keep your expenditure reasonable and retain the receipts and contact insurer in case you are in doubt before making a payment.

Also note that, you cannot claim for the same thing twice although travel insurance doesn’t override duty of care by airline.

Small Claims Court – what you can’t claim

While airlines will pay for late flight claims made without making a fuss sometimes, most times they will deny your claim. If this happens, you need to direct the matter to small claims courts to make the airline pay.

Your expenses have got to be reasonable, for the airline is going to even consider your claim. Don’t stay in a lavish hotel of higher standard than you normally would or eat the most expensive meal on the menu and expect the airline to pick up your tab. This will appear to be extravagant and your airline delay compensation will be denied.

If you decide to abandon your late flight and find another way to get to your destination, the airline will most likely deny your claim, unless the route you took was the best-value one available or they advised you to get yourself home. If this is so, ensure to state it on your claim. You will meet a lot of resistance from airlines refusing to pay for this since it isn’t protocol but if you press hard, you will get your flight compensation.

In the event that your airline claims extraordinary circumstances, they have no obligation to pay the compensation amounts. They are still tasked with caring for you while you are stranded and getting you to your destination according to Regulation (EC) 261/2004 Articles 5, 8 and 9.

Sample Letters

Below is a sample paragraph and letter for you to use while making your airline delay compensation claim. Simply copy paste the paragraph into your letter or add your details into the template letter.

Delays or cancellations classed as extraordinary circumstances

[Your name, address and contact number]

[Airline name and address]

[Date]

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing regarding flight [flight number] on [date] from [departure airport] to [arrival airport] with the scheduled departure time of [scheduled departure time].

My booking reference is [booking or reservation reference if available]. This flight arrived [number of hours] hours late at [airport] (or) This flight was cancelled and I arrived late on [time and date of arrival].

Unfortunately, your airline failed to meet its obligations under EU rules and did not provide me with the assistance it should have in the form of rerouting home / accommodation / meals / transport to the airport. [Delete as applicable.]
I am therefore asking you to please compensate me for £—-. I enclose receipts.

The EU rules that state that I should have been assisted by yourselves are in Regulation (EC) 261/2004. In this Article 5 states that in the case of cancellation or delay of more than one day I am entitled to be reimbursed or re-routed under Article 8 and also offered assistance, including accommodation, meals and transport under Article 9.

Article 9 states:

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered free of charge:

(a) meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time;

(b) hotel accommodation in cases
— where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary,
or — where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary; (c) transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel or other).

2. In addition, passengers shall be offered free of charge two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.

3. In applying this Article, the operating air carrier shall pay particular attention to the needs of persons with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them, as well as to the needs of unaccompanied children.

Under Article 5 part 3, airlines are able to avoid paying compensation in accordance with Article 7 in the case of ‘extraordinary circumstances’, but this extraordinary circumstances clause does not apply to the entitlement to assistance under Article 9.

A 2014 ruling ratified by the Supreme Court, in the case of Huzar vs Jet2, says that European airlines can no longer claim technical faults as extraordinary circumstances, so must pay out compensation for flight delays of longer than three hours such cases.

I thank you for your assistance with this and await your response.

Delays or cancellations not classed as extraordinary circumstances

[Your name, address and contact number]

[Airline name and address]

[Date]

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing regarding flight [flight number] on [date] from [departure airport] to [arrival airport] with the scheduled departure time of [scheduled departure time].

My booking reference is [booking or reservation reference if available]. This flight arrived [number of hours] hours late at [airport] (or) This flight was cancelled and I arrived late on [time and date of arrival].

The passengers in the party were [names of party].

The judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in Tui & others v CAA confirmed the applicability of compensation for delay as set out in the Sturgeon case. As such, I am seeking compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004 for this delayed flight.

My scheduled flight length was [number of kilometres – see here if you need to check flight length http://gc.kls2.com/], therefore I am seeking [if less than 1500km: €250, if more than 1500km but less than 3500km: €400, if more than 3500km: €600) per delayed passenger in my party. The total compensation sought is €].

I look forward to hearing from you and would welcome a response in 14 days,

Yours faithfully,

[passenger name]

If you were not reimbursed for refreshments or accommodation during the disruption, you should also include the passage below before ending your claim letter., right before the ‘I look forward to hearing from you’ line.

During the disruption the passengers in my party were not provided with any [refreshments/accommodation/refreshments and accommodation], so I have attached receipts for the cost of purchasing our own [refreshments/accommodation/refreshments and accommodation]. Please also refund £[xx], in addition to the compensation figure outlined above.

How to go about It

Copy and paste the template letter above replacing everything within the square brackets! NB: you must calculate the distance of your flight to figure out how much compensation may be due to you. Air Miles Calculator is a great tool that you can use to help you do this.

The time between the scheduled arrival time and when a flight actually arrives at its destination, is the length of a delay. The arrival time being the point at which at least one airplane door is opened upon arrival.

Remember to attach copies of all the relevant evidence you have to back up your complaint – this includes copies of your booking confirmation and ticket as well as any previous correspondence with the airline.

Attach receipts if you are claiming refreshment or accommodation expenses. Some airlines may require you to fill in their own specific form in order to claim compensation, so check their website first.

Do visit the Civil Aviation Authority website for more information and advice.

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