The LV= travel delays quiz: when can you claim compensation?

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Planes, trains and Eurostar journeys – see how well you know your compensation rights with our quiz on UK and EU travel rights by land, air and sea.

  • When aren’t you eligible for compensation on a delayed flight?
  • How are your rights on a ferry different to your rights on a cruise?
  • Which airport is guilty of the longest delays in departures?

Question 1

If your flight is delayed, which of the following reasons means that the airline isn’t obliged to pay compensation?

a) The airline has a staff shortage

b) There is volcanic ash in the flight route

c) The plane has an engine fault

d) You are ‘bumped’ from your flight due to overbooking

Answer: b

Firstly, if your flight is delayed, always check your compensation rights with your airline before contacting your travel insurance provider. However, you could be compensated through your insurance for certain things that your airline won’t cover.

Any weather conditions that could affect the safety of the flight count as ‘exceptional circumstances’, meaning that the delay is not the fault of the airline. According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), other exceptional circumstances include.

  • Acts of terrorism or sabotage
  • Political or civil unrest
  • Security risks
  • Strikes (unrelated to the airline such as, airport staff, ground handlers, or air traffic control)
  • Weather conditions incompatible with the safe operation of the flight
  • Hidden manufacturing defects (a manufacturer recall that grounds a fleet of aircraft)

If you answered c) you get half a point as hidden manufacturing defects can include engine faults.

A CAA spokesperson (@UK_CAA) pointed to a section of the EU’s guidance containing further detail: ‘a hidden manufacturing defect revealed by the manufacturer of the aircraft or by a competent authority, or damage to the aircraft caused by acts of sabotage or terrorism, would qualify as extraordinary circumstances.’ 

Question 2

Which of the following statements about leaves on the line is false?

a) Network Rail has leaf-busting trains to clear leaves

b) Leaves on the railway line can make the track slippery and affect signals

c) Network Rail can’t remove trees from near the tracks for conservation reasons 

d) Network Rail carefully monitors how many leaves have fallen off the trees

Answer: c

Wet leaves form a slick, black paste on railway tracks, which can affect traction and grip for locomotives. It can also disrupt track circuit signals, causing them to fail to identify trains on the line, which could lead to an accident.

Network Rail have ‘32 multipurpose vehicles and 29 locomotive-hauled rail head treatment trains (RHTT)’ to clear the tracks.

Both types of vehicle have high pressure water cannons that can blast leaves off the tracks thanks to 2,200psi pumps, as well as ‘adhesion modifier’ nozzles – a mixture of gel, sand and metal shot that improves traction on the rails.

‘Network Rail teams work all year round to minimise the impact of leaves on the line,’ says a Network Rail spokesperson (@networkrail). ‘Our ongoing vegetation management programme means fewer leaves fall on the tracks, and in autumn, our teams work around the clock using specialist machines to clean the railhead and keep the railway running safely.’

In an effort to improve safety and reduce delays, Network Rail have also started to remove trees that they identified as ‘problem trees’ using their national ‘tree census’ database. However, there has been concern at the scope of the felling, with a number of local councils acting to protect trees, including Bromley

Question 3

What caused a third of air traffic delays in Europe in 2017?

a) France’s out-of-date air traffic control equipment

b) Overtaxed runways due to the growth of budget airlines

c) Late or unruly passengers

d) Bad weather

Answer: a

France’s ill-equipped air traffic control system and strikes by employees are causing 33% of delays, according to a report published by French senator Vincent Capo-Canellas.

Capo-Canellas says France’s outdated air traffic control equipment is struggling to cope with the increase in flights – there were 4% more European flights in 2017 than in 2016.

Strikes are also playing their part. Between 2004 and 2016, air traffic controllers in France were on strike for 254 days. One of the main reasons the French controllers are striking is the lack of investment in their equipment. 

Question 4

If you have bought a train ticket but choose not to travel you can’t claim for compensation if…

a) Your train service is disrupted

b) You bought an advance ticket but chose not to travel

c) Your train service is cancelled

d) You bought an anytime day ticket on the day but chose not to travel

Answer: b

If the service is not disrupted or cancelled, and you choose not to use a ticket that you’ve bought, you can apply for compensation. However, certain tickets, including most advance tickets, are non-refundable, so check when you purchase one.

According to the National Rail Conditions of Travel, you have to apply for a refund no later than 28 days after the ticket expires if the service wasn’t disrupted or cancelled. However, you won’t get a full refund as an administration charge of no more than £10 per ticket will be applied.

You can also claim a refund if you arrive at your destination station 60 minutes or later after the scheduled arrival time. Check the National Rail Conditions of Travel for information on how to apply for compensation.

Question 5

What is the key difference between compensation for cruise and ferry passengers who experience delays?

a) Cruise passengers can claim 50% of their ticket fee, ferry passengers only 25%

b) Ferry operators must pay claims within a week, cruise operators get a month

c) Only ferry passengers get compensation if delays were caused by the weather

d) Cruise passengers aren’t entitled to a fixed amount of compensation 

Answer: d)

Ferry passengers have very specific compensation conditions: they can claim 25% of their ticket price if their ferry service is delayed by, at least:

  • One hour for a journey of duration four hours
  • Two hours for a journey of duration between four and eight hours
  • Three hours for a journey of duration between eight and 24 hours
  • Six hours for a journey of duration of over 24 hours

If the delay is double that time (for example, two hours for a journey lasting four hours), the compensation goes up to 50% the ticket price. Ferry operators must pay compensation within a month.

Cruise passengers’ compensation rights are laid out in the Package Travel Regulations. New regulations came into force in July. 

Question 6

A BBC study of Civil Aviation Data has found that flights from which London airport were delayed longer than from any other in the UK?

a) Stanstead

b) Luton

c) Gatwick

d) Heathrow

Answer: b

In 2017, Luton was one of three London airports in the UK’s top ten with the highest departing flight delays. On average, planes left Luton 19.7 minutes later than scheduled.

Gatwick came a close second and Stanstead sat in ninth. Jersey, Durham Tees Valley and Birmingham made up the top five.

Heathrow actually had the shortest delays, with planes leaving the airport 11 minutes late, on average. Passengers from another London airport, London City, also experienced shorter delays, as did those from Leeds Bradford, Belfast City and Exeter. 

Question 7

If your Eurostar train is delayed by more than 60 minutes, you’re entitled to compensation. Eurostar offer e-vouchers for future services to compensate disrupted travellers. Which of the following is false about the e-voucher policy?

a) You can use your e-voucher in any country, no matter what currency it is in 

b) You can claim a refund instead of an e-voucher

c) You can give your e-voucher to someone else

d) Eurostar e-vouchers can be used to book more than one service

Answer: a

Eurostar encourages passengers who experience delays of more than 60 minutes to apply for an e-voucher. However, you can request a partial refund if you would prefer. If you are unlikely to use an e-voucher, consider selling it to a friend, as anyone can use your e-voucher code as long as it’s in the right currency – e-vouchers in pound sterling can only be used on UK services. 


7 – flying high

4-6 – cruising altitude

1-3 – hitting turbulence

So, whether you’re travelling by land, air or sea, knowing your compensation rights could help you earn back some of the money you forfeit due to delays and cancellations.

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