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Airline is not paying compensation for a delayed flight, what can I do?

Fred Isaac

Fred Isaac
Oct 24, 2016

A Spokesman Said user Jon Brett had a problem that we can all relate to: he was struggling to get the compensation he was owed from Thomson for a delayed flight.

Jon, 51, from Milton Keynes, flew from Antalya to Birmingham Airport on June 25.

The flight arrived seven and a half hours late and Jon duly set about getting the compensation he was owed.

Jon told us: “Prior to departure from Antalya, the pilot explained that he and the crew had been called in to work on a day off due to difficulties providing an outbound flight from Birmingham.

"He explained that the delay had been made worse after passengers on the outbound flight had to be bussed to Manchester. It seems incredible that an airline like Thomson could not be better prepared for such a lengthy delay which appears to be the result of poor planning on behalf of the airline.”

But despite the delay being the airline’s fault, and Jon submitting a claim, Thomson failed to reply.

Getting nowhere, Jon contacted A Spokesman Said and we took up his case.

Thomson apologised for the delay in processing the payment and finally sent him a cheque for £678.

Jon told us: "Thomson said they would reply within 56 days. I heard nothing. Contacted them again by phone and email several times. Still no response.

“Contacted A Spokesman Said and they were immediately on the case, contacting Thomson on my behalf and keeping the pressure on.

“I finally received a letter and a cheque from Thomson this week. Thank you so much.”

We’re delighted we could help Jon out; but what should you do if you find yourself in a similar situation?

First things first, know your rights.


Your flight delay rights

Swot up on your rights so you’re prepared if you ever need to make a claim.

Under the Denied Boarding Regulation, you have the right to compensation for delays of three hours or more, but only if you meet certain criteria.

If the delay is caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’, those beyond the airline’s control – staff strikes, for example – you will get zilch.

A very important change in the law ruled that airlines can no longer use the ‘hidden manufacturing defect’ as a reason beyond their control.   

Everything you need to know about flight delays and your rights is in our guide.


The airline is not paying up, what can I do?

If you are having trouble with an airline, The Civil Aviation Authority might be able to help – but only for flights delayed in the UK.

The typical problem with airlines is that they claim ‘extraordinary circumstances’ caused the delayed and refuse to pay out.

To engage the CAA’s help, fill out their online form. You can speak to an operator on 020 7453 6888.

If you have a valid claim, the CAA will contact the airline on your behalf.

If your flight departed from another EU airport, you need to seek help from the National Enforcement Body (NEB) in the country where the airline has its base.

The NEB will then, usually months later, issue a written ruling on your case; whilst the rulings are not legally binding, the airline normally pays up at this point.

You can also seek out the help of a consumer champion like A Spokesman Said (just like Jon did).

We will fight your corner and raise your voice.


The airline has offered me vouchers as compensation, should I accept?

Entirely up to you.

Just remember: the airline must give you compensation in cash if you want it.


Is there another way to get my money?

Once an airline has rejected your claim officially, you’re free to take them to court.

There are plenty of services that can help you with the process. 

Money Claim Online, for example, covers England and Wales and costs between £25 and £60 depending on the value of your claim.

If you paid for your tickets using a credit card, it might also be worth contacting your card provider.

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act 2016, your card provider is jointly liable for any purchases.

For those of you who are paperwork averse, a solicitor specialising in flight delay compensation will be able to the legal work for you.

Try Bott & Co, which even has a free flight checker to see if you have a valid claim.

Remember, this can be a drawn out process; going to court usually takes around six months to get a final decision.


Can I claim on travel insurance?

There’s a good chance your insurance policy will offer compensation for a delay, but it will most likely be a pathetic amount, say £15.

Plus, your delay will probably have to be over ten hours to even qualify. Still, it’s worth checking your policy. 

We hope our guide was useful. If you have any questions we didn’t cover, leave them in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to answer them.


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