/ Travel & Leisure

Should all airlines offer automatic compensation for flight delays?

flight delays

A delayed or cancelled flight can ruin a holiday and claiming compensation can be a frustratingly drawn-out process. That’s why we’re calling on all airlines to implement automatic compensation. 

According to Which?’s analysis of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data, almost 1.2m air passengers were hit by extensive flight delays last year. This means many passengers may have been entitled to compensation under current EU regulation.

Holiday blues

My recent holiday to Ibiza was exactly what a holiday is meant to be: too much sun, sea and sangria. It was my first experience of an all-inclusive holiday and having the added effort of sourcing food and drink taken away was a delight. That’s not to say that we didn’t pop into the town to sample the authentic cuisine.

After all that R&R, my better half and I were fully recuperated and ready(ish) to face the ‘work, work, work, eat, sleep, repeat’ routine that awaited. However, we weren’t expecting the stresses of the real world to encroach on our holiday at the outward bound check-in desk.

On arrival at Ibiza Airport we were welcomed by a message, emblazoned in bright yellow, and alternating between Spanish and English. Our flight was delayed.

An hour or so later, a representative from the tour operator we booked through came round to let us know that our plane would be delayed by a full six hours! Faces red with frustration, we patiently waited to be checked in, graciously accepted the €30 food and drink voucher, and went to the departures lounge.

Yes, we were fed and watered and, as a Which? employee, I knew exactly what I needed to do to claim compensation, but we were still wasting our day doing nothing when we could’ve been on a beach or on our sofa.Thank goodness we weren’t on our way to an important business meeting, a family engagement or flying out for a holiday and suffering an even longer delay.

When we eventually took off at 1535 (we were due to fly at 1035), the pilot informed us the plane had been stuck in Moscow overnight. Armed with all this information, my girlfriend began the compensation process as soon as we got in. After completing the relevant forms, we were told to wait 56 days(!) before we heard back.

Wider issue

Of course, we aren’t the only ones to be hit by severe delays. Statistics from five years ago reveal that EasyJet, Ryanair and British Airways have seen an increase in the number of passengers suffering lengthy delays to short haul journeys.

Over the last five years EasyJet has seen a 111% increase in the number of passengers delayed by three hours or more, with the total now standing at 191,000. Ryanair and British Airways have seen their figures almost double over this period to 90,000 and 131,000 respectively.

If, like me, you flew short haul for your holiday, you would potentially be able claim €250 if you were delayed by more than three hours. Long-haul passengers could claim €300 if you arrived three to four hours late, rising to €600 if your flight was at least four hours late.

Should you have experienced a delayed or cancelled flight in the same way as me, you can use our new-and-improved tool to start your claim here:

Claim for a flight delay

BA’s catastrophic IT failure over the spring bank holiday this year was a huge catalyst behind the launch of our new Upgrade Airline Compensation campaign, which called on British Airways to introduce automatic compensation. Now we’re opening the campaign up to apply pressure on all airlines to implement automatic compensation.

You can support us by signing the petition below.

Aileen Banks says:
29 July 2017

Flying all the time is not very good for the planet Pilots who are always flying so low the noise from planes is not very good when school children are learning and for people who hear and see planes that fly over their homes with noise from jet engines and to sleep at night with planes flying over peoples homes is really annoying

no says:
29 July 2017

Anything that deters people from flying is a good thing for the environment

Mary McCabe says:
29 July 2017

One thing which could be clamped down on is over-booking. When KLM bumped me off the place on my return flight from Amsterdam to Glasgow (which I had booked weeks before and had attempted to check in within the 30 hours which were allowed for free online check-in) they told me that nowadays “all the airlines overbook. It’s because they don’t want a seat to go empty”. I don’t understand why this is allowed at all. If you book a place on a specific flight that place now belongs to you, not the airline. If you don’t turn up the airline gets to keep the money you paid for your place. So at the point you book a place on a flight and the airline sells it on to somebody else it is selling something which no longer belongs to them just to get the money twice over. Which is theft. A theatre isn’t allowed to sell on a seat someone has already bought and paid for – why is an airline? Once you have a standby ticket you can be bumped off all the later flights as you go to the end of the queue. As happened to me.

Mike Hutchinson says:
29 July 2017

Mike Hutchinson says:

Whereas delays as a result of negligence should receive compensation there is little case for those reulting from “acts of God”. The pampered public, including hardworking people who NEED a holiday, elect to fly away. Most accept the possibility of a delay. Those who do not must have absolutely no concept of operational expedients such as those caused by mechanical faults, accidents, weather, political obstructions, crew sickness et al. They must accept the possibility of unforeseen and unavoidable delays if they choose to travel by air, or indeed at all. Operators have their problems too and such is the escalated demand for air travel by the masses, things are inevitably going to go wrong with increasing regularity. If they don’t like it they should stay at home and boost our own tourist economy.

Howard Barton says:
29 July 2017

Great point, being bumped off a flight , results in an actual delay to your co firmed flight plans.

Not on should the passenger ‘bumped’, get the normal EU flight delay compensation,butshould also get full compensation for consequential costs and liabilities incurred as a result of this ‘ bumping’

Mat says:
30 July 2017

So you were delayed 6 hours and your faces were red with frustration – you poor little things – try going on an anger management course and get some perspective in your life – if you don’t want delays when flying at the height of summer on a charter airline then hire your own jet

Frank says:
30 July 2017

Hi Mat,

You do not travel much by air do you, also I take it you have a very well paid job if you only fly by private charter as the typical cost to charter a small plane from Luton to Paris would be in the region of £5,000.

Stop being a care bear and remember that this kind of money is not peanuts to over 95% of the average population.

If airlines gave up over booking flights they may well fly with some empty seats but what the heck they have been paid for these seat so it no lost to them in fact the empty seat would mean they are carrying less eight so they would burn less fuel making the flight cheaper for them to operate.

Aneta says:
31 July 2017

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