What your airline must provide during a delay | CAA

If your flight is delayed, your airline must look after you by providing food, drink and accommodation. See how to claim these rights. Official CAA advice.

Delays and cancellations can be frustrating. But they shouldn’t be uncomfortable – under EU law, your airline must provide care and assistance.

Does EU law apply to your flight?

The information on this page only applies to flights covered by EU law. These must be either:

  • departing from an EU airport and operated by any airline, or
  • arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline

(Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.)

What is care and assistance?

If the law covers your flight, your airline must look after you. This means they must provide:

  • A reasonable amount of food and drink (often provided in the form of vouchers)
  • A means for you to communicate (often by refunding the cost of your calls)
  • Accommodation, if you’re delayed overnight (usually in a nearby hotel)
  • Transport to and from the accommodation (or your home, if you are able to return there)

The airline must provide you with these items until it is able to fly you to your destination, no matter how long the delay lasts or what has caused it.

When can you ask for care and assistance?

You are entitled to care and assistance once your flight has been delayed for several hours. The time varies depending on the length of the flight:

  • For short-haul flights of less than 1,500km (for instance, Edinburgh to Dublin), you should receive help after two hours.
  • For medium-haul flights of 1,500km – 3,500km (for instance, Manchester to Marrakesh), you should receive help after three hours.
  • For long haul flights of more than 3,500km (for instance, London to New York), you should receive help after four hours.

Your airline should provide extra help to people who need it, such as passengers with a disability or unaccompanied children.

How is care and assistance usually provided?


If your flight is delayed, many airlines will provide food and drink or vouchers for you to use. If you require accommodation, they may book a hotel and arrange transportation there.

What should you do if your airline is being unhelpful?

You are legally entitled to reasonable care and assistance, so if your airline doesn’t offer help then be ready to ask. You may need to be persistent during severe disruption, as airline staff can be stretched.

If your airline refuses to help, you can make your own arrangements and claim the costs back later. However, you should always try and talk to someone from your airline before doing this.

If you end up paying for things yourself, keep every receipt and do not spend more than is reasonable. Airlines are unlikely to refund you for things like luxury hotels or alcohol. Some will provide guidance on reasonable costs.

Exercise your rights