If your flight is delayed you might be entitled to make a claim, but how much are you entitled to?
In this post, we look at how the amount of compensation available varies by both the distance of flight and length of delay. We also give advice on how to claim and how to avoid the tactics airlines use to either minimise the payout or avoid in entirely.
How Much Compensation
Let’s start with how much compensation you can claim.
For compensation to be applicable, your flight has to be delayed for at least three hours. Shorter delays might see the airline have a responsibility to provide refreshments and food – often in the form of vouchers to be used at the airport – but they won’t be paying compensation. This will apply however great the inconvenience caused by the delay, the airline simply is not required to pay compensation for flights delayed by under three hours.
The flip side to this is that if the delay is more than three hours the airline is, with some exceptions as we’ll outline, required to pay out.
The amount of flight compensation available is determined by a sliding scale. This scale is based on the distance and length of delay, the cost of the tickets is irrelevant. A £20 ticket entitled to the same compensation as one bought for £400 for the same flight.
Table of flight compensation by distance of flight / length of delay
|Delay to your arrival||Flight distance||Compensation|
|3 hours or more||Less than 1,500km||€250|
||Between 1,500km and 3,500km||€400|
||More than 1,500km and within the EU||€400|
|3-4 hours||More than 3,500km, between an EU and non-EU airport||€300|
|4 hours or more||More than 3,500km, between an EU and non-EU airport||€600|
The lowest payout is therefore €250 – this figure applying in a large number of cases as it applies to flights that are less than 1,500km for any length of delay of three hours or more. This payout will be applicable, for example, for most family holidays within Europe – as the payout is per passenger for a family of four it would equate to a nice round €1,000.
Another common amount is €400, this the amount of compensation for flights within the EU of more than 1,500km.
The largest payout of €600 would be the compensation for flights that are delayed by at least four hours, are for more than 3,500km and are between an EU and non-EU airport. Clearly, this will often apply to the trips that are of more consequence – the family holiday of a lifetime, the trip to see relatives on the other side of the world, the business trip that could land a huge deal.
It is worth noting that the precedent set in European law fixed the figure in Euros and so the amount in pounds will vary as the exchange rate fluctuates. At the time of writing, €600 would equate to £548, while the €250 figure equals £228 – still more than £900 for a family of four.
The Battle To Get Paid
The bad news – Airlines don’t just hand over the cash
Flights are regularly delayed, the compensation burden for operators is huge, it is not surprising that they don’t want to make it overly straightforward to claim what you might feel entitled to.
The airline will often make the claim complicated and will fight against making a payment. It might be that the passenger is entitled to the money, but they know that by making the claim complex, by fighting at every stage and by continually dragging out the timeline many will drop out.
With no progress made on claims there can be a natural feeling that it is no longer worth pursuing.
Another tactic is to offer low compensation as a way to cheaply end the case. This will often be offered at the airport, perhaps an offer of flight vouchers or a small payment by way of compensation. By accepting this, any passenger has waved their right to any future compensation, the airline has got away with a fee well below what they might have been forced to pay.
It is well wroth remembering that while you might need an alternate flight arranging, you do not need to sort your compensation out in a hurry. Claims can be made up to six years after the flight – if you are subject to a delay, deal with the upheaval caused by the delay, don’t focus on compensation at that time.
It is also worth noting that if the delays is caused by factors deemed to be outside the airline’s control then they are not forced to pay compensation. Weather and natural disasters fall into this category so too, perhaps more controversially, strikes by workers at the airport – for instance baggage handlers. Strikes by employees of that specific airline would, though, in most cases, lead to a successful compensation claim.
About Flight Reclaim
At Flight Reclaim, we are a company that hopefully you will never need to contact – we are a company to get in touch with if things go wrong.
Unfortunately, things do go wrong. Flights get cancelled, passengers get bumped from busy flights, there are regular delays and disruptions.
We help passengers get the compensation they are entitled to – this on a no win, no fee basis and with a 98% success rate.