Compensation for delays - what you need to know

114-clock Created with Sketch. Friday July 26 , 2019

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A delayed flight is something we all dread – there is only so much to see and do in an airport without spending a small fortune of money.

Did you know that almost 1.3 million airline passengers experienced flight delays of at least 3 hours in 2018, which equates to around 3500 passengers every day.

According to a report by consumer group Which?, the airlines with the greatest frequency of flight delays include Easy Jet (2,618), Ryan Air (1,868) and British Airways (1,668). Were you one of those passengers?

What you’re entitled to

Fortunately, EU Regulations (261/2004) are put in place to help those passengers affected by the dreaded delays. The regulations state that if passengers are delayed for more than 3 hours they may be entitled to financial compensation which can range from €250 to €600 depending on the length of the flight and the length of delay.

TOP TIP: if a passenger is delayed for more than 2 hours, the airline is required to provide refreshment vouchers and free communication via email and phone. If the delay is overnight the airline is required to provide you with hotel accommodation and transport to and from the hotel.

Passengers are protected for any flight from or within the EU and flights from a non-EU country into the EU, provided the airline is licensed in the EU. However, if any delay or cancellation is caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as extreme weather conditions, political instability or security problems, airlines may be exempt from these regulations.

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Claiming for a delayed flight

What you need & where you can get it:

  • Flight date – boarding pass
  • Flight number – boarding pass
  • Name of passengers – boarding pass & original passport
  • Reason for delay – if possible a written statement from the airline outlining this

If the airline did not offer any refreshment vouchers, passengers should keep all the receipts for any refreshments they have purchased and send them to the airline along with the claim request for a refund.

Be careful of accepting any quick offer from the airline, unless it matches the EU regulation 261/2004. If you accept an offer, you may forfeit your chance to claim compensation.

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How far back can you claim?

You can apply for compensation for any passenger delays going back as far as February 2005. However, it is extremely unlikely you will be able to go back as far as 2013. This is because in England, Wales and Northern Ireland due to the statute of limitations if you need to take an airline to court then you can only go back 6 years. In Scotland it is 5 years.

How to claim compensation for a delayed flight

When claiming compensation, you have two options available to you. Each of them have their pros and cons, you can do it on your own, or seek legal advice from a professional. Let’s have a look at the options:

Claiming on your own

If you are prepared to claim on your own, you need to be patient and armed with a good understanding of your passenger rights. Some people get their money after spending a lot of time fighting for it, some give up.

The first thing to do is get in touch with the airline and find out what the claiming process involves. Remember that you need to claim from the airline that was operating the flight, and not the third-party company that you booked it through.

Using a Solicitor

While a legal professional will do everything for you, and know the ins and outs of compensation claims, you will be expected to pay the upfront fees whether the claim is successful or not.

Resorting to a solicitor is time-consuming, involves a lot paperwork and can be expensive. However, their knowledge and experience may bring about a speedier conclusion.

Turn a negative into a positive

Yes, we all hate delays but unfortunately, they are out of our control. You could complain, get angry and shout at every airline staff member you see (we do not recommend you do this), or you could try to see the positive in the situation.

Use these hours to focus on work, buy a new book and spend some time to yourself or enjoy a nice meal with your family. Remember to share your story with Q review so your experience can help others.