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Flight delay compensation

Few passengers realise that if their flight arrives three hours or more behind schedule they could be entitled to a payout under EU flight delay compensation rules

Flight delay compensation
Passengers whose flight arrives more than three hours behind schedul could be entitled to compensation. Image: Getty.

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There are few things more frustrating than being stuck in an airport, going nowhere. But what most people don’t realise is there could be some money in it.

According to compensation specialist refund.me, since July 2012 less than 2% of eligible passengers have successfully claimed for delays. This low figure stems partly from a lack of awareness — many passengers don’t know that if their flight arrives three hours or more behind schedule they could be entitled to a payout, provided they’re travelling on either an EU airline or a flight departing from within the EU.

The compensation is fixed at between €250 (£205) and €600 (£493) per person, regardless of cabin class or flight cost (the exact amount depends on the length of the delay and the overall flight distance). There are also qualifications — compensation isn’t applicable if the delay is due to circumstances beyond the airline’s control, such as severe weather or strikes.

Passengers affected should make their claim direct to the airline. Anyone who feels they’ve had a claim unfairly dismissed should contact either the Central Aviation Authority (CAA) for ex-UK flights, or, if your flight departed from outside the UK, that country’s equivalent body. If the CAA feels you have a case, the airline is likely to concede and pay up. But if it still refuses, you can take it to the small claims court, and use the CAA’s verdict as evidence to support your case. caa.co.uk

European Union passenger rights
Regulation 261/2004 came into force in 2005 and established common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays of flights. europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/index_en.htm