It’s topical this week, of course, because of the debacle of the British Airways computer failure, which resulted in many flights being cancelled or severely delayed.

Assuming your flight originates in an EU country, here are your rights when you suffer a delay that is the airline’s fault:

A Delay of Two or More Hours

The airline

  • Must provide you with food and drink
  • They must give you access to phone calls and email
  • If it’s over night, they must give you a hotel room, and a transfer from airport to hotel and back

These will normally be given to you in the form of vouchers, so ask an airline representative for them. If you do not receive these things, pay for them yourself and ask for receipts to make a claim later.

A Delay of Three or More Hours

As above, but you are now also entitled to compensation. There’s a sliding scale, based on the amount of the delay and the distance you are travelling. I ranges from €250 for a 3 hour delay with a flight distance of less than 1500 KMS to €600 if your delay is 4 hours or more and you are flying more than 3,500 KMS.

This may not happen automatically – you need to make a claim from the airline.

A Delay of Five or More Hours

All of the above and additionally you are entitled to a full refund on the original ticket. You are also entitled to a refund for onward flights missed with the same airline.

In this case, you should speak to someone from the airline and explain you won’t be taking the flight and they should arrange your refund.

If your flight is cancelled within 7 days of departure

In this case, as well as all of the above, you are entitled to a refund for both your flight and any onward flight, as well as a replacement flight to your destination.

Ask for a refund or replacement at the airport.

How to claim

Your claims need to be made to the airline. Ideally, try to get everything sorted at the airport, in person. If that’s not possible, phone the airline after the event or use the claim form on their website.

If you are not getting what you believe you are entitled to from the airline, you should the Civil Aviation Authority.