AirHelp say it better than I ever could: “Skyway Robbery”. The facts and figures related to airline compensation are truly remarkable:
8.1 million passengers each year are eligible to claim a refund for delayed flights. How many of these do you think make a claim? Only 2%. How many actually get paid the refund they are legally entitled to? An incredibly low 0.06% (less than 5,000 passengers).
Well, why is this? For two reasons:
- Passengers do not fully understand their rights when claiming refunds on delayed flights
- The process for claiming refunds on delayed flights is extremely complicated
What are the rights of passengers?
Just like refunds for trains, new rights came into place for air travel in 2014 which give a lot more certainty to both airlines and passengers. They include:
- automatic rerouting of travellers with rival carriers if a flight is delayed for more than 12 hours;
- clarification on what is considered exceptional circumstances for compensation;
- if a plane sits on the tarmac for more than five hours, passengers have the right to demand to be let off;
- if the tarmac delay is over an hour, the airline must provide air conditioning, water and the use of the toilets; and
- carriers cannot charge for correcting misspelt names on tickets.
When it comes to financial compensation, the rules have been set in tranches and these can be found in the table below.
Which flights can I claim for?
When claiming refunds on delayed flights, any flight taken from today are eligible for compensation. However, you may be surprised to learn that passengers are actually eligible to claim refunds on delayed flights dating back to 2007.
Eligible flights for this compensation fall under two types:
- Any flights leaving a European Union airport
- Any flights arriving into a European Union airport which are operated by a European Union carrier
There is one more criteria for your delayed flight which must be met, which is often open to debate and where the majority of disputes will arise. The delay has to be the airline’s fault (not due to bad weather, or due to ash clouds like we saw from Iceland a few years ago). Unfortunately, my recent episode of airline nightmares didn’t fall under this category, for example.
How much can I claim on a delayed flight?
This will probably surprise you, as it certainly surprised me: the compensation amounts are fixed, independent of the price of your original tickets! Therefore, whether you went first class with BA or cattle class with Ryanair, you will still be due the same amount of compensation.
The amounts of refunds possible for delayed flights are listed in the table below:
Type of flight
|Delay time||Compensation||Other information|
Flights under 1500km
Over 3 hours
Costs (food, drink, communication, accommodation) can also be claimed, independent of the reason for the delay.
Flights between 1500km and 3500km
|Any inter-EU flight over 1500km||
|Any EU to non-EU flight (and vice versa) over 3500km||Over 4 hours||
|Any EU to non-EU flight (and vice versa) over 3500km||Between 3 and 4 hours||€300 (£240)|
How do I claim a refund for delayed flights?
The first thing you should do is gather all the evidence you can before you make the claim. Try to timings – when the flight was originally scheduled to depart and arrive, what time were you let onto the plane, what time did you take off, what time did you land. Anything that you can remember or have evidence of will really help you in your claim.
If you have any proof that you took the flight (i.e. boarding card stubs, receipts from on-board purchases, etc) this will also help you get the compensation you deserve for your delayed flight.
Then, you should complain to your airline. Each airline has a different procedure when making their claim. Some require letters, some require emails, and others need you to fill in an online form. You can find this information on their website.
However, if you wish to save some of the legwork and hassle, there is a new service that you could use called Airhelp. All you need to do is fill in a short form and upload any documents that you have and they will pay the compensation into your bank account (less 25% of your compensation as a fee). If you don’t win your claim, they take nothing.
They also offer support and guidance on exactly what you can claim and their average compensation received is actually over €800 per claim (including costs or return journeys, etc):
If you wish to use this service, you will find the link below:
AirHelp – Get your money back
Additionally, you can make the process even easier by using the AirHelp iOS or Android apps.
What if the airline refuses my claim?
Unfortunately, the airlines have been known to refuse certain claims in order to try and save them a few pennies. Well, your endeavours don’t have to stop there.
If you think you are entitled to compensation, you can go to the civil aviation authority (CAA) and ask them to look at your case. This doesn’t bind the airline into paying compensation, but the CAA confirmation that they believe that the airline is in the wrong will certainly help you in your efforts to win your argument.
I hope that this helps you get the compensation that you deserve. Have you successfully claimed compensation for delayed flights before?