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Flight Delay Compensation

Up to £420/person, back to 2005
plane delays

If you're delayed by more than three hours or your flight's cancelled, under EU rule 261/2004 you are often entitled to between £90 and £420 in compensation - and it's possible to claim this for free.

This is a step-by-step guide to claiming, including our new, free online tool to help draft and manage your complaint (plus free template letters if you want to do it yourself), how to stop the airlines squirming out of paying and the latest on the court cases surrounding claims.

Flight delay compensation is big money

The doors for mass compensation for long flight delays were flung open in October 2012 following a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice. It clarified that passengers were entitled to compensation for long delays (as long as they met the set criteria) following a challenge by some airlines.

Since then, passengers who've been delayed have been fighting to get that compensation and MoneySavingExpert has helped lead the charge. Over 415,000 people have downloaded our free flight delay reclaiming letters - and we've now launched a free online reclaim tool to make the process even easier.

Not everyone has won compensation. Some airlines tried to block people from claiming for flights that were over two years old, and for unforeseeable technical faults (court rulings at the end of 2014 seemed set to end this, though a European court ruling expected in September could change things again - see Court cases info for the latest).

Yet we are also swamped with some huge successes - here are a few to inspire you:

Your helpful tips on flight delays helped me successfully claim £2,565 from Thomas Cook for a flight over four years ago for a group of nine people. - Jordan, July 2015

Turned down twice by Jet2 - today received the sterling equivalent of €400 per person. Thanks for the templates. - Raymond, July 2015

I sent an email through Resolver [our free online tool] on Wednesday evening to Air Malta asking for compensation for a flight delay in 2013. I was astounded to receive an email back from the airline on Thursday morning offering me 400 euros compensation.- Liz, April 2015

Airline-by-airline chances of success

If you've yet to claim, click on our poll results below for an idea of how likely it is your airline will pay up based on what other MoneySavers have found.

If you've already tried to claim compensation, we'd love to know which airlines are paying up, and which are playing hard ball. Please tell us how it went below.

Have you tried to claim compensation for flight delays?This week's MoneySaving poll

Aegean Airlines

Clear All
Aeroflot

Clear All
Aer Lingus

Clear All
Air Asia

Clear All
Air Berlin

Clear All
Air Canada

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Air China

Clear All
Air France

Clear All
Air India

Clear All
Air New Zealand

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Alitalia

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American Airlines

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ANA

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BMI Regional

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British Airways

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Brussels Airlines

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Cathay Pacific

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Continental

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Croatia Airlines

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Cyprus Airways

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Delta

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Eastern Airways

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Easyjet

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El Al

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Emirates

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Etihad

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Finnair

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Flybe

Clear All
Germanwings

Clear All
Iberia

Clear All
Icelandair

Clear All
Jet Airways

Clear All
Jet2.com

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Kenya Airways

Clear All
KLM

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Korea Air

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Loganair

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LOT Polish Airlines

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Lufthansa

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Malaysia Airlines

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Monarch

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Norwegian

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Pegasus

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Qantas

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Qatar Airlines

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Ryanair

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SAS

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Singapore Airlines

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South African Airways

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Swiss

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TAP Portugal

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Thai Airways

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Thomas Cook

Clear All
Thomson

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Turkish Airlines

Clear All
United

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US Airways

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Virgin Atlantic

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Wizz Air

Clear All
Other

Clear All

Could claiming compensation push air fares up? Martin's view

Before putting in a compensation claim, consider that while you have a legal right to do so. An influx of claims could mean airlines have to shell out big bucks, and flight prices may be hiked to make up for any losses.

The law behind this is clear cut, the ethics far less so. My usual focus for these type of issues is on reclaiming – asking for money back that was wrongly taken from you. This, however, is compensation, and like many I worry about a growing compensation culture.

This EU ruling has certainly swung the pendulum against airlines. As the cost of the flight is irrelevant to the payout there will be some who paid £20 for a cheap flight, were delayed a few hours that didn't really bother them, yet are entitled to a disproportionate £280 compensation for it.

