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What happens when you're faced with travel delays or cancellations?

4 minutes

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You’re ready to jet off, but a flight cancellation or delay scuppers your plans. What are you entitled to? And what does your insurance cover you for?

  • If your flight is cancelled, you could be eligible to make a claim for the full ticket price from the airline.
  • If you're delayed overnight, the airline should pay for accommodation, meals and transfers.
  • If you need to book another flight urgently, your insurance may cover the difference in cost if it's more than the original ticket.

The UK travel industry has certainly had its challenges since the onset of the global pandemic in 2020. Not only did it cause huge disruption for travellers, but all those travel restrictions and flight cancellations led to large numbers of airline and airport staff losing their jobs.

Fast forward a few years and many airlines and airports face staff shortages just as people hoped to make up for lost time and get away on holiday again. And where did that leave us? You guessed it… with even more flight cancellation chaos. But what are your rights and does your travel insurance cover cancelled flights?

Discover our top tips on how to deal with cancelled or delayed flights, claiming compensation and what you‘re covered for by your travel insurance.

What are you covered for if your flight is delayed?

Flight delays and cancellations can cause huge problems. While a long delay can ruin your travel plans, you’ll usually be compensated by the airline for food and sometimes an overnight stay – depending on how long you’re left waiting around in the airport.

If your flight's cancelled and it's the airline's fault, you're entitled to full reimbursement of the ticket cost or a replacement flight to your destination from the airline.

What are you covered for if your flight is cancelled? 

According to the Civil Aviation Authoity (CAA), if your flight's cancelled, you can get a full refund from your airline for all parts of the ticket you haven't used.

You may also be able to claim additional compensation for any inconvenience caused, you’ll need to check with the airline to see if you're eligible.

Compensation for a cancelled flight

The amount of compensation you can claim depends on the distance of the flight and the length of delay to your arrival time.

If you received less than 14 days' notice of the cancellation, you may be able to claim compensation depending on what caused it and whether it was the airline's fault. Circumstances leading to cancelled flights that fall outside the airline's control, such as extreme weather, won't be eligible for compensation.

Check the Civil Aviation Authority for full details of what you're entitled to according to your circumstances.

It's important to note your compensation depends on the delay to your arrival time, not to your departure time. To work this out, always check an official flight delay checker to find out your flight’s information.

What if my flight is cancelled but I need to travel?

After cancelling a flight, the airline must let you choose either a refund or an alternative flight. If you need to travel as quickly as possible, you can ask your airline to book you on the next available flight - from any airline flying to the same destination. In practice, it may be quicker to arrange your own alternative flight and apply for a refund from the original airline.

If a new flight costs more than the original ticket price, you may be able to make up the difference thanks to your insurance. “If the new flight is more expensive, LV= will pay customers with a Premier policy up to £1,000 per person towards the difference.”

See our different cover levels for cancelled flights and what other protection we can offer, and have a read of some of the things you can claim for with our travel insurance.


If your flight's cancelled after you've checked in at the airport and the next flight isn’t until the next day, the airline should pay for:

  • Overnight accommodation if you're unable to return home
  • Transfers to and from the hotel
  • Meals and refreshments (usually in the form of vouchers)
  • A means of communicating (two telephone calls or emails)

If these arrangements don't materialise, and you end up out of pocket, keep all your receipts so you can make a claim directly with the airline. Remember they may only refund reasonable expenses, so only spend what's necessary.

Claiming for flight delays and cancellations

Before you claim compensation for delayed or cancelled flights, make sure you know the delay or cancellation is the airline's fault. Common problems that airlines accept responsibility for include:

  • Routine technical problems
  • Cancellation due to overbooking or under booking a flight
  • Staff shortages or sickness

There are some situations the airline won't take responsibility for, such as:

  • Strike or industrial action leading to cancellation
  • You missing your flight as a result of delays in airport processes, such as security or check-in

If you want to make a claim, you should contact the airline and inform them of the:

  • Flight number
  • Passengers
  • Cause of the delay or cancellation

Can an airline reject my compensation claim?

The airline may reject your request for compensation, in which case you can contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). They may be able to investigate further, offer additional support or even take action against airlines that don't comply with relevant consumer laws.

You may even be able to claim on a cancelled flight from several years ago. The UK's statute of limitations law lasts for six years, so you may still be due compensation – just make sure you have all the relevant information to hand.

Does travel insurance cover cancelled flights?

Travel insurance from LV= can cover you for flight cancellations and delays. Our Premier policy offers, per person on a policy, up to:

  • £10,000 if you choose to cancel your holiday where you can't travel within 24 hours due to cancelled or delayed transport
  • £1,000 for additional transport and accommodation costs
  • £25 expenses for each 12 hour period you are delayed at your departure point, up to £250

Be sure to take out travel insurance so you can enjoy your travel with the peace of mind that you’re covered, in case something goes wrong.

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