Air travellers have endured weeks of disruption caused by strikes, staff shortages and more. But unfortunately for those jetting off this summer, the chaos isn’t over yet, with the looming threat of flight delays and cancellations this summer, as well as long waits to check-in and for baggage claim. So what are your legal rights if you are one the UK flyers affected this summer, and what should you do if the worst happens?
When the worst happens, it can be stressful and hard to know what to do, so it’s important that before heading to the airport, travellers are aware of the legal rights that protect them when their flight is delayed or cancelled.
If flights are cancelled, travellers have the legal right to either a full refund, including any flights within the booking that won’t be used as a result (return flight) or a replacement flight that will get them to their destination. Additionally, if a different airline is flying to the same destination, at an earlier time, or there are more suitable modes of transport, then they have a right to be booked onto that transport instead.
If people are waiting long enough for replacement flights, airlines legally have to help with things travellers may need, including food and drink, access to phone calls or emails, accommodation, and transport to and from that accommodation if they are delayed overnight. Compensation in this way may be given in the form of vouchers to be used at the airport and other facilities.
If a flight is travelling less than 1,500km (932 miles), the delay must be at least two hours for the traveller to receive any additional support while waiting for a replacement flight, whereas if the flight is between 1,500km and 3,500km (2,175 miles) they have to wait three hours to be eligible for support.
What if my flight is delayed?
If flights are delayed by more than two hours, travellers are entitled to the same assistance from airlines as when a flight is cancelled.
Travellers may also be in the position to claim compensation from airlines if they arrive at their destination more than three hours late, but again, like replacement services what they are entitled to will depend on the flight distance.
If flights are delayed by more than five hours and people decide that they no longer want to travel, they will be entitled to a full refund from the airline.
Make sure to ask for this refund or compensation while at the airport if possible. If this is not feasible then you can claim from the airline later.
What can I do to reduce the worry of cancelled flights?
To reduce the worry of cancelled flights travellers can check their airline’s website or app for the status of their journey.
It is also important that they take out travel insurance before booking, as it means that when a flight is cancelled or delayed they can contact their insurance company and discuss how to begin the claim process if necessary.