Flight Delays & Cancellations
Information on what to do when your flight gets cancelled or is delayed.
Delays and Cancellations
All sounds like a typical scenario at any airport these days. But a simple delay or even worse, cancellation, can totally upset any travel plans and leave you in the hands of check-in staff or watching departure screens in the vague hope that useful information will be forthcoming.
What can you do?
Don’t panic and focus.
Are you aware of Rule 240? This rule (applicable to US carriers) was created when the airline industry was still regulated by the government, it mandated that in the case of a major flight delay or cancellation, airlines must put passengers on the next available flight. Although Rule 240 is no longer a federal requirement, many large carriers still include the provision in their contracts of carriage. A few even promise upgrades or rebooking onto another airline's flight.
However, Rule 240 does not include flight delays or cancellations that result from inclement weather or other factors that are outside of an airline's control. But be aware that some of the low cost carriers do not abide by the 240 rule eg Jetblue, Southwest – they do not have agreements with other airlines. So advice here is to get onto their reservation center direct whilst waiting to talk to the ground staff – you may get the last seat on their next flight.
What happens when I am not based in the US?
Depending on the circumstances, European law (EC regulation 261/2004 ) requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers during delays. This includes catering, communications and overnight accommodation if necessary. If a delay extends beyond five hours, passengers can request a refund if they choose not to travel. If a flight is cancelled alternative flight options should be offered. Where these are unacceptable a full ticket refund should be provided, and in some instances compensation.
What does that mean?
This is broken down as follows:
You may be entitled to compensation between £125 and £600 depending on the flight distance and the delays incurred when re-routed.
You may request a refund of your ticket if the delay exceeds 5 hours – but only if you decide not to travel
Financial compensation is due unless you were informed 14 days before the flight, or you were re-routed close to your original times, or the airline can prove that the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstance.
Assistance by the Airline
Depending on the circumstances, if you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled or delayed, you may be entitled to receive assistance (catering, communications, and an overnight stay if necessary). In the event of denied boarding or cancellation, you may be offered the option of continuing your trip or a refund of your ticket