If your flight is delayed, the ramifications can be huge.
The delay might change plans, it might lead to important events being missed, or it could get a holiday of a lifetime off to the worst of starts.
For airlines, flight delays are just part of the business, they are a statistical certainty – they operate tens of thousands of flights, some of them will be subjected to delays.
As a passenger, being on the wrong end of the flight delay statistics is much more impactful.
Airlines want to do as little as possible to rectify the problems created by delays, they will get passengers to their destinations, but they’re not overly keen on issuing apologies or, more importantly, paying out compensation.
Legally, though, there are steps they can be forced in to. If your flight is delayed, you might be entitled to a lot more than simply a few vouchers for food and drink and a cursory ‘sorry about that’. It might be that you are entitled to significant compensation, potentially running to thousands of pounds for your party.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about how you file a flight delay complaint, and how to do so with the best prospect of it leading to recompense.
First a quick note on what not to…
Don’t seek compensation at the airport.
If your flight is delayed, it might be tempting to walk over to the flight operator’s customer service desk and demand some form of compensation. You might feel, with justification, that as well as getting you on to alternate flights, the airline owes you something for the impact they have had on your onward plans.
If the airline does offer any form of compensation at this stage, it will be little more than a token offer and not close to what you might receive through a more considered approach.
The airline might, for example, offer you compensation in the form of some vouchers for future flights. If you accept this offer, foregoing any future compensation claims against the flight, you have let them off cheaply; instead of having to give you money they have handed over vouchers which may never get used and, regardless, effectively cost the airline nothing.
At the airport, if your flight is delayed, you of course need to sort out alternate arrangements. You might need to push for vouchers for food and drink to cover the delay and, if the delay is considerable and goes overnight, hotel accommodation might be required.
The airline is likely to be helpful in facilitating these needs to sort out your immediate priorities. Compensation can wait, that is something to be tackled once the initial stress has died down, you are back from the trip and able to take a more dispassionate view.
You have up to six years to make a claim, you don’t need it sorting in the next half hour.
The three options for filing a complaint
In talking of filing a complaint, we are referring to a complaint that is made with the aim of also leading to compensation.
You can, of course, also just file a complaint to get rid of some anger but it’s unlikely to have much impact. Fights get delayed, airline bosses don’t want delays, but they’re not going to lose sleep over an individual delay and the impact it had on any one particular group of passengers. For complaints to make airlines take note, they have to hit them on the balance sheet.
To make such a complaint, you can do so through any of the three following sources – as a spoiler, we believe the third and final one is highly advantageous.
Filing the complaint yourself
You can file a complaint yourself. Finding out who to complain to at any individual airline is not too taxing – they should tell you at customer services, or it will be on their website. After that, it becomes less straightforward as the airline is not simply going to pay you compensation.
They will make it as difficult as possible for you to get the money by making the process time consuming and full of form filling, potentially hearings to attend and by requiring every tiny piece of detail.
Essentially, it is a numbers game to the airline; by making the process as infuriating as possible, they will ensure that most claimants drop out or at worst (for them) end up accepting a low offer. After many hours spent form filling, answering questions, involved in back and forth, the claimant will often take any low pay out just to bring the process to an end.
Hiring a lawyer
Probably the worst option is to hire a lawyer. With the compensation available capped at around £600 per flight per passenger (the figure varies depending on length of delay and distance of flight), the cost of a lawyer will not be justified. The lawyer can still only get you the same compensation, but their fee will take a potentially overwhelming chunk of the money.
With a lawyer there is still the hassle of finding a good lawyer who seems suitable and then giving them full details of your flight and claim. The progress will also be slow as this will be far from the lawyer’s only priority and their success rate will be unmonitored.
Don’t use a lawyer!
Using a flight reclaim expert
This, of course, is somewhat of a plug for the type of service we provide, but please hear us out!
At Flight Reclaim, helping passengers file complaints and get compensation for delays (and other issues) is what we do. We know how to make the complaints and we have an overwhelming success rate, with compensation received in 98% of cases – this equating to more than £20 million in compensation spread across some 50,000 passengers.
On the independent TrustPilot, we have superb reviews from hundreds of passengers we have helped.
Unlike using a lawyer, we operate on a fully no win, no fee basis and also have a far greater likelihood of achieving a quick result. The airlines know we will follow the correct procedure, know that we know their tricks and so know that they are best served simply paying out quickly rather than wasting their own and time and money in blocking.
If you have suffered from a flight that has been delayed and would like to see if you are eligible for compensation, please simply fill in a few simple details – this is on an obligation-free basis.
You can also get more information on this site about whether your flight is likely to qualify for compensation and also compensation available for other disruptions – for example if you are ever bumped from an over-booked flight.
If you would like to speak to an adviser in person, please call us on 0161 883 2662