Airlines do their best to avoid disruption and delays. However, sometimes problems do occur. If a flight you are booked on is delayed or cancelled, there are things you can do to make the disruption more bearable. You should also take the time to understand your rights, to make sure your airline treats you fairly. This page explains what to do when your flight has been disrupted.
Under EU law, you have significant rights on many flights to, from or within the European Union. The information on this page is only relevant to flights covered by this law. To be covered, your flight must be either:
Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
See the full country list
If your flight has been delayed or cancelled, try to find out when your airline will be able to fly you to your destination.You can ask at the airport, check the airline’s website (often the quickest way) or call them.
If you have been delayed for more than five hours and no longer wish to travel then you are entitled to a refund.
If you are a transfer passenger you are also entitled to a flight back to your original departure point.
Once you decide to take a refund or to travel later than the first available flight, your airline has no obligation to provide you with food, drink or accommodation. If you are on a package holiday and you decide not to travel on your outbound flight, you may lose your holiday too.
If you still want to fly then your airline must get you to your destination. You might have to be patient while they rearrange flights and rebook passengers, but the law says they must get you there.
Sometimes airlines may advise you to make alternative travel arrangements, then claim back the cost later. If you do this, try to keep costs down as much as you can, keep receipts and record the name of the person giving this advice. Book with the same airline if at all possible.
Once your flight has been delayed for a certain amount of time, your airline must take care of you by providing food, drink, access to communications and accommodation (if you are delayed overnight).
Learn what your airline must provide during a delay for a:
If you can, it’s usually best to head home when your flight is severely delayed. Your airline should pay reasonable travel costs.
You may be entitled to compensation if your flight is severely delayed, so keep as much evidence of the delay as you can. Keep boarding cards and other documents too.
If you think you will need to claim expenses from your airline, get a full receipt (not just a credit card slip) for everything. If a member of airline staff told you to make your own arrangements, note who said this, when and where. Also ask them to put a note on your booking to this effect.
If you’re currently waiting for a delayed flight, learn more about your rights.
See all your rights, including compensation
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