How to claim compensation from your airline after a travel delay

If you are travelling with an EU airline and you experience a delay of more than 3 hours you are entitled to compensation from the airline of between €250 and €600 depending on the duration of the delay and the distance of the flight.

Please note: Even though the UK has now left the EU, the rules regarding air passengers rights will remain the same until at least the end of the transition period.

Find out more about your rights here >>

Please note, you are not entitled to compensation if the flight delay was due to extraordinary circumstances outside of the airline’s control, such as extreme weather or industrial action.

Once you are sure that you are entitled to compensation you will need to contact the airline to make a claim.

1. Follow the airline’s compensation procedure

Most airlines publish a standard procedure for submitting compensation claims.  Look on their website or contact their customer service department for details.  Following their standard procedure will give the best chance of getting your claim dealt with swiftly.

If there is no standard procedure you should write or email their customer services department in the first instance.

2. Provide full details of your delay

The airline will be using the information you send to decide whether you are entitled to compensation, so it is important to provide all of the details - explain clearly what happened and when.

Send as much detail as you can and make it clear that you are entitled to compensation.  This should include:

  • Your contact details – including address, email and phone number
  • Full details of all passengers – including names and addresses
  • Your booking reference & flight number
  • Travel dates, departure and destination airports
  • Details of where the disruption occurred
  • Information about the length of delay
  • The names of any staff you spoke to

3. Provide evidence to support your claim

Unfortunately the airline won’t just take your word for it that you were on a flight which was delayed or canceled, you will need to send supporting documentation to prove it.  You should send in the following:

  • Copies of all receipts, if you are claiming for out of pocket expenses
  • Copies of tickets, boarding cards and booking confirmations

Never send original documents. Always send copies and hang on to the originals yourself.  You can send in originals once a claim has been settled if requested to do so by the airline.

4. Keep copies of everything

Keep copies of all correspondence in case any get lost, or you need to take your complaint further. 

5. What if the airline don’t pay your claim

If don’t get the response you were hoping for from your airline you can contact the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority who may be able to help you.  If they are not able to help can consider making a claim for compensation through the courts.

Travel insurance and flight delays

In addition to your airline being obligated to look after you in the event of a delay, most travel insurance policies provide cover for travel delay, which becomes applicable if your flight is delayed by more than 12 hours due to strike, adverse weather or mechanical breakdown.

Travel delay cover usually takes the form of a fixed benefit to help you cover additional expenses such as food and drink whilst you wait at the airport.

After a delay of 12 hours or more Gold and Platinum travel insurance from also gives you the option to 'abandon' your holiday and make a claim to recoup the cost of unused flights and accommodation.

Travel delay and abandonment cover is included on our Gold and Platinum travel insurance policies.

Get a quote for travel insurance with travel delay cover »