What are you entitled to if your flight is delayed or cancelled?

Holidays abroad are back, but due to staff shortages, airports are struggling, and flights are being routinely cancelled and delayed across the country, including domestic and European routes often last minute. So with the school summer holidays fast approaching and many of us jetting off on holiday for the first time in three years since the pandemic, what happens if your flight is delayed or, worse, cancelled?

Who are these delays and cancellations affecting?

British Airways has announced that from April to October,  they will be removing 30,000 flights from their schedule, and EasyJet has cancelled 10,000 between July and September. Passengers of other airlines, such as TUI and Wizz Air have also experienced many delays and cancellations.

From London airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick and London City, around a million bookings have already been cancelled, and Heathrow has now requested that airlines stop selling tickets for the summer as it attempts to regain order.

Long-haul flights have so far not been affected by the chaos.

How do you know if your flight has been cancelled?

The first place you should check is with your airline, as they will have the most up-to-date information on the status of your flight. However, there are other places you can check, including flight tracker sites such as FlightAware, flightradar24 and FlightStats.

What should you do if your flight has been cancelled?

If your flight is cancelled, you have a number of rights under UK law, but airlines will generally not be very forthcoming in making these known to you. However, they should offer you a replacement flight or a refund.

What if it is only part of my journey that is cancelled?

Even if only one leg of your journey is cancelled, you can get your money back for any part of your ticket that you have not used, for example, the onward or return part of a round trip where your outbound flight was cancelled.

You have a right also to a flight back to your original departure airport If you are only part of the way through your journey and do not want a replacement flight.

Replacement flights

If you opt for an alternative flight, your airline must offer you sufficient food, drink, and accommodation if the replacement flight does not fly on the same day.

How much compensation are you entitled to for a cancelled flight?

The amount of compensation you get will depend upon the distance of your journey, when your flight was cancelled and the departure and arrival times of your rescheduled flight, but you may be entitled to up to:

  • £220 per person for less than 1,500km;
  • £350 per person for 1,500km to 3,500km; and
  • £520 per person for more than 3,500km.

To receive compensation, you can claim it from the airline. You also may be able to claim from your travel insurance if your policy covers cancellations.

What if my flight is delayed?

Depending on the exact length of your delay and the distance of your flight, if your flight is delayed,  your airline should provide you with sufficient food and drink and accommodation. If you are not offered any of this at the airport, you should keep receipts for any expenses you incurred to claim this back from the airline.

Delays of three hours or more

If your flight is delayed for more than three hours and it is the airline’s fault (not due to weather conditions or security risks), you are entitled to compensation. Again, this depends on your flight’s distance and the delay’s duration.

Delays of five hours or more

If your flight is delayed by more than five hours, you do not have to take the flight. If you do take the flight, you are still entitled to claim compensation. If you do not take the flight, the airline must, within seven days of the flight, give you:

  • A full refund
  • A flight back to where you departed from, if you are mid-way through a journey
  • A full refund for any other flights from the airline for that journey that you will now not use because they are in the same booking

If you decide not to wait and go on the flight, you should advise the airline as soon as possible.

To discuss this, or any other related matter, please contact Jane directly on 01483 887766, email info@hartbrown.co.uk or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Jane Crosby

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises...

Jane Crosby -Head of Dispute Resolution

Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution & Accredited Mediator

Jane Crosby

Jane is a Partner based in the Guildford office and she is also Head of the Dispute Resolution team here at Hart Brown. Jane specialises in employment Law and commercial litigation and brings more than 15 years' experience to her role.

Prior to entering the legal profession, Jane was employed in the aviation industry. This experience is appreciated by many of Jane's clients who note that she is able to take a commercial and pragmatic approach to any legal issue that they face.

Jane acts for a wide range of individuals and businesses and her areas of specialism include aviation, property related industries and IT. Jane regularly advises on aspects of employment law, such as settlement agreements, employment contracts, policies and procedures, redundancies, equal pay, data protection, issues arising from TUPE and reorganisations, the calculation of holiday pay, bonus and commission payments, disciplinary and grievance issues, dismissal and termination issues, the protection of confidential information and the enforcement of restrictive covenants. Jane gets involved in GDPR training for her clients and she is able to deliver tailored employment law training sessions upon request.

As a commercial litigation lawyer, Jane also deals in shareholder and directors disputes, commercial contract disputes and the enforcement of restrictive covenants.

Jane has been involved in successful high value commercial litigation for clients in the High Courts, she is an accredited mediator and she is a member of the Employment Lawyers Association.

Jane is often asked to write for a number of well known publications, including The Daily Mail, The Telegraph and The Week and she has been interviewed on BBC Radio 4.

Here is small selection of the feedback that Jane has received:

“Jane, I cannot sincerely thank you enough for your wise counsel and am delighted to have made your acquaintance. If I am blessed with a new position somewhere I will hand over my contract in the first instance to you. Likewise, any of my friends, peers, romans and countrymen wanting advice, I will point them in your direction.”

“Jane, you have been most resilient on my behalf for which I sincerely thank you for all your endeavours. I have a tremendous working relationship with Hart Brown and you have undoubtedly compounded this further."

“I appreciated the clarity of advice given at a stressful time”.

“A sensitive and highly professional approach and efficient work in the interests of the client”.

“Your advice, conduct and assistance have been indeed outstanding and very professional but also – and most importantly – very humane”.