The technical glitch that stranded and disappointed holidaymakers, could see British Airways forking out compensation to the tune of more than £100 million. Of course, most customers would rather things just went according to plan, than go through the process of making a claim. But if events don’t quite go your way, then what exactly are your rights?

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, you have certain rights under EU law – however, this only applies if you departed from a European airport, or if your flight was with a European airline. The good thing, is that ‘EU’ in this context includes, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Sadly, if this doesn’t apply to you, then you’ll have to try to find compensation through other means – such as directly with the airline or possibly your travel insurance provider.

If fault lies with the airline, then you should always speak to them first about compensation. If you’ve tried and tried and don’t feel you’re being listened to, then contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Length of your delay

What you’re entitled to, depends on how long you’ve been delayed for. So, if you’ve been delayed for two or more hours, then the airline has to provide you with vouchers for food and drink, as well as ensure you can email and make telephone calls. If you’re delayed overnight, then you’re also entitled to accommodation and will be reimbursed for transport between the hotel and the airport. Bear in mind though – airlines will only cough up for ‘reasonable’ expenses so don’t use it as an excuse to drain the hotel bar, order caviar or demand a suite.

If you’re unfortunate enough to be delayed for three or more hours, then you’ll also be entitled to financial compensation – but only if the delay is the airline’s fault (this doesn’t include strike action). What you’ll get, will depend on three things: distance of the flight, the length of the delay, and whether or not you’re flying to an EU country. Depending on your circumstances, you could be entitled to anything between €250 and €600 (approximately £217 - £521**).

If your flight ends up delayed for five or more hours, then you’re not obliged to take it at all and the airline must give you a refund if that’s what you want. A full refund means being refunded for the cost of any flights you haven’t used that are included in the same journey, such as onward or return flights.

Even if you decide not to take the flight, the airline still has to provide you with food, drink, overnight accommodation (if needed) and transport between the hotel and airport, as well as the ability to make phone calls or send emails.

If you’re worried about being stranded part way through a journey, then don’t worry, airlines must also ensure they put you on a flight back to where you started from.

If you’re able to muster up some holiday spirit even after a five-hour delay, then you can still make a claim for financial compensation of up to €600 depending where you’re going and the distance.

What you’re entitled to, if your flight is cancelled

There’s nothing more disheartening at the start of your holiday adventure, than to see ‘cancelled’ written in big, red, capital letters next to your flight number. If that happens, then you can claim a full refund, or accept an alternative flight. Needless to say, if you choose to hang around and wait for another flight, then you have all the other entitlements to food, drink, and accommodation.

You also have the right to claim money back from the airline if a replacement flight delays your journey by two or more hours. The amount of compensation will depend on the distance of the flight and when it was cancelled – based on these factors, you could be eligible for up to €600.

Travel smart and buy travel insurance

Bumpy rides are all well and good if they’re part of your holiday adventure – but getting to your destination should be plain sailing. However, life has a habit of not always going to plan, which is why savvy travellers, have travel insurance – because it’s not just about delayed or cancelled flights.

Appropriate policies could cover you for all sorts of holiday dramas – lost luggage, emergency medical care, and even repatriation should you need it. Travel policies vary so make sure you check your cover to find out what it includes. More importantly, it can cover holidays that end up cancelled because operators have gone bust. It’s a depressing thought, but it has and can happen – so, keep walking on that holiday sunshine and get covered with comparethemarket.com.

**Currency exchange approximations from 7 June 2017 based on:
http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/convert/?Amount=250&From=EUR&To=GBP

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