People stand in an airport with bags.

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 can you do about it? And what are you covered for?

  • If your flight is cancelled, you could be eligible to make a claim for the full ticket price.
  • If you're delayed overnight, the airline should pay for accommodation, meals and transfers.
  • If you need to book another flight urgently, you'll have to get another ticket for the journey.
Discover our top tips on how to deal with cancelled flights and delayed flights, claiming compensation for delayed flights and cancelled ones, and what you’re covered for by your travel insurance.

Cancelled flights and delayed flights

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 is cancelled and it's the airline's fault, you should be offered either a full reimbursement of the ticket cost or a replacement flight to your destination

What are you covered for if your flight is cancelled?

According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, if your flight is delayed or cancelled, you should be reimbursed for the full ticket price. You may also be able to claim additional compensation for any inconvenience caused.

To qualify, your flight must have been:

Leaving from a UK, EU or European Free Trade Association (EFTA) airport
Arriving at a UK, EU or EFTA airport

Most countries within Europe fall into one of these three groups. If your flight isn’t to or from Europe, or falls outside of the above groups, you’ll need to check with the airline.

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.

Here’s how it’s broken down:

Less than 1,500km

  • £110 if your departure is a minimum of one hour earlier or up to two hours later than scheduled
  • £220 if your arrival is a minimum of two hours later than booked

1,500km – 3,500km

  • £175 if your departure is a minimum of one hour earlier or up to three hours later than scheduled
  • £350 if your arrival is a minimum of three hours later than booked.

More than 3,500km

  • £260 if your departure is a minimum of one hour earlier or up to four hours later than scheduled
  • £520 if your arrival is a minimum of four hours later than booked.

It's important to note that 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 and see if you can claim.

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

After cancelling a flight, the airline may inform you that they're unable to offer you an alternative.

If you need to travel as quickly as possible, you may have to book a flight with another airline. Poor weather is likely to ground all flights, but technical issues might affect just one company.

“In this scenario, the airline should offer compensation if they didn't pay for the total cost of the original cancelled flight and the new flight costs more.” LV= Travel Team spokesperson.  

But 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.

Can you claim if your flight is delayed?

If your flight is delayed for more than three hours, you can claim compensation. You can also claim compensation for a delayed flight if you're denied boarding due to the airline overbooking, even if you volunteered to join a later flight.

What are you covered for if your flight is delayed?

This all depends on how long your delay is. It’s always a good idea to keep your receipts so you can still claim, no matter how short your delay is. If you’ve only experienced a short delay, you may only be compensated for a meal and drinks while in the airport.

Compensation for delayed flights

If your delay is long enough to force you to stay the night, the airline should pay for your:

  • Accommodation
  • Transfers to and from the hotel
  • Meals and refreshments
  • Two telephone calls or emails

The amount of compensation you can claim for a flight delay depends on:

  • Your flight distance
  • How long you are delayed for
  • If you are flying to an EU or non-EU location

Here’s how it’s broken down:

Three hours-plus delay

  • £220 if your flight is less than 1,500km
  • £350 if your flight is between 1,500km and 3,500km or over 1,500km and inside the EU

Four hours-plus delay

  • £420 if your flight is over 3,500km and between an EU and non-EU airport

Check out what cover levels are available for delayed flights and additional extras you can choose.

Claiming for flight delays and cancellations

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

  • Routine technical problems
  • Cancellation due to overbooking or under booking of a flight
  • Crew turning up late

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

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

There will be times where circumstances that aren’t the airline’s fault can cause delays and you unfortunately won’t receive compensation for. For instance, if there is industrial action or bad weather.

Can an airline reject my insurance claim?

The airline may reject your claim, 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 do not 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.

What does my travel insurance cover?

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 your holiday is cancelled or abandoned because of delays
  • £1,000 for additional transport and accommodation costs
  • £250 expenses when you’re delayed at your departure point
  • £10,000 should your travel provider go bankrupt

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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