/ Travel & Leisure

Had a flight cancelled? Here’s how we can help

When a flight cancellation almost ruined a member’s weekend, he visited our site to find out how much he was due. Here’s how we were able to help.

Which? member Ian, 58, was already in the departure lounge of Glasgow airport when he looked at the display to find his 10.45 flight to Nottingham East had been cancelled.

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He was setting off for a weekend with friends, so the news came as a big disappointment as well as a surprise. He told us:

“I first had to ask airport staff how to exit the departure lounge when not boarding a plane! They directed me to the service desk which was already queued up. It was about 40 minutes before I could speak to anyone”

Flight cancellations can derail your plans, but you have some recourse.

If a short-haul flight is cancelled and you arrive at your destination two hours or more later than planned, you’re protected by the Denied Boarding Regulation.

What you’re entitled to

You’re entitled to a means to communicate for free (often a refund to the cost of your calls), free meals and refreshments, and free hotel accommodation and transfers if staying overnight.

This applies whether you’re in the airport or waiting on the plane. If you choose to be rerouted, you can treat extra waiting time as part of the delay. You’re also entitled to compensation, if the reason for the cancellation was within the airline’s control.

Ian accepted Flybe’s offer of a lunch voucher, and a re-routed journey for the same day. This meant travelling by coach from Glasgow to Edinburgh, then a flight from Edinburgh to Birmingham.

Ian’s friends collected him from Birmingham, saving him a second coach trip.

Send a tailored complaint letter

The day after his cancelled flight, Ian visited the Which? website to find how much he was due.

He then used our free flight delay and cancellation compensation calculator to create a tailored complaint letter. 

On 10 June, he copied the letter verbatim into Flybe online claims form. Soon after, Flybe offered Ian compensation of €250 cash or €350 in Flybe vouchers, confirming the flight had been cancelled due to an aeroplane technical fault. Ian accepted the cash and was paid on 5 July. 

Have you ever had your plans disrupted by a flight cancellation? Did you seek redress, or even know that you could?

Let us know what happened in the comments.

Comments
Anthony Stewart says:
23 September 2019

My flight from London Luton to Inverness on the 1st of September was cancelled and we were told it was because of the air traffic control incident in France earlier that day.

The flight was cancelled after the plane had landed in Luton at about 2100 and my wife and I were given a hotel room in Luton where we had to wait 20 hours before the next scheduled flight to Inverness.

As my kids were being looked after by their uncle and they had school the following morning we could not stay in Luton for that amount of time so I ended up booking a 0630 flight with Flybe from Heathrow to Edinburgh and then getting the train to Inverness to collect our car.

I understand that due to it being an air traffic control incident there will be no compensation from Easyjet but I wonder if I could claim the cost of the Flybe flight, the taxi from Luton to Heathrow and the train ticket back from my travel insurance?

Ewan Simmonds says:
23 September 2019

I have led a very ordinary life with few exceptional occurrences. One was to do with a company that had double booked completely one of its flights from Castle Donington Airport. My wife and I were on the unlucky side of the deal. However, the unnamed company, having acknowledged their error, went out of their way to make up for it during the day by putting the unlucky ones onto the spare seats on the next available flight to the same destination, regardless of the airline in question. As an apology, presumably, we were invited to a cash desk just before we were called to our flight some 7 hours later, and given, if I remember correctly, £35 each as an apology. As we were flying to an airport where our car was parked and we were near our eventual destination, the loss of time did not matter that much. However I was aware that we were extremely lucky, unlike many of the unfortunate people who are affected by the current Thomas Cook Travel Agency demise. They have my sympathy!!

Anne Smith says:
23 September 2019

Nothing seems to be being done about travellers visiting the UK on a flight only on a Thomas Cook airline journey and due to return on Sunday 29th September to Orlando Florida. We know the flight is no more but what does the passenger do next? Rebook a flight? Be repatriated by another airline? What is the next step?

My credit card company texted me immediately Thomas Cook Airline collapsed because my transaction flagged up on their system. They invited me to raise a section 75 claim by providing an online form. In addition to the loss of the flight costs the form also asked if I had any additional expenses to claim for. I added the extra cost of rebooking with another airline for the same travel dates. Am I likely to be successful with claiming this additional cost ?

Anand Aithal says:
26 September 2019

What do you do if your airline simply doesn’t respond to your complaint?

I’ve had a horrendous experience with Iberia and I’m getting nowhere.

In April my young family (including a baby) were stranded in Madrid for 24 hours in transit between Marrakech and Heathrow. The missed connection was caused by the Iberia flight from Marrakech to Madrid being delayed. As a consequence of that delay, we also denied seat upgrades that we had paid for on the Madrid-London leg. And Iberia also lost a couple of our bags.

That’s not a great travel experience but having been a frequent flyer for 25 years I understand that stuff sometimes goes wrong.

It’s the uselessness of Iberia’s customer service that has been inexcusable.

Pretty much every interaction we had with Iberia in resolving this situation speaks of a company that simply doesn’t care.

Customer service agents at Madrid were overworked, not in the least bit interested in helping us and did not volunteer any information about compensation and emergency accommodation until I pressed them on the matter.

Having finally gotten home (minus our luggage), I contacted Iberia’s Customer Service team to claim a refund for a paid-for seat upgrade, for expenses incurred while trapped in Madrid and for compensation due under EU261/2004.

I have since had a range of futile interactions with the Customer Service team ranging from a promise to refund the cost of the seat upgrade (never received), a studious evasion of discussing my EU261 claim, customer services hanging up on me because they were “busy with other customers” and for the last 5 months no response whatsoever.

Iberia’s website and customer service processes are horrendous. After opening a case file, it is impossible to send any other message to them, or reply to a message received.

Where do I go from here? The CAA website says it’s not a matter for them and I don’t have a lot of faith that Iberia’s regulator in Spain is going to be interested in applying the law.