If everyone did it, this could cripple budget airlines' pricing models, possibly hasten the financial troubles of airlines already struggling in a tough economy and put prices up. Balancing this on the see-saw of right and wrong isn't easy.

If I were rejigging the rules to make it fairer for both travellers and the industry (to keep flight prices down), I'd suggest the compensation paid should be whichever is cheaper - your flight price or the fixed compensation amount set out in law. For example, if you were on a £50 flight and entitled to £280 compensation, you'd get £50. But if your flight cost £300, you'd be entitled to the full £280.

Yet equally, there are many for whom this is valuable financial justice for substandard service on an expensive product.

If you were delayed three hours and a minute and had a great time in the airport bar, I'd say don't go for it. Yet for those who paid £1,000s for flights and spent a dozen hours trapped with upset young children, sleeping on chairs in overheated airports or on planes waiting to take off - I'd say go for it.

Therefore each individual must make their own ethical choice of whether to take up the cudgels and go for the compensation. While the impact on the airline is no reason not to do it, for me it is a reason to first examine whether the compensation you could be due would be truly fair or excessive.

Martin Lewis' tips on claiming for flight delays

Watch Martin's flight delay claiming tips video below, which was filmed in June 2014 in conjunction with The Telegraph.

Flight delay compensation - the rules

It's only for EU-regulated flights

European Union flight

An EU flight is where the flight departed from an EU airport, regardless of the airline OR where an EU airline landed at an EU airport. Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

So a delayed Manchester to Miami flight qualifies, regardless of the airline. Yet for Miami to Manchester, you are entitled to compensation flying Virgin or KLM, but not on Air India.

Quick questions

What if my flight was a codeshare?

What if I was on a package holiday?

What if I wasn't on an EU flight?

You can claim back to 2005, but it's harder for flights before 2009

You can apply for compensation for any past delays, stretching back as far as February 2005.

Yet in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, due to the statute of limitations, if you need to take the airline to court to get the cash (not too common, don't be unduly worried) then you can only go back six years. In Scotland, it's five years. So older claims can be tricky.

How do I check how long my flight has been delayed for?

Don't remember how long your flight was delayed for? Check using the clever FlightStats site. You need to register to use it (it's free). However, as you go further back in time, the site won't show the status of all flights. It also won't tell you what caused a delay.

FlightStats' terms and conditions say it can't be used in any passenger rights claims actions. So use it to find out for your own knowledge how late your flight was to make sure you're barking up the right tree, rather than using it specifically for any claim.

Quick questions

My airline says I can only claim back two years. I've heard there's been a court case on this?

What do I do for 2005-2009 cases (2005-2010 in Scotland)?

How far back can I go for non-UK claims?

When did these rules come into force?

Have the rules been tested in court?

Do I need a boarding pass to claim?

Can I claim if the airline I flew with has gone bust?

Can I claim if the airline I flew has been bought out?

It must be the airline's fault to claim

Map of European travel destinations

You are only entitled to the compensation if the delay was something within the airline's control. Staffing problems and underbooking all count. Yet political unrest in a country or bad weather make claiming a no-go.

Guidelines created by European regulators in July 2013 outline scenarios where they believe passengers can claim compensation, although case law created since then may now invalidate some of the scenarios, so it's best just to use it to give you an idea. See the full list on the European Commission's website.

Quick questions

What scenarios are NOT the airline's fault, meaning no compensation?

What scenarios are the airline's fault, meaning I could get compensation?

How do I know if it's the airline's fault?

Does the delay have to be the airline's fault to claim via my travel insurance?


So can I claim if...

...there was a technical fault with the plane? I've heard there's been a court case on this?

...my flight was cancelled due to underbooking, and I flew later?

...the pilot or crew were late?

...the plane I was due to fly on was late arriving from its previous destination?

...my flight was diverted to a different airport?

... I missed a connecting flight?

Delays must be 3 hours+ to claim

Compensation for delays is only due on flights arriving over three hours or more late. How long the delay is determines how much you could be entitled to.

