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What are my rights when a flight is delayed?

Passengers who suffer flight disruption are often left unsure what they are entitled to (Alamy/PA)
Passengers who suffer flight disruption are often left unsure what they are entitled to (Alamy/PA)

Passengers who suffer flight disruption are often left unsure what they are entitled to.

Here the PA news agency answers 14 key questions on assistance and compensation.

Passengers sleeping at Gatwick airport
Passengers often struggle to receive the assistance they are entitled to during major disruption (Victoria Jones/PA)

– What flights are covered by UK consumer law?

Flights operated by an airline departing from a UK airport, flights operated by a UK or EU airline arriving at a UK airport, or flights operated by a UK airline arriving at an EU airport.

– How long must a flight be delayed before I am entitled to assistance?

It depends on the distance of the flight.

For flights under 1,500km (932 miles) such as from Glasgow to Amsterdam: at least two hours.

For flights between 1,500km (932 miles) and 3,500km (2,175 miles) such as from Manchester to Marrakesh: at least three hours.

For flights over 3,500km (2,175 miles) such as from Heathrow to New York: at least four hours.

– What should this assistance include?

A reasonable amount of food and drink (often via vouchers), a means for you to communicate (often by refunding the cost of phone calls), and accommodation and transfers if an overnight stay is required.

– What happens in reality?

Airlines often fail to provide this assistance during major disruption due to being overwhelmed by requests and there being a shortage of available rooms in local hotels.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says in this scenario, passengers can organise their own assistance and claim the costs back from the airline by submitting receipts.

– Does that mean I should book a luxury hotel suite and order champagne?

Airlines are unlikely to reimburse you for that. The CAA advises passengers not to “spend more than is reasonable”.

– How long must assistance be provided?

Until your flight takes off or you accept a refund after deciding not to travel.

– What about getting to my destination?

If a flight is cancelled, airlines are required to get you to your destination if you still want to travel.

Most will book you onto another of their flights, but you may be entitled to travel with another airline or by an alternative mode of transport if it will get you to your destination significantly sooner.

Passengers doing this are often required to purchase their own tickets and submit a claim to their original airline for reimbursement.

– What if I no longer want to travel?

You are entitled to a refund if you have been delayed by more than five hours.

– Am I entitled to compensation for a delayed flight?

Airlines may be liable for compensation if the reason for a delay is deemed within their control, such as a fault with the aircraft or pilot sickness.

Causes of disruption classed as outside their control include severe weather, air traffic control restrictions and security alerts.

– How much can I claim for a delay?

It depends on the length of the flight and how much its arrival was later than scheduled.

For flights under 1,500km (932 miles): £220 for a delay of at least three hours.

For flights between 1,500km (932 miles) and 3,500km (2,175 miles): £350 for a delay of at least three hours.

For flights over 3,500km (2,175 miles): £260 for a delay of at least three hours but less than four hours.

For flights over 3,500km (2,175 miles): £520 for a delay of at least four hours.

– What if my flight is cancelled?

You are entitled to a refund or a replacement flight.

– What are my rights to assistance?

The same as if your flight is delayed.

– Can I claim compensation if my flight is cancelled?

You can if the reason is deemed within the airline’s control, you received no more than 14 days’ notice, and depending on the timings of a new flight offered.

– If I can claim, how much money will I get?

Between £110 and £520, depending on the length of the route and the timings of a new flight.