Are you entitled to compensation?

If a flight you’re booked on is delayed or cancelled, you may be entitled to compensation

Under EU law, airlines are required to pay compensation to passengers when their flights are delayed or cancelled. However, you only have the right to compensation in some circumstances.

There are two key factors:

  • How severely you have been inconvenienced.
    For instance, if you have only been delayed slightly, you may not be entitled to compensation. 

    Learn about delay times and compensation levels 

  • The cause of the delay.
    If the delay was caused by an extraordinary circumstance you will not be entitled to compensation.

Extraordinary circumstances

The EU law on flight compensation uses the term ‘extraordinary circumstances’ to refer to situations where delays or cancellations have been caused by things that are not the responsibility of the airline. 

If extraordinary circumstances apply, you are not entitled to compensation.

What are extraordinary circumstances?

The Regulation does not define "extraordinary circumstances" and there have been a number of cases in the European and English courts regarding what the term covers.  The cases have centred on whether technical faults on an aircraft could be an extraordinary circumstance.  In 11 June 2014 the English Court of Appeal issued a judgment in the Jet2 v Huzar case which provided clarity in the UK that technical problems were not an extraordinary circumstance. 

In September 2015 the European Court looked at the same issue in the case of KLM v van der Lans.  The court found that technical problems were not extraordinary and neither was the early failure of an aircraft component.  The ruling noted two types of technical fault that may be extraordinary, a hidden manufacturing defect and damage to an aircraft caused by sabotage or terrorism.  The main categories of events that are likely to be an extraordinary circumstance include:

  • Acts of terrorism or sabotage
  • Political or civil unrest
  • Security risks
  • Strikes (unrelated to the airline such as airport staff, ground handlers or air traffic control)
  • Weather conditions incompatible with the safe operation of the flight
  • Hidden manufacturing defects (a manufacturer recall that grounds a fleet of aircraft) 

More detailed guidance on extraordinary circumstances can be found on the attached CAA List.

If you are not sure whether extraordinary circumstances apply to your flight, but have read about your other rights and think you might have a case, you can make a claim to your airline for compensation. The airline should explain to you the reason for the disruption. If they consider it was due to extraordinary circumstances they will need to clearly set out why. If they reject your claim then you can consider whether to pursue it further, see what options you have:

More about claiming

If you think you have a strong case for compensation, see how to lodge a claim with your airline. ·

Heathrow Cancellations due to fog and storms

Heathrow Airport required airlines to cancel a proportion of their flights based on forecast thick fog at the beginning of November 2015 and a storm on 17 November 2015.  The reduction in capacity was to ensure flights could continue to operate safely and airlines could give advance notice to their passengers.  The attached list of flights were cancelled based on the expected weather conditions and in our view would be considered to be an extraordinary circumstance and not subject to compensation.  The list does not include flights cancelled on the day.