Delayed and cancelled flights can make you feel lost and frustrated. Missing your connecting flight due to delay can cause your whole trip to be off schedule. When a flight is cancelled entirely, it’s even more of a hassle. You don’t know if you’ll be able to get another flight, and you might have to pay extra fees just to stay in a hotel or change your transportation plans.
EU Regulation 261, which passed in 2004, attempts to take some of the stress out of this situation for travelers. Specifically designed as a set of guidelines on what airlines must provide to delayed travelers, including care for passengers waiting for delayed or rescheduled flights, reimbursement of ticket costs, and compensation over and above ticket costs in certain cases to alleviate stress if your travels go south. Check out how EU 261 regulations affect your delayed or cancelled flight and what to do if your flight is cancelled.
What to Do if Your Flight Is Delayed
Flight cancellations and delays are very common. There were nearly 10,700 cancelled flights in Europe in one month of 2018 alone – that’s 2 percent of total air traffic! It’s important for travelers, frequent or not, to know what to do if their flight is delayed or cancelled. Here’s how you can take control of the situation, experience less stress, and get the compensation you deserve.
1. Be Prepared
Believe it or not, you can actually be prepared for a delayed or cancelled flight before the official announcement is even made. First, arrive to your gate early, before the scheduled boarding time. If your flight is cancelled at or before the time of boarding and you arrive at the gate late, you’ll be the last to know – and there will already be a crowd of frustrated people ahead of you in line to rebook.
When you’re at the gate, be aware of what’s going on. If boarding time has passed with no boarding call, or you see airport employees talking urgently or running around, get your airline phone number ready. A possible flight cancellation could be in your future.
If your flight is cancelled, make sure you know the reason why – if you aren’t sure, just ask airline personnel. You’ll need this information to claim compensation later on.
2. Call Your Airline
The very first thing to do once the official flight delay or cancellation announcement is made is to call your airline. The quicker you call your airline, the quicker you’ll be rebooked onto a new flight. Although not guaranteed, you’ll also have a better chance of getting a window or aisle seat for maximum comfort.
While you’re calling, make it a point to get in line at the gate desk. They can also rebook you for your next flight, and you’ll want to take advantage of whoever can get it done the fastest, whether that’s over the phone or at the airport. If the airline tells passengers to go to the main airline counter, get there quickly. Waiting in line will only lower your chances of getting rebooked.
3. Know Your Rights
If you’re flying within the EU, departing from the EU to another location, or are flying to the EU on an EU carrier, you’re covered by EU 261. Here’s what you’re entitled to as you wait at the airport:
If you’ve been issued a new ticket, but you have to wait in the airport for more than 2 hours for a short flight or 4 hours for a long flight, you’re entitled to airport care. Airport care means your airline must provide you with food and drink vouchers. If your delay is overnight, the airline must pay for a hotel room as well as transportation to and from the airport.
If your flight is delayed 5 hours or more, don’t feel like you have to wait around to continue on with your travels. The airline must give you a full refund for that flight and for other flights on that reservation. In addition, they must provide a flight back to your airport of origin if you’re part-way through a journey. Then, you may be able to rebook a flight on a different airline that will get you to your final destination faster.
3. Be Respectful, But Persistent
Although it can be difficult, when it comes to mastering delayed and cancelled flights, you shouldn’t let the stress get to you. If you’re a respectful, reasonable passenger who has educated yourself on what to do if your flight is cancelled—and know what you are and are not entitled to—you’re much more likely to get treated well. It’s true that Loyalty Club members will probably get priority treatment, but even if you’re not in the airline’s loyalty club, you can make sure you’re next in line by staying calm and treating employees with respect.
How to Get Compensation for Your Cancelled Flight
Once you’ve taken care of your immediate needs, like rebooking your seat or finding alternate transportation, you can submit a claim under EU Regulation 261.
Who Is Entitled to Flight Compensation?
If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you may be entitled to compensation. EU Regulation 261 entitles travelers whose flights were cancelled, or whose arrival at their destination was delayed more than 3 hours, to between 250 and 600 euros, depending on the hardship endured. It includes flights within the EU, as well as all flights departing from the EU. If your flight was travelling to the EU from an outside destination, and was operated by an EU carrier, you’re also covered.
There are specific instances where a payout will be issued when the airline is determining whether or not a passenger is entitled to compensation. Only flights that are delayed or cancelled due to “extraordinary circumstances” are usually covered. This means if your flight is cancelled due to weather, worker strikes, or something else outside the airline’s control, you may not be covered. On the other hand, reasons within the airline’s control, like mechanical issues, are covered.
How Much Flight Compensation Will I Get?
Flight cancellation compensation depends on the distance of the flight and whether you missed a connecting flight. The amount is calculated over the entire journey that you’ve booked under the same reservation. If you’re flying from Rome to London to New York, but only your Rome to London flight was cancelled (a distance of only 1435 km), you’re still entitled to the maximum compensation, because the total travel distance of all the flights was over 3500 km.
TravelRefund experts will help you figure out the details of your claim. The important thing is to know what to do if your flight is cancelled and how to submit a claim.
How Do I Submit a Flight Compensation Claim?
You can submit a flight compensation claim directly with your airline – but the majority of the time, the airline will reject your complaint. You can appeal, but your chances of success are greater if you use a company that specializes in flight delay compensation, like TravelRefund. Here’s what to do if your flight is delayed or cancelled and you think you’re entitled to compensation:
- Click “Get Your Claim” on our website and fill out the form to determine if you may be entitled to compensation.
- You’ll need to know your overall route, the flight number of the affected flight and the reason for the delay or cancellation, among other information.
- Enter your information at the bottom of the form and we’ll contact you to help you file your claim.
- We take care of filing your claim and all the communication with the airline. All we may need from you is a copy of your e-ticket, depending on the airline.
Flight delays and cancelled flights are never fun, but there are steps you can take to make the process easier. You’ve taken the first step to become an educated traveller, and now you know what to do if your flight is cancelled. Follow these steps, and you’ll be first in line to get the compensation you deserve.