Travellers hit by flight delays or cancellations routinely lose out on compensation they’re entitled to. As I found out on a family holiday to Greece, it pays to know your rights when it comes to flights.
We arrived at Gatwick at 5.45am to be told at the BA check-in desk that our 8am flight to Thessalonika had been cancelled. No reason was given for the cancellation and no information was forthcoming as to what would happen next. After a very long wait in a very slow queue, we were finally told that we were being re-routed, necessitating a fraught bus ride to Heathrow to catch a 12pm flight to Cyprus, where we then had a further wait for a separate flight to Thessalonika.
All in all, a very stressful day – especially with two under-threes in tow. At Heathrow, we were given some food vouchers from customer services, but only after we requested them. By the time we finally got to our destination, it was 11pm – nine hours later than our original stated arrival time.
Getting the compensation I deserve
On our return, we researched our flight cancellation rights and found that as our journey was disrupted for more than three hours, we were entitled to compensation.
We raised a complaint via the BA website. When they replied, a couple of weeks later, they told us that EU compensation wasn’t payable on this occasion as the cancellation had been ‘outside of their control’. We were offered 10,000 Avios points or an eVoucher to the value of £125.
Dissatisfied with their response, we queried why the cancellation had been outside of their control, but they weren’t able to tell us. So we raised a complaint with the flight regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority. One month later, BA came back to say we were entitled to a full refund of £400 per person – a total of £1,200 overall.
Flight delay compensation
So, if you’re to take away anything from my story, it’s that you should hold your airline to account and claim the compensation you’re rightly owed.
And not enough people are doing that. We’ve found that in a year more than 9,000 flights were delayed by three hours or more, meaning around 900,000 passengers are potentially eligible to receive compensation. But our investigation found only four in 10 claimed compensation, meaning we’re collectively missing out on millions of pounds
Have you had your flight cancelled or delayed by more than three hours? Did you try to claim a refund? Oh and if you’ve been subject to a flight cancellation or a delay of three hours or more any time in the last six years (five years in Scotland), we’ve put together a free tool to help you claim your refund.