Time is money, claim your plane delay compensation

Crucially, this is a straight rule. It's about when you arrive, not when you leave. So if you're on a flight that takes off 4 hours late but lands 2 hours 55 minutes late, you're not over the 3-hour delay needed to be eligible for compensation.

This is also about compensation for a delay, not a refund of the flight ticket cost, so the amount you are due is fixed dependent on the delay length and distance travelled. You can use the Web Flyer site to check the distance of your flight.

Compensation is also per person, so for a family of four, quadruple it (although where a passenger travels free of charge – a child, for example – you cannot claim). BUT compensation is based in euros, meaning the amount you'll get in sterling will fluctuate, depending on the exchange rate at that time.

See the table below for how much you could get.

My flight's been delayed. How much will I get?

Arrival delay Distance Costs Compensation (i) Refund of fare if you didn't travel (ii)
Under two hours Any distance No No No
2 hours - 2h 59mins Any distance Maybe (iii) No No
3 hours+ All flights under 1,500km eg, London to Paris Yes €250 (£180) Yes, if delayed over five hours
All flights between 1,500km – 3,500km eg, Manchester to Malaga Yes €400 (£280)
Flights within the EU only, 1,500+ km Yes €400 (£280)
3-4 hours Flights between an EU and non-EU airport, 3,500km+ eg, London to New York No €300 (£210)
4 hours+ Flights between an EU and non-EU airport, 3,500km+ eg, London to New York Yes €600 (£420)
(i) You're only entitled to compensation if you meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the guide. (ii) You're entitled to a refund of your fare, regardless of what caused the delay. (iii) Depending on the length of the flight, this rule kicks in on delays of more than two-four hours. Sterling figures based on the mid-August 2015 exchange rate of €1.418 to £1. Rounded to the nearest £10.

Here's some more detailed information on your rights as outlined in the table.

Quick questions

When can I claim for costs, and what can I claim?

Am I entitled to compensation?

Am I entitled to a refund of my fare?

What evidence do I need to submit?

If the airline says no, it isn't the end

Just because your case has been rejected or put on hold by the airline, it doesn't mean the airline is correct. If you believe you've been fobbed off when you think you have a legitimate claim, take your case to the relevant regulator to look into. Again this is something you can do yourself - you don't need a claims handler to do this.

Here what matters is where you flew from and to and where the airline's registered, as the table below shows.

It's worth noting that the regulator's listed below are not ombudsman schemes, so they cannot decide cases or impose requirements. They will advise you whether they think you have a valid complaint and, if so, take it up with the airline.

Read more about European ombudsman schemes

Who to go to if the airline turns you down
Flight departure country Flight arrival country Airline based in Who to complain to if your airline turns you down
UK Anywhere UK, EU, rest of the world Civil Aviation Authority or Consumer Council for Northern Ireland if you flew from there.
EU, not UK Anywhere UK Regulator in departure country
EU, not UK First try the European Consumer Centre, if unsuccessful try the regulator in departure country
Outside EU Regulator in departure country
Non-EU UK UK Civil Aviation Authority or Consumer Council for Northern Ireland if you flew into there.
EU, not UK Civil Aviation Authority or the European Consumer Centre (it shouldn't make a difference which one you use or Consumer Council for Northern Ireland if you flew into there.
Outside EU Compensation not applicable.
EU, not UK UK Regulator in arrival country
EU, not UK Regulator in arrival country
Outside EU Compensation not applicable.
Outside EU
Anywhere Compensation not applicable.

If this still doesn't work, you can go to court. See How to take your case to court for more on this.

Quick question

Do I have to accept money in vouchers?

Don't meet these conditions? You may still be able to claim

There are a number of circumstances where you may not meet the conditions of EU regulation 261/2004 as outlined in the points above, but it may still be worth trying to claim for some compensation. For example...

Quick questions

You weren't on an EU flight

You're unsure whether you meet the conditions

You don't fulfil the conditions, but you experienced poor service

Ready to claim? Now skip to the How to claim section.

Flight cancellation compensation - the rules

Below are the rules if your flight has been cancelled. If your flight has been delayed, please see the rules detailed directly above.

