Flight delays and cancellations: What are your rights?

Added 10/06/2022

Flight cancellations and delays have been in the news a lot over the last couple of weeks, in this article we’re summarising the support you should expect from your airline or tour operator and also where your travel insurance can help.

The following rules apply if you are departing a UK airport on any airline or arriving at a UK airport on an EU or UK airline.

Delayed flight

If your flight is delayed you are entitled to care and assistance from your airline whilst you are waiting, the timescales for this vary depending on the length of your flight; for short haul flights the delay must be more than 2 hours, for long haul flights it is 4 hours.

If your delay reaches these thresholds your airline must provide you with food and drink (usually vouchers), a means for you to communicate and accommodation if you are delayed until the following day.

In addition to this, if you flight arrives at your destination more than 3 hours late you may be entitled to compensation of up to £520 (long-haul flights) from your airline.

For full details of your rights visit the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) website:

Travel delay and travel insurance

If you are at the airport and your flight has been delayed, you may also be able to make a claim on your travel insurance.  This usually takes the form of a benefit payment to help cover additional costs such as food and drink.  

Alternatively, if your delay is longer than 12 hours, you may also have the option to abandon your holiday and make a claim to recoup the cost.

Gold, Platinum and Cruise Specific policies from Goodtogoinsurance.com include the following cover for travel delay and abandonment*:
  • A benefit of £20 per person for each full 12-hour delay (up to a total of £100)

  • Cover to abandon your holiday and make a claim to re-coup the cost up to the amount stated on your schedule of benefits (this will be the same as the amount of cancellation cover you have on your policy). 

*Travel delay and abandonment cover does not apply if your flight has been cancelled by your airline.

Cancelled flights

If the airline cancels your flight, they are legally required to provide you with a full refund or an alternative flight. 

If your flight was cancelled with less than 14 days’ notice you may also be entitled to compensation from the airline.

For full details of your rights visit the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) website:

Travel insurance and cancelled flights

There is no travel insurance cover when an airline cancels your flight as the airline is legally obliged to refund you or provide an alternative.

Where travel insurance does help is if your flight is still operating, but you are unable to travel due to ill health or a number of other specified reasons, such as the death of a close relative, being called for jury service or your home becoming uninhabitable.

Get a travel insurance quote for your next holiday

The most important reason to get appropriate insurance when you travel is to provide cover for emergency medical expenses and repatriation, which protects you from the risk of incurring large medical bills if you fall ill or have an accident abroad.

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