What happens if your flight gets cancelled?

It is one of those situations everybody dreads. Why? Well, because it is out of our control. Whether you are flying for a holiday, family event or for a business trip, cancelled flights are a real pain in the neck.

There are of course many reasons why planes can be delayed, or worse, cancelled, including: poor weather conditions, strikes by airline workers, bird strikes and technical problems, which sadly we cannot fix ourselves.

If you have experienced your flight being cancelled, you know how frustrating it can be. If you haven’t faced this situation, we thought we would put together a few tips for you so you know what to expect if you find yourself in this scenario.

What are your rights?

If you are flying with an EU airline from one European country to another, and your flight is cancelled, then they have to either offer you a full refund or rebook your flight, dependant upon your airlines policy on rebooking. This is also valid for long haul flights too.

But be aware! If you accept a refund for your cancelled flight and you have booked your flights separately for the rest of your trip, the airline no longer has an obligation to look after you.

Again, if you have booked your flights independently and it is cancelled, but you choose to reschedule and book another outward flight on a different date, it is solely up to you to reschedule the rest of your onward journey – hotel, transfers or hire car etc. If you don’t, then the hotel, for example, will view you as a no show, and charge you the full amount of your holiday.

The other nightmare to this situation is being left stranded after your cancelled flight. In this situation, the airline you are travelling with should offer you a welfare package. This can include up to two phone calls, food and drinks, hotel accommodation if you have to wait until the next day to catch a flight, as well as transport to take you to and from the hotel and airport.

Sometimes airlines will arrange all of this themselves; others will reimburse any reasonable costs that you have had to pay out for and organise yourself. Before you do