It's only for EU-regulated flights

An EU flight is where the flight departed from an EU airport, regardless of the airline OR where an EU airline landed at an EU airport. Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

So a cancelled Manchester to Miami flight qualifies, regardless of the airline. Yet for Miami to Manchester, you are entitled to compensation flying Virgin or KLM, but not on Air India.

Quick questions

What if my flight was a codeshare?

What if I was on a package holiday?

What if I wasn't on an EU flight?

The cut-off is 2005, but it's harder for flights before 2009

You can apply for compensation for any past cancellations, stretching back as far as February 2005.

Yet in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, due to the statute of limitations, if you need to take the airline to court to get the cash (not too common, don't be unduly worried) then you can only go back six years. In Scotland, it's five years. So older claims can be tricky.

Quick question

My airline says I can only claim back two years. I've heard there's been a court case on this?

Do I need a boarding pass to claim?

Can I claim if the airline I flew with has gone bust?

Can I claim if the airline I flew has been bought out?

You could be entitled to a refund or a new flight, no matter the reason for cancellation

When a flight is cancelled, however long before it was due to take off, you have a right to...

  • EITHER a refund for the flight that was cancelled.
  • OR an alternative flight (airlines call this re-routing) to your destination.

This applies:

  • As long as it happened after 17 February 2005.
  • Regardless of how long before the flight you were told of the cancellation.
  • Regardless of what it was that caused the cancellation.
  • And if the flight you were on departed from an EU airport, regardless of the airline, OR you were on an EU airline and landed at an EU airport. If you were on another flight anywhere else in the world, you may still be able to get your money back and compensation, but you're at the mercy of other sets of rules.
Quick questions

What if you're stuck at the airport?

What if you missed a connecting flight because of a cancellation?

What if I paid using air miles?

It must be the airline's fault for compensation

You CAN claim additional compensation of between €125 (£80) and €600 (£420), depending on the arrival time of a rescheduled flight you're put on.

Even if you go for a refund of your original ticket, rather than be re-routed, meaning you don't travel, you can claim compensation based on the timings of the alternative flight offered.

Quick questions

In what circumstances could you claim compensation?

When can't you claim compensation?

What evidence do I need to submit?

What about technical faults with the plane? I've heard there's been a court case on this?

How much compensation you'll get depends on the flight delay and distance

This is compensation for a delay, not a return of the flight ticket cost, so the amount you are due is fixed dependent on the delay length and distance travelled. You can use the Web Flyer website to check the distance of your flight.

Compensation is also per person, so for a family of four, quadruple it (although where a passenger travels free of charge – a child, for example – you cannot claim). BUT compensation is based in euros, meaning the amount you'll get in sterling will fluctuate, depending on the exchange rate at that time.

As you can see from the tables below, if you depart earlier than your original flight you'll probably arrive earlier so you won't be due compensation. But where you've departed earlier than the original flight and arrived later, because you've been put on a different route that is longer, or been given a connecting flight that delays you getting to your destination, for example, compensation may be due.

Flight cancelled 7-14 days before departure
Flight length 0 - 1,500km, eg, London to Paris 1,500 - 3,500km, eg, London to Istanbul 3,500km+, eg, London to New York
Delay (i) Leaves 2hrs+ before, lands up to 2hrs after 4hrs+ late. OR leaves 2hrs+ before, lands 2hrs+ after Leaves 2hrs+ before, lands up to 3hrs after 4hrs+ late. OR leaves 2hrs+ before, lands 3-4hrs after Leaves 2hrs+ before, lands up to 4hrs after 4hrs+ late
Compensation €125
(£90)
€250
(£180)
€200
(£140)
€400
(£280)
€300
(£210)
€600
(£420)
(i) Based on the timings of alternative flight offered. Sterling figures based on the mid-August 2015 exchange rate of €1.418 to £1. Rounded to the nearest £10.
Flight cancelled less than 7 days before departure
Flight length 0 - 1,500km, eg, London to Paris 1,500 - 3,500km, eg, London to Istanbul 3,500km+, eg, London to New York
Delay (i) Leaves 1hr+ before, lands up to 2hrs after 2hrs+ late Leaves 1hr+ before, lands up to 3hrs after 3hrs+ late Leaves 1hr+ before, lands up to 4hrs after 4hrs+ late
Compensation €125
(£90)
€250
(£180)
€200
(£140)
€400
(£280)
€300
(£210)
€600
(£420)
(i) Based on the timings of alternative flight offered. Sterling figures based on the mid-August 2015 exchange rate of €1.418 to £1. Rounded to the nearest £10.
Quick questions

Do I have to accept money in vouchers?

