How to make a claim when your flight is delayed

We may be quitting the EU, but flight delay claims can continue after Brexit

Published: November 9, 2018 at 3:25 pm

When you travel by plane you may have a right to compensation from the airline if your flight arrives more than three hours late.


Compensation doesn’t apply to flights landing in the UK on a non-EU airline; and the amount of compensation depends on distance.

For flights within the EU it’s normally €250 or €400. The mounts are per passenger and can be far more than the fare paid. They are on top of any money or vouchers for hotels, travel, food, or replacement flights.

These rights are given to us under EU law and the Government says they will continue under UK law even if we leave the EU with no deal. However, interpretation of this law is currently decided by the European Court of Justice whose jurisdiction will end when the UK leaves. So there may be more scope for challenges by airlines in future.

The airline can avoid paying if the delay was due to what are called extraordinary circumstances. Over many years, UK and European courts have made it clear that this exception has to be outside the airline’s control – such as a bird strike, extreme weather, or civil unrest. The European Court of Justice ruled earlier this year that a strike by the airline’s own staff is not an extraordinary circumstance.

However, Ryanair claims it is obeying the law in refusing to pay compensation to the hundreds of thousands of passengers affected by a wave of strikes this summer by its own pilots. The Civil Aviation Authority disagrees and its website makes it clear that only strikes by people not employed by the airline are extraordinary circumstances. That dispute is likely to end up in the courts.

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If your flight arrives three hours or more late – timed when the plane’s door is opened – you should always claim.

If refused, appeal and then consider pursuing the claim through the small claims court.


Get free assistance with claims at The lawyers work on a no win, no fee basis and only charge when the compensation they achieve on your behalf is more than three times their fee.


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