Your rights when a long-haul flight is cancelled

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.

Your airline must get you to your destination

If your cancelled long-haul flight is covered by EU law, your airline must let you choose between two options:

1. Receive a refund

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.

2. Choose an alternative flight

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.

Care and assistance

 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 – if it wasn’t the airline’s fault, don’t expect to receive anything.

Delays caused by things like extreme weather, airport or air traffic control employee strikes or other ‘extraordinary circumstances’ are not eligible for compensation.

Seven to 14 days’ notice:

If you received seven to 14 days’ notice of the cancellation, you can claim compensation based on the timings of the alternative flight:

  • If your new flight arrives more than four hours after your original flight, you can claim €600 – no matter what time it departs.
  • If your new flight departs more than two hours before your original flight, and arrives less than four hours after it, you can claim €300.

Less than seven days’ notice:

If you received less than seven days’ notice of the cancellation, you can claim compensation based on the timings of the alternative flight:

  • If your new flight arrives more than four hours after your original flight, you can claim €600 – no matter what time it departs.
  • If your new flight departs more than one hour before your original flight, and arrives less than four hours after it, you can claim €300.

You can only claim compensation if your cancelled flight matches one of the situations described above. All compensation figures are per person.

More about claiming

Learn more about how to claim compensation for a cancelled flight.