If your long-haul flight gets cancelled, you are entitled to an alternative flight or a refund. You may be able to claim compensation too
Under EU law an airline is not allowed to leave you high and dry if they cancel a long-haul flight that you are booked on.
Any flight that covers over 3,500km is long-haul. However, these rules only apply to certain flights to or from the EU.
If your cancelled long-haul flight is covered by EU law, your airline must let you choose between two options:
You can get your money back for all parts of the ticket you haven’t used. For instance, if you have booked a return flight and the outbound leg is cancelled, you can get the full cost of the return ticket back from your airline.
If you still want to travel, your airline must find you an alternative flight. It’s up to you whether to fly as soon as possible after the cancelled flight, or at a later date that suits you. Airlines often refer to this as being ‘rerouted’.
Although most airlines will book you onto another of their flights to the same destination, if an alternative airline is flying there significantly sooner then you may have the right to be booked onto that flight instead. You can discuss this with your airline.
If you choose an alternative flight you are also entitled to care and assistance. This usually means food, drink, access to communication (this could be by refunding the reasonable cost of phone calls) and accommodation (if necessary).
You may be able to claim compensation too
If you received less than 14 days’ notice of the cancellation, you may be able to claim compensation too. This depends on what caused the cancellation.
You are entitled to a cash payment, usually this will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. Some airlines may also offer you an alternative such as travel vouchers or free travel services. You are free to choose which suits you best and can insist on a cash payment if you wish.
Delays caused by things like extreme weather, airport or air traffic control employee strikes or other ‘extraordinary circumstances’ are not eligible for compensation.
If you received seven to 14 days’ notice of the cancellation, you can claim compensation based on the timings of the alternative flight:
If you received less than seven days’ notice of the cancellation, you can claim compensation based on the timings of the alternative flight:
You can only claim compensation if your cancelled flight matches one of the situations described above. All compensation figures are per person.
Learn more about how to claim compensation for a cancelled flight.