If you're bumped off a flight, you're entitled to compensation

Where the airline has overbooked and you voluntarily give up your seat, the amount of compensation is between you and the airline to agree on. It must also give you either a refund of the ticket price if you decide not to travel, or an alternative flight.

If you were forced off due to overbooking, then you fall in the same camp as a cancelled flight. This means you're also eligible for compensation as overbooking was the airline's fault. The table below shows how much you can get.

How much compensation are you due?
Flight length Arrival delay Compensation due
Up to 1,500km, (all flights) eg, London to Paris Up to 2 hours €125 (£90)
Up to 1,500km, (all flights) eg, London to Paris 2 hours+ €250 (£180)
1,500km – 3,500km (all flights), eg, Manchester – Malaga Up to 3 hours €200 (£140)
1,500+ km (flights within the EU only) 3 hours+ €400 (£280)
3,500km+ (flights between an EU and non-EU airport), eg, London to New York Up to 4 hours €300 (£210)
4+ hours €600 (£420)
(i) Based on the timings of alternative flight offered. Sterling figures based on the mid-August 2015 exchange rate of €1.418 to £1. Rounded to the nearest £10.

Still not had your question answered? Let us know in the forum discussion and we'll endeavour to add it to this section.

How to make a claim

Passengers should claim compensationIf you fit the criteria above you can make a claim using our new free online reclaim tool, which uses technology from complaints site Resolver. Alternatively, you can use our free template letters.

Who does the tool work best for?

The flight delay tool is best for anyone with an EU claim who, if rejected by their airline, would go on to complain to the Civil Aviation Authority. This covers…

  • Anyone whose flight departed from the UK.
  • Anyone who arrived in the UK on a UK/EU airline, from outside the EU.

However, while Resolver will escalate your complaint to the CAA, you are still likely to be asked by the CAA to fill in its own complaints form.

Who should consider using MSE's template letters rather than the tool?

Anyone with an EU claim, who if rejected by their airline would go on to complain to a (non-UK) EU regulator, may be better off using our free template letters. This covers…

  • Everyone not included in the categories above – you can still use Resolver to go to the airline, but a function it's added to take you to different regulators is still untested.
  • Those who flew on an EU airline from outside the EU to somewhere in the EU other than the UK (eg, KLM from New York to Amsterdam) – you can still use Resolver to go to the airline, but if your claim is rejected, Resolver currently escalates it to the wrong regulator.

Use our free tool to apply for EU flight compensation

Our free online tool helps drafts the letter for you, tells you when you've been sent a response, keeps track of your complaint and escalates it if necessary.

We do this using the complaints firm Resolver, which provides the technology, but the underlying template letters and logic behind it are ours. We're working with Resolver on many projects to combine our expertise on how to complain with its cutting-edge technology.

Enter your details to claim EC regulation 261/2004 compensation:

Resolver will remind you to escalate your claim within the airline and, if necessary, to the appropriate regulator after eight weeks (though if your complaint is escalated to the Civil Aviation Authority, you are still likely to be asked to fill in the CAA's own complaints form.)

  • How long should my claim take? There's no set timescale but typically 4-12 weeks - airlines are likely to be dealing with large numbers of claims at present though.
  • Can't find your airline? A few airlines aren't yet covered. If you can't find yours, Resolver says airlines can be added to the tool quickly if you alert it via the Resolver website or by emailing support@resolver.co.uk. If you don't want to wait, you'll need to complain directly.
  • Unhappy with Resolver? We don't have a lot of feedback on Resolver so far, but most we've seen on flight delay reclaims is positive. Read past feedback and leave your own on our Resolver forum thread. For more on how we work with Resolver see our full Resolver guide.

