• When your flight is affected by disruption, your airline must take care of you and get you to your destination. Once the disruption has been resolved, you might also be able to claim costs or compensation. This page explains how to do so.

    Does the 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
    • 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.

    See the full country list

    Can you claim?

    If your flight is covered by EU law, there are two main situations in which you are legally entitled to payment from your airline:

    • Reimbursement for care and assistance. If you paid for food, drink or accommodation that your airline should have provided, you can claim reasonable costs back.
    • Compensation for the disruption. If the delay was severe and could have been avoided by the airline, the law sets out fixed levels of compensation you should receive.

    To determine whether you are eligible for either type of payment, you should review your rights carefully.

    Learn about your rights when flights are disrupted

    Check the circumstances

    In particular, the law is specific about compensation. If the disruption was caused by extraordinary circumstances, then you will not be entitled to compensation, as long as the airline took reasonable measures to avoid the disruption.

    Learn more about extraordinary circumstances

    To avoid wasting your time, make sure you understand your rights before you contact your airline.

    Contact your airline directly

    If you believe you have a case, you should contact your airline directly. 

    Many airlines will have a claims procedure for you to follow. Often, a standard claim form is available. If so, using it will ensure you provide all the information the airline needs to process your claim. 

    Be aware not all airlines will deal with your complaint if you use services such as Resolver or Claims Management Companies. Some airlines have a clause in their T&Cs stating that when lodging a complaint, passengers must submit their claims directly to the airline, allowing the airline to respond directly to them before engaging third parties to claim on their behalf. A recent Court of Appeal ruling, Bott & Co vs Ryanair, sets a precedent on how Ryanair will handle future claims, hence it is advisable you check the T&Cs of your carrier prior to making your claim. 

    You can usually find the best way to put in a claim by calling the airline or checking its website.

    If no standard procedure is available, it may be best to make initial contact by email, so you have a record of the communication. You can also send a letter – always keep a copy, if you decide to do this.

    Your airline will probably need detailed information to process your claim. 

    Find out how to write a good claim

    Waiting for the outcome

    It can take some time for the airline to process your claim. If the disruption was severe, the airline’s claims team might be busy. 
    However, in time you should receive a response. If the airline believes your claim is valid then they will probably include a cheque. If they decline your claim then they should explain why. If you are unhappy with the decision,  you have some options.