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Your Guide to Passenger Rights in Case of Flight Delays and Cancellations in the UK

Travelling by air has become an essential part of our lives, but flight delays and cancellations can sometimes disrupt our plans and cause frustration. Fortunately, both UK and EU laws provide passengers with rights and protections when such situations occur. In this blog post, we'll walk you through the step-by-step process of what to do in case of flight delays and cancellations, discuss potential breaches of consumer rights, and outline the protections in place.

Understanding Your Rights

When a flight is delayed or cancelled, your rights as a passenger are outlined in the European Union Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, commonly referred to as EC 261. This regulation protects air passengers' rights in the event of disruptions, including flight delays, cancellations, denied boarding, and missed connections.

The full text of EC 261 can be accessed here.

NB: Please note that any changes to the case law or relevant guidelines that may be published by the European Commission after the 31st December 2020 will not affect UK law.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, the first step is to assess the situation. Different rules apply based on the length of the delay, the distance of the flight, and the reason for the disruption. The key factors to consider are:

Length of Delay: For delays exceeding a certain threshold (usually 2 to 4 hours, depending on the flight distance), you may be entitled to compensation.

Reason for Disruption: The cause of the delay or cancellation matters. Extraordinary circumstances, such as extreme weather or air traffic control strikes, might exempt the airline from providing compensation.

Submitting a Complaint

If you believe your rights have been violated, you can submit a complaint to the airline. Provide them with all relevant information, including booking details, flight number, and a clear explanation of the situation. Airlines usually have complaint forms available on their websites.

Please make sure that you provide relevant breaches that have occurred. The potential breaches might occur if:

  • The airline fails to provide timely and accurate information about the delay or cancellation.

  • Passengers are not offered the necessary care (meals, refreshments) during extended delays.

  • Compensation is wrongfully denied without valid reasons.

  • Airlines do not offer suitable rerouting options.

If the airline's response is unsatisfactory, you can escalate the matter by contacting the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). They can assist you in resolving the dispute and ensuring that your rights are upheld.

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Photo credit: Marco López on Unsplash


If your flight has been delayed or cancelled recently and you need assistance with the relevant paperwork, please contact us here.


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