Or use our free template letters

If you decide not to use Resolver, you can submit your complaint directly, using our free template letters to help. (If you have used Resolver but want to escalate your complaint directly, jump to Step 2 below.)

Step 1: Complain to the airline

Different airlines have different procedures for claiming. Some will list email or postal addresses you need to send a written claims letter to, others will ask you to fill in an online claims form. So check what method your airline wants you to use before claiming.

Just remember in both scenarios to explain what went wrong and state what you want in terms of compensation and/or reimbursement. You can use these links to double-check if your flight was delayed for over three hours and how far the flight distance was. Both affect the compensation.

Remember to say you want compensation under:
EC regulation 261/2004

It's important you do this - quoting the law each time lets airlines know you're serious.

Use our free template letters to complain

If you need to send a written complaint, you can use our free template letters, which are based on information from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Even if you're asked to fill in an online complaints form you can use our template letter or segments of it to help your claim. Download using the following links: Delayed flights template letter and Cancelled flights template letter.

Remember, it's the operator of the flight, rather than the firm you booked with, which is responsible when things go wrong. So if you booked a ticket via Qantas, but were on a BA plane, then as BA operated the flight, it's responsible if anything goes wrong.

Here's a table linking to all airline complaints pages, which will explain whether you need to get in touch by writing, or by using online complaints forms.

If your airline's not listed above, go to its website or call to find out the best way to make a claim.

If you're successful, hurrah! As compensation for flight delays is set at specific levels depending on the flight delay and length, there's really only two outcomes here - you've received the correct amount and your claim is now over, or your claim has been rejected (in which case see Step 2 below).

Step 2: Claim rejected or put on hold by the airline? Take it to the regulator

Just because your case has been rejected or put on hold by the airline, it doesn't mean the airline is correct. If you believe you've been fobbed off when you think you have a legitimate claim, take your case to the relevant regulator to look into. Again this is something you can do yourself - you don't need a claims handler to do this.

If you don't get a response from the airline, you can also take your complaint to the relevant regulator. The UK regulator, the CAA, says you can refer relevant complaints to it if you don't receive a response from the airline within eight weeks, for example.

Here what matters is where you flew from and to and where the airline's registered, as the table below shows.

Who to complain to if the airline turns you down

Writing to the CAA? To complain to the CAA, most passengers need to fill out its online form. Read its complaints information first, to check you're eligible. At the end of July 2014 the CAA told us it was resolving cases in about 10 weeks.

Writing to the ECC or other regulator? You can use either our delayed flights template letter or you can use the EU's complaints form - it doesn't matter which. When writing, set out all the details of your complaint and include copies of all correspondence.

Quick questions

Can I write to the regulator/ECC in English?

Will I get a reply from the regulator/ECC in English?

What if the airline still says no or keeps your claim on hold?

Some airlines are playing hardball with claims and many are rejecting people even when the CAA or other regulators say you have a claim.

The problem is that regulators do not have the same powers as ombudsman schemes - they can't force airlines to pay out.

  • If the airline rejects your claim even after you've gone to the regulator... Unfortunately the next step is really to take it to the small claims court (though you could first try mediation – we're currently researching the pros and cons of mediation and will update this guide soon). Don't think going to court is about judges and wigs though - you can actually claim online. See below for help on making a court claim.

  • If the airline is keeping your claim on hold... The only way to force the airline to deal with your claim is to take it to court. If your claim's been delayed due to the ongoing legal battles (see Court cases for more details), you may be best waiting for them to be resolved.

    However if your claim is nearing the six-year time limit for taking court action, consider filing proceedings fast. The Ministry of Justice has confirmed court claims which go over the six-year limit while on hold will still be heard.

