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Flight delays and your travel insurance

When you can claim compensation for a delayed flight

Airport departures board

You've chosen your hotel, packed your suitcase, now you just need to check in for your flight. It's all going swimmingly until you notice the flight has been delayed. Can you get compensation for a delayed flight and does your travel insurance help with any related costs?

When flying from an EU airport or with an EU registered airline that arrives at an EU airport, your airline is responsible for looking after you if your flight gets delayed by at least two hours.

You should also check your travel insurance policy, as some, like LV='s Premier travel insurance provide additional financial assistance when your flight is delayed.

Delayed flight compensation

In 2012 there was a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice that gave certain rights to travellers whose flights were severely delayed.

As a result travellers are entitled to different levels of compensation depending on how long they've been delayed. So, after a two hour delay travellers should be offered:

  • Two free phone calls, emails or faxes
  • A meal or snack and a drink depending on the time of day
  • Overnight accommodation if necessary

If your flight arrives more than three hours after its original arrival time you can also claim financial compensation in addition to more refreshments. The amount of compensation depends on how far you're flying and how long you get delayed.

For short haul flights of up to 1,500km you're entitled to €250 per person. For flights between 1,500km and 3,500km you're entitled to €400.

For long haul flights over 3,500km that are delayed between three and four hours, you can claim for €300 per person and €600 per person if delayed for more than four hours.

To be able to make a claim the delay must be the fault of the airline. If there is an 'extraordinary circumstance', such as severe weather or a pilots' strike, then you probably won't be able to claim for the delay.

To be able to make a claim the delay must be the fault of the airline

Denied boarding – aka being bumped

If you get bumped from a flight because the airline has overbooked for example, then you also have certain rights.

You're eligible for a refund, or a new flight if you still want to travel. Plus, if you're delayed arriving by more than three hours, you can claim compensation.

Cancelled flights

Like being bumped, if your flight is cancelled, you can ask for a refund of the cost of the ticket, or you can accept an alternative flight.

If the alternative route means that you arrive later than you would have done on your original flight, then you may be offered compensation depending on how long you've been delayed.

With LV= Premier cover you're insured for up to £10,000 towards alternative transport and accommodation costs if it's clear your transport is going to be delayed by more than 24 hours. This means, for example, you can get on and book alternative flights, so you don't have to wait around to get your holiday started.

Abandoning your flight

After a delay of five hours or more, you can choose to abandon your flight and claim the cost of your ticket back from the airline. If this includes return flights then the airline will reimburse you for those as well.

Your travel insurance may also provide some cover if you decide to abandon your holiday because of a severe delay flying out to your destination.

What about other transport delays?

The EU regulations only apply to flights from the EU or into the EU on an EU registered airline. They don't cover flights by non-EU registered carriers back to the EU or by EU registered carriers that fly to and from non-EU countries.

So, if your flight is delayed and you need to pay out for extra meals and drinks whilst you wait, or even for overnight accommodation, you should check your travel insurance policy. You may be covered, at least in part, for these additional expenses.

The same applies if your ferry, coach or train is delayed as well and you find yourself paying for costs you didn't expect.

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