If you suffer from the consequences of a delayed flight you are likely to be eligible for compensation, however that does not mean the compensation will just automatically arrive into your bank account.
Airlines are loathe to pay the compensation and will use a number of tactics to either outright avoid having to pay or to limit what they provide by way of recompense.
How, then, should any passenger make a claim for the compensation that is rightfully theirs? In this post we look at when compensation would apply and then how to streamline the process of getting a payout.
When Flight Compensation Applies
The good news is that there are clear rules that outline when a passenger is entitled to compensation. As much as an airline might fight the case and try to wiggle out of their obligations, ultimately the weight of law is against them.
Any passenger flying out of or into the UK, European Union or Iceland, Norway or Switzerland will usually be entitled to compensation if a flight is substantially delayed for reasons within the airline’s control. There are, however, some caveats as we will come on to in the next section.
Wondering what qualifies as a significant delay? Typically, a flight will have to be delayed for a minimum of three hours for compensation to become applicable.
When Flight Compensation Does Not Apply
The caveat that applies most often is that the delay has to be deemed the airline’s fault or responsibility. Exceptional circumstances and factors outside their control are unlikely to lead to a successful compensation claim.
The devil is in the detail. What qualifies as exceptional circumstances?
Natural disasters or freak weather would fall into this category, a good example was the ash cloud sent up by a volcano that grounded flights around Europe. More commonly, extreme flooding can lead to delays and, as a factor undeniably outside the airline’s control, would not be eligible for compensation.
More controversially, strikes are also deemed exceptional circumstances and so cannot be claimed against – this unless the strike is by that airline’s staff.
If your flight is delayed because employees of your airline are on strike, you can claim compensation; if your flight is delayed because baggage handlers are on strike you can’t. The end result for the passenger might be the same – they are grounded – yet regulations treat the two scenarios as very different…
Another caveat would be that if the flight is returning to the UK having departed from outside the EU, compensation would only apply if the operator was a European airline.
If, for instance, you fly from New York to Heathrow on Singapore airlines, any delay would not be eligible to the EU defined compensation.
All this can be a bit confusing, especially if yours feels like an edge case (if your flight from London to Paris was delayed by six hours for no good reason the case is much clearer).
Fortunately, as we detail in the How to Claim section below, it is very easy to check whether any specific delayed flight would be subject too compensation.
Airline Tricks to Avoid Compensation
Airlines might be obliged to play compensation if forced to, but they will often take steps to avoid it getting that far.
One tactic they will often employ is to fight the claim. It’s a numbers game if, for instance, 100 people were to file claims from a flight the airline knows that fighting the claims, making it that bit more difficult to get the money ensures a healthy percentage will drop out.
It might be that of those 100, 50 drop out because it simply doesn’t seem worth the hassle; many people mistakenly think that it will be a battle they can’t win.
The airline will make it time consuming to fight the claim, there will be complex red tape and forms to fill out and deadlines to be hit.
It will get to a point for many whereby even if they sense they might win the time won’t seem to justify it – a few hundreds of pounds in compensation are nice, but maybe less appealing if it’s going to take endless evenings to sort the claim.
Another common tactic is to make low compensation offers, hoping for a quick resolution that works in their favour.
Let’s say your family has been bumped from a flight, leading to considerable delay and hardship. There might be a cast iron compensation case and one that would lead to a substantial payout.
The airline, however, might make an offer there and then – moving you on to new flights (which would happen irrespective of compensation) and either making a low cash offer or even free air miles.
Their aim is for you to take the offer, knowing that I’m doing so the case is closed and they have had to pay far less than would otherwise be the case.
Regarding compensation, there is no rush for you to reach a decision – yes, you need new flight arrangements, but that is separate to compensation.
Give proper thought to compensation only once removed from the initial stress of being bumped, denied boarding or having to cope with a delayed or cancelled flight.
How Should I Claim?
The key step in starting any claim is knowing whether you have a case to start with. On this site, you can enter details of your flight and quickly find out if compensation might be due – that completely without obligation.
We believe that our track record and reviews prove we are then the best solution for anyone considering making a claim. Benefits of our service are:
- No win, no fee
- More than 50,000 passengers helped
- More than £20m achieved in compensation
- 98% success rate
- Superb TrustPilot rating – 90% Excellent and Good
- If the airline fights it through to courts, we attend and you don’t have to.
- Fast-track process. Our past success means airlines often settle quickly, dragging the process out is not in their interest as it simply adds to their costs