UK Flight Delay Compensation Guide -

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Compensation and UK Flight Delay Rights

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UK Flight Delay Compensation

No-one enjoys a long wait at the airport but getting compensation for your delayed flights can certainly take the sting out of it. As long as your flight began in the EU, or landed in the EU with a European airline, you could be eligible to claim. The airline must be responsible for the cause of the delay, and you need to have reached the final airport in your trip with a delay of at least 3 hours.

Our free online claimcheck will let you know if you meet these conditions. Simply tell us your flight details and we’ll tell you if you are eligible to receive flight delay compensation.

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What are my flight delay rights?

  • You are entitled to compensation if you arrive at your final destination 3 hours later than planned.
  • The airline must be responsible for the delay (e.g. technical problem).
  • Compensation ranges between €250-600. It depends on the distance of your flights.
  • The airline has to provide food and drink after 2 hours of delay and hotel accommodation if your flight is delayed overnight.

What should I do when my flight is delayed?

  • Keep hold of any relevant travel documents (e.g. boarding cards, parking tickets, receipts).
  • Ask the airline for a delay confirmation, i.e. written confirmation of the cause of delay.
  • Help yourself to complimentary food and drinks at the airport
  • Submit your claim online using our compensation checker.

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When Am I Entitled to Flight Delay Compensation?

Air passengers travelling to or from the European Union enjoy a higher level of protection than almost anywhere else in the world. The EU Regulation Nr. 261/2004 – also known as the “Air Passenger Rights Regulation” – provides a set of conditions under which air passengers are entitled to compensation. 

In the case of flight delays, the most important conditions are that you arrive at your final destination with a delay of at least 3 hours and that the airline is at fault.

Definition of “arrival time” 
The moment at which the aircraft reaches its destination airport and opens at least one door for disembarkation.

Do you meet these conditions and qualify for flight delay compensation? Then take a look at how much money you are entitled to:

  • All short-haul flight delays – 1,500 km or less250 EUR per person
  • Internal EU flight delay (medium and long-haul) – over 1,500 km400 EUR per person
  • Non-internal EU flight delay (medium and long-haul) – between 1,500 – 3,500 km400 EUR per person
  • Non-internal EU flight delay (long-haul) – over 3,500 km: 600 EUR per person

Compensation for flight delay: You are entitled to

Short distance up to 1500 kmMedium distance up to 3500 kmLong distance from 3500 km
e.g. London – Edinburghe.g. London – Athense.g. London – Tokyo
If your journey contains multiple flights, the distance is calculated from the first departure airport to the final destination airport.

In case your flight was delayed by less than three hours, the Air Passenger Rights Regulation still offers you some protection:

Delayed departure of 2 or more hours (short-haul)The airline must provide free drinks and snacks
Delayed departure of 3 or more hours (medium-haul)Passengers have the right to care, including two free phone calls, fax messages, or e-mails
Delayed arrival or 3 or more hours€250 – 600 per person
Delayed departure of 4 or more hours (long-haul)Passengers are entitled to drinks and snacks
Delayed departure of 5 or more hours (all distances)Passengers can opt to cancel their flight. The airline must refund ticket costs in full
Overnight delay (next-day departure)Passengers are entitled to one night’s hotel accommodation, including transport to and from the airport

How Much Compensation Am I Entitled To?

As long as your flight was delayed by three hours or more, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. The following table explains exactly how much flight delay compensation you could be entitled to.

Less than 3 hours3 to 4 hours4 or more hoursDistance
No compensation€250€250All flights: 1,500 km or less
No compensation€400€400Flights within the EU: over 3,500 km
No compensation€400€400Non-internal EU flights: 1,500 – 3,500 km
No compensation€300€600Non-internal EU flights: over 3,500 km

Don’t miss a penny: make sure you double-check your entitlement by entering your flight details into our free flight compensation checker.

How Long Are Compensation Claims Valid?

If your flight departed from or landed in the UK, your claim is valid for 6 years. Even if your flight took place more than 6 years ago, you may still be entitled to a claim. The 6-year period begins from the end of the year in which the incident occurred, e.g. if you had a cancelled flight on 01.01.2013, you can still claim compensation until the end of 2019. 

Every EU country has its own rules regarding the validity period. The good news is that most countries offer a generous time period in which to submit your claim. 
Not sure if your claim is still valid? Our Flightright compensation calculator will let you know for free.

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What Are “Extraordinary Circumstances”?

For those of you who have ever tried to raise a complaint directly with an airline, you will probably be familiar with the term “extraordinary circumstances”. That is because airlines frequently refer to extraordinary circumstances as an excuse not to pay compensation. 

Extraordinary circumstances are, however, more than a get-out-of-jail-free card. Sometimes events happen that really are outside the airline’s control. Bad weather conditions, air traffic control, crew sickness, strikes outside of the airline (e.g. public transport strikes), lightning strikes and bird strikes are all examples of events that are considered extraordinary under UK law. This means that if your flight was delayed for any of these reasons, the airline is not legally obliged to pay compensation because there is nothing they could have done to have avoided the flight delay.

If the airline states that the disruption is caused by an extraordinary circumstance, this does not automatically exempt the airline from paying compensation. According to the ECJ ruling of 11 June 2020 (Case C-74/19), airlines must prove that they took all possible measures to re-route affected passengers at the earliest opportunity. The airline must demonstrate that it was not possible to rebook individual passengers onto a faster connection. In doing so, airlines must prove that they examined the possibility of rebooking passengers not only onto their own flights, but also the flights of other airlines. This includes both direct and indirect connections. If an alternative means of transportation, such as bus, train or taxi, could get a passenger to their destination faster, this must also be taken into account.

Have you experienced a flight delay?

OK, the weather was pretty bad, but you still believe that long delay to your flight could have been avoided? Well, you could be right. Even in cases of extraordinary circumstances, airlines have to demonstrate that they took all reasonable measures to avoid long delays and cancellations. Know your flight delay rights and don’t accept excuses! Flightright will help you to get the compensation you deserve.


How Can I Ensure That My Future Flights Are Secure?

Once bitten, twice shy. The long delay that ruined your trip is still haunting you to this day. Next time, let Flightright handle it. We can lift the weight off your shoulders by taking care of any problems that arise on your next flight.

Simply enter your upcoming trip into our compensation calculator and we will monitor the flight for you. If you are entitled to compensation, we will reach out to you and let you know what steps to take to enforce your claim.

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Checklist: Your rights in case of flight delay

  • You might be entitled to compensation from €250 to €600 if you arrive at your destination 3 or more than 3 hours later than planned.
  • From 2 hours on waiting at the airport you are also entitled to refreshments and snacks


  • You have checked in for your flight on time (generally no less than 45 minutes before departure).
  • You encountered these problems on a flight operated no more than 6 years ago.
  • The airline is responsible for the delay (e.g. technical fault or sick crew).
  • The flight took off in the EU (from any airline) or landed in the EU (provided that the airline is headquartered in the EU).
  • You can claim compensation even if you have travelled with a tour package or had a business trip

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Current Flight Delays

Just found out your flight is delayed? Don’t tell us, we read your mind! Find your delayed flight in our list of recent delays and press the green button to check whether or not you have a valid compensation claim. If it looks like the airline owes you money, save yourself the paper warfare and let Flightright do the hard work for you.

All that’s left for you to do is figure out the best way to spend those extra hours at the airport… Cuppa tea, anyone?


Have you experienced a flight delay?

With more than 10 years of experience, Flightright helps you enforce your right to compensation.

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