While the onus is on the airline to prove the cause of the delay, unfortunately, as there's no central database collating why flights are delayed, it's their word against yours. So try and recall whether you were told anything by the pilot or airport staff at the time of the delay to back up your claim. If you don't think the airline has cited the correct cause of delay, it may be worth challenging in court.

How to take your case to court

If you complained to the airline and lost and then complained to the relevant regulator or the European Consumer Centre and lost again - or the airline's put your case on hold - you can go to court. Unfortunately our Resolver tool can't help with this - though you will be able to download details of your case so you have it to hand.

You can take your complaint to a local county court in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, or a sheriff court in Scotland.To use the courts' small claims system, your claim needs to be under £10,000 in England and Wales, or under £3,000 in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

You can also ONLY take your case through the small claims system within six years from the delayed flight in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, you've got five years.

Subject to this, anyone can make a claim in the small claims courts, although the airline you claim against could challenge whether or not you can use the court you want to use - it's up to the court you apply to to decide.

  • Booked flights in the UK? You should be able to take your case through the courts in the relevant country you're based in, regardless of where the airline is based.
  • Got a UK address for the airline? The European Consumer Centre says if so, you can take an airline to court here, even if the head office is based elsewhere.
  • Flight departed or arrived in the UK? The ECJ ruled in a flight cancellations case in 2009 that you can take an airline to court for cancellation claims in either the country the plane was due to arrive in or depart from, regardless of where the airline's based.

If none of the above apply, the European Small Claims Procedure can be used for cross-border complaints for claims of under €2,000. There is a standard claim form which you can issue through the county court.

It's worth noting that if your claim has already been decided by a court, unfortunately you can only appeal the decision within 21 days of it being made.

For more information on going to court and what this entails, see our Small Claims and How to Complain guides. It may also be worth considering taking legal advice.

Made a claim? Let others know how it's gone in the forum on your airline's thread: British Airways, Easyjet, Flybe, Jet2, KLM/Air France, Lufthansa, Monarch, Ryanair, Thomas Cook, Thomson & Virgin Atlantic. If your airline's not listed, let us know on this guide's discussion thread.

Court challenges continue - get your claim in now

Some airlines have been fighting tooth and nail in court to try to reduce the number of passengers that can claim - and putting claims on hold while they went to court. There are two big issues, but in June 2014 the airlines lost both cases in the Court of Appeal.

The UK's highest court, the Supreme Court, then said in October 2014 it wouldn't let them appeal - and after a ruling in a test case at Liverpool County Court on 26 Feb 2015, airlines seemed likely to find it harder to wriggle out of paying compensation for technical faults.

However expert lawyers are now warning that a major European court judgement expected in September could change the rules again - as a result, they're urging those with claims about technical faults to submit them as soon as possible. Here's the latest:

1. The 'extraordinary circumstances' issue - court rules test case CAN'T be kept on hold.

Jet2 argued in court that any unforeseeable technical fault was an 'extraordinary circumstance' and therefore not its fault and it shouldn't have to pay out (this was the Huzar v Jet2 case). However it lost its case and in Oct 2014 the Supreme Court said it wouldn't allow an appeal, so the law was quite clear:

You CAN claim for technical problems that haven't been caused by "extraordinary circumstances". Normal technical problems such as component failure or general wear and tear should not be considered "extraordinary".

Most airlines accepted that - but according to solicitors' firm Bott & Co, which specialises in flight claims, Flybe, Jet2, Ryanair and Wizz Air kept putting technical fault claims on hold pending the outcome of a request to the European Court of Justice by the Netherlands (the van der Lans v KLM case) to clarify if a technical fault is an extraordinary circumstance.

This was put to the test in a case at Liverpool County Court where four passengers argued their claims should not have been put on hold pending the outcome of van der Lans v KLM. On 26 Feb 2015 the court ruled in their favour, meaning the airlines involved in these four claims – Jet2, Ryanair and Wizz Air – can't 'stay' them. Ryanair appealed this decision - the hearing is expected later this year.

In the meantime, the case at the heart of all of this (van der Lans v KLM) has now been heard, and a final judgement is due on 17 September. Bott & Co says this ruling could potentially change the whole legal position as it will override the Huzar judgement - it says you should consider submitting your complaint now while there's legal clarity.

