Flights delays and cancellations have been dominating the headlines recently and have led to chaotic scenes in airports across the UK.
Airlines and the aviation industry have blamed staff shortages and delays in completing staff background checks for the problems but that is small consolation for the many thousands of passengers whose holidays have been ruined.
Given the problems are likely to continue through the summer, what can passengers do if their flight is delayed or cancelled? Are they eligible for compensation and under which circumstances can they make a claim?
Elisa Ribeiro, legal adviser, at DAS Law, has the answers.
Can I claim compensation if my flight is being delayed or cancelled?
You may be able to get compensation if your flight is delayed or cancelled, unless you were due to be on any flight operated by and arriving from a country that is not part of the UK or EU, as those flights would not be covered under UK law.
How do I know if I am eligible to claim compensation?
To check whether you’re entitled to compensation you need to check the flight distance that you were due to be on against how long the flight has been delayed.
You also need to check the reason for the delay or cancellation as the airline would not be liable to compensate you if the reason was due to extraordinary circumstances. These could include:
- Acts of terrorism
- Political or civil unrest
- Security risks
- Unsafe weather conditions
- Hidden manufacturing defects
What can I claim for?
You should contact your airline representative as soon as you are aware of a delay as they should look after you and provide vouchers for reasonable food and drink while you wait.
In the unfortunate event that your flight is delayed overnight or has been cancelled, the airline has the obligation to provide you with reasonable food, drink and cover the costs for accommodation and travel.
How can I make a claim?
Always read the terms and conditions of your booking as their terms may be more generous that what you are already entitled to, as such, the best way to make a claim is to contact the airline directly and follow their process.
Alternatively, you may wish to engage in alternative dispute resolution and contact the Civil Aviation Authority. If all alternative routes fail, you can still exercise your right to bring a claim in the Civil Court against the airline. Please consider legal advice before engaging in any dispute.
I took the next available flight, but it was for the wrong airport, do I have to pay for travel to the correct airport?
If you return to the wrong airport, the airline should make arrangements for reasonable transport to the correct airport free of charge. If the airline asks you to make your own arrangements, such as traveling by taxi, ensure to keep receipts as you may be able to claim it back from the airline later.
I have been charged extra parking fees and I had to buy medicine because my supply ran out due to the delay, can I claim these costs back?
Should you incur any further costs directly as a result of the delay, such as parking, travel, or replacement of any perishables, such as medicine that expired or ran out due to the delay or cancellation, ensure to keep all of your receipts to form part of your claim.
Do they have to cover compensation if you have missed a day at work?
In addition, if you miss work due to the delay or cancellation and you can prove that it would cause you a financial loss, you may be able to claim your loss back from the airline later. Just be mindful that all expenses must be reasonable and therefore should be kept as low as possible.
Can I refuse to travel on the next flight available or at all?
If the delay is longer than 5 hours, you are entitled to refuse to travel and claim a full refund for the flight or flights in the same booking. If you’re on a connecting flight, you’re also entitled to a flight back to the original departure airport. Please note that if you do accept a refund or travel later than the next available flight, you will lose the right to claim for reasonable expenses.
Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created.
FWD Consulting: 020 7623 2368
Notes to Editors:
DAS UK Group: www.das.co.uk
The DAS UK Group comprises an insurance company (DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Company Ltd), a law firm (DAS Law), and an after the event (ATE) legal expenses division.
DAS UK introduced legal expenses insurance (LEI) in 1975, protecting individuals and businesses against the unforeseen costs involved in a legal dispute. In 2018 it wrote more than seven million policies.
The company offers a range of insurance and assistance add-on products suitable for landlords, homeowners, motorists, groups and business owners, while it’s after the event legal expenses insurance division offers civil litigation, clinical negligence and personal injury products. In 2013, DAS also acquired its own law firm – DAS Law – enabling it to leverage the firm’s expertise to provide its customers with access to legal advice and representation.
DAS UK is part of the ERGO Group, one of Europe’s largest insurance groups (the majority shareholder in ERGO is Munich Re, one of the world’s largest reinsurers).
DAS UK Group Twitter: https://twitter.com/DASLegalUK
DAS UK Group Facebook: www.facebook.com/DASUKGroup/
DAS UK Group LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/das-legal-expenses-insurance/
DAS Law LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/das-law/