Your rights and how to claim compensation when your flight is delayed or cancelled, or if you’re denied boarding.

What you need to know about your flight rights

  1. You can claim between £220 and £520 in compensation if your flight arrives late by more than three hours – download our template to help you claim.
  2. You may be able to claim between £110 and £520 in compensation if your flight is cancelled with less than 14 days’ notice. 
  3. If the delay or cancellation was due to air traffic control strikes or extreme weather you can’t claim compensation but you should be offered a refund or a replacement flight.
  4. If you have been bumped from your flight because it was overbooked then you will be eligible to claim between £110 and £520. 
  5. Your airline needs to look after you while you wait for your flight – providing meals and drinks and possibly accommodation and transport

Claiming compensation for a delayed flight

You can claim between £220 and £520 in compensation if your flight arrives late by more than three hours. But you won’t be eligible for compensation if it wasn’t the airline’s fault – things like extreme weather or airport / airport or air traffic control strikes / security threats.

For delays within the control of the airline, the length of your flight will impact how much you can claim:

Length of flightCompensation1
Short-haul – up to 3 hours (eg Manchester to Amsterdam)£220
Medium-haul – 3 to 6 hours (eg Birmingham to Athens)£350
Long-haul – more than 6 hours (eg Gatwick to New York)£5202

1 Compensation figures are per person. 2 If your delay is under 4 hours this reduces to £260.

Free template letter

Download our template for claiming back compensation for delayed flights

Complete this form and we’ll send you our free template letter to help you with your delayed flight compensation claim. We’d also love you to sign up to the Consumer Voice newsletter, if you’re not already.

Claiming compensation if your flight is cancelled

If your flight is cancelled you may be able to claim compensation if you were given less than 14 days’ notice. 

Your airline must offer you a refund for all parts of your flight or the option to choose another flight, which your airline must find for you. You should be given the choice of flying as soon as possible after the cancelled flight or at a later date.

If you choose to take an alternate flight then you may be able to claim compensation if your new flight arrives later than your original flight was due to land. 

You won’t be eligible for compensation if it wasn’t the airline’s fault – for things like extreme weather or airport / airline or air traffic control strikes / security threats. These are known as extraordinary circumstances.

The level of compensation for cancellations within the control of the airline will vary depending on the length of your flight, the length of cancellation notice and the level of your delay.

Less than seven days notice
Length of flightLength of delayCompensation1
Short-haul: Up to 3 hours Arrives 2 or more hours late£220
Arrives less than 2 hours late£110
Medium-haul:3 to 6 hours Arrives 3 or more hours late£350
Arrives less than 3 hours late£175
Long-haul: More than 6 hours Arrives 4 or more hours late£520
Arrives less than 4 hours late£260

1 Compensation figures are per person

Seven to 14 days notice
Length of flightLength of delayCompensation1
Short-haul: Up to 3 hours Arrives 2 or more hours late£220
Medium-haul:3 to 6 hours Arrives 3 or more hours late£350
Long-haul: More than 6 hours Arrives 4 or more hours late£520
Arrives less than 4 hours late£260

1 Compensation figures are per person

Claiming compensation if you are denied boarding

If you have been bumped from your flight because your flight was overbooked then you will be eligible for compensation. You might have volunteered to be bumped, in which case you should have been offered compensation by the airline. 

If you were bumped without your consent then you will be eligible for compensation as long as you checked in for your flight on time. How much compensation you will be owed depends on the length of your flight and the length of the delays caused by an alternate flight:

Length of flightLength of delayCompensation1
Short-haul: Up to 3 hours Arrives 2 or more hours late£220
Arrives less than 2 hours late£110
Medium-haul:3 to 6 hours Arrives 3 or more hours late£350
Arrives less than 3 hours late£175
Long-haul: More than 6 hours Arrives 4 or more hours late£520
Arrives less than 4 hours late£260

1 Compensation figures are per person

There are circumstances where you might be bumped from your flight for good reason and won’t be eligible for compensation. These include denying boarding for health reasons, safety and security, or inadequate travel documents.

What you’re entitled to while you wait

The airline you’re flying with should look after you if your flight is significantly delayed, whatever the reason for the delay. 

A significant delay is waiting more than two hours for short-haul, more than three hours for medium haul and more than four hours for long haul. In these circumstances you will be entitled to things like:

  • Food and drink – many airlines will provide vouchers for you to buy food and drink.
  • Accommodation – you might be booked a hotel to stay in if your delay is overnight.
  • Transport – you could be refunded travel costs to and from home or to the hotel.
  • Phone calls – if necessary, you can be refunded the cost of necessary calls.

The airline regulator – the Civil Aviation Authority – says that if your airline is unable to arrange care and support for you then it is reasonable for you to arrange your own and claim costs back later. It’s important to keep receipts and be reasonable with your costs – an airline is unlikely to pay for luxury accommodation or alcoholic drinks.

How to claim compensation

You need to make your claim directly with the airline you were due to travel with. You typically need to have your flight details and booking reference to make a claim. Tell the airline what went wrong and what you want. Include copies of tickets and receipts if necessary.

Your airline should have a compensation claims form for you to complete. Download our free template to help you complete your claim form. Here are links to the compensation and expense claims forms for popular airlines flying from and to UK destinations:

How to complain if your claim is rejected

If your claim for compensation or expenses is rejected and you don’t agree with the reason given, you might be able to escalate your complaint if you’re getting nowhere with the airline. Your airline will need to be a member of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme. 

The airline should provide you with the relevant details of the ADR scheme it is a member of. The Civil Aviation Authority also provides information about which ADR schemes airlines are signed up to.

The Civil Aviation Authority also has a Passenger Advice and Complaints Team that may be able to help. It can advise on whether it thinks you have a valid complaint and what to do next but it doesn’t have the power to make the airline pay you what you’re owed.

You can take your airline to court if the airline has rejected your claim and you’ve not been able to get help elsewhere. This should be the last resort after escalating your complaint to the highest level you can with the airline and getting advice from the Civil Aviation Authority’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team to be sure you have a reasonable claim to make.

Taking an airline to court to claim money you are owed is known as taking them to a ‘small claims court’. It will cost you time and money, and can be stressful. You can find more advice on how it works and fees in our small claims guide.