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How you can claim flight compensation for up to 6 years

Eleanor Newis
Jan 24, 2019

Here’s how you can claim compensation even six years later.

Millions of air passengers who suffer the stress of having their flights delayed are failing to claim their compensation — even though it is an easy process.

This is because many don’t know their rights, and get put off by bureaucracy and the expectation that their claim will simply be dismissed.

Under tough European legislation (regulation EU261) airlines are obliged to pay passengers compensation of up to €600 (£530) each following any prolonged delay or when a flight is cancelled at short notice.

It is important that customers demand payment and don’t give up on their cases, even if airlines reject the claim.

Flight disruption has got in the way of the travel plans of millions across Europe over the last 12 month, as more than 230,000 flights have been delayed or cancelled due to shortages of pilots, industrial action or weather conditions.

Figures from the two independent UK passenger dispute resolution services and the industry body the Civil Aviation Authority indicate that many passengers are being turned away even though they have justified claims.

Know your rights

The EU261 compensation rules apply only to passengers who faced a delay on a flight that departed from a European country or was taken by a European airline.

If the waiting time was two hours or less, there isn’t cash compensation, however the airline should provide meals and drinks, as well as free access to emails and phone usage.

In the case of longer delays, the airline should also provide accommodation.

Compensation won’t be paid for cancellation if it is due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’. This could be things like dangerous weather conditions. But if the fault lies with the airlines — e.g. a technical problem with the plane — then the payment will depend on the length of delay and how far the flight was travelling.

How to make a claim

Claiming compensation should be pain-free but often airlines make it more difficult than it should be. Even when a claim is accepted, payments can be heavily delayed, and many customers have to wait for long periods of time before they see their cash.

It’s worth remembering that you can still make a compensation claim six years after the event takes place. It’s always best to act quickly, but customers who might have been fobbed off in the past should keep this in mind.

First, you should apply via the airline’s website. Some request additional paperwork by post, but the details will be on the website.

If your claim is turned down, you should then consider a dispute resolution service. You will need a ‘deadlock’ letter from the airline confirming that they will not act on the complaint. You can find details of the dispute resolution schemes available on the Civil Aviation Authority’s website.

You should always make sure that when you travel, you have adequate insurance cover to include flight problems, as this will make sure you are kept from too much stress and lose less cash. Check the details of your insurance policy, and use a comparison site like A Spokesman Said to shop around for the best and most comprehensive deal.


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