Here's what you should do now:

  • I've not yet submitted a flight claim. You should submit a claim using our step-by-step help. Airlines technically don't have to follow the Liverpool ruling, but quote it as evidence to back up your claim, as well as the Huzar decision. It's important to get your complaint in now while the law is clear, as the van der Lans judgement could change the landscape.

  • My flight claim is on hold. You should ask the airline or court which stayed the case to reopen it based on the Liverpool ruling. The decision isn't legally binding so neither airlines or courts have to comply with it, but the judgment should be persuasive.

  • My claim has already been rejected. The Liverpool judgment surrounds the legality of airlines putting claims on hold pending the van der Lans ruling - it doesn't affect claims that have already been rejected. If your claim has been rejected by the airline, follow our step-by-step help for how to take your claim further.

2. The 'you can only go back two years' issue.

Thomson tried to overturn a ruling saying claimants can go back at least six years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (five in Scotland), arguing it should only be two under a different set of rules - the Montreal Convention (this was the Dawson v Thomson case). This was turned down in October 2014 making it clear that under UK law:

You CAN claim for flights going back at least six years (five in Scotland).

But despite this Ryanair has been arguing that under its terms and conditions, passengers only have two years to claim. This was tested at Manchester Country Court in August 2015 (Goel & Trivedi v Ryanair) where the judge ruled against Ryanair – see the Ryanair taken to court MSE news story for more.

Bott & Co says it is likely all other courts in England and Wales will follow this judgement. However, Ryanair says it will appeal the decision, so it's not the end of the road yet.

In the meantime you should continue to submit new complaints and ask for complaints that have already been rejected on these grounds to be reassessed. Just be aware that Ryanair and other airlines may put them on hold pending the appeal.

Airlines act after legal threat: Jet2 and Wizz Air passengers can ask for claims to be reassessed

In March 2015 the CAA published the findings of a six-month review into how 15 of the biggest airlines operating in the UK are handling flight delays. It found Jet2, Wizz Air and Aer Lingus were failing to do what they should and told them they must sign a legally binding document agreeing to comply with the law or face legal action.

In August 2015 the regulator said:

  • Both Jet2 and Wizz Air failed to prove they consistently pay compensation for disruption caused by ordinary technical faults. The CAA says both have now confirmed they'll pay compensation going forward.
  • Both Jet2 and Wizz Air were imposing two-year time limits for passengers to take compensation claims to court. The CAA says Jet2 has agreed not to do this, but Wizz Air has refused and has been referred to the Hungarian regulator.
  • Jet2 and Aer Lingus failed to provide evidence that they proactively provide passengers with information about their rights during disruption. The CAA says the two airlines have now confirmed they will do so.

See the Regulator applies pressure on airlines MSE news story for more.

What does it mean for my claim?

  • I've yet to submit a claim. New complaints can still be submitted as normal to the airline.

  • My claim's been rejected by the airline. If your claim's been rejected by Jet2 or Wizz Air because of a technical fault, or because it's about disruption that took place over two years ago, you should ask the airline to reassess it, although you may struggle if it now falls outside of the six year window for claiming.

  • My claim's been rejected by a court. If your claim's been rejected at county court level you have 21 days to appeal the decision - after this your time runs out.

If my claim is complex, should I consider using a claims firm/solicitor?

Certainly in the first instance you should be writing to the airline and then to the relevant regulator yourself. This is simple and free to do with our template letters - we don't think it's worth giving 30% of what you're due to a claims firm when you can do it yourself.

However we make a possible exception to this if things get tricky and court is the only option left - then it can be worth paying, especially if the thought of court action scares you. Even then though consider using a reputable solicitors' firm like Bott and Co, which has been pioneering in this field, rather than a claims management company.

Of course if you do, it means you will need to give away some of your payout. It's also worth remembering that claims firms usually only like the easy cases that you could win yourself easily without their help, so the fact that one is willing to take you on at this point is in itself a good sign.

How to choose a claims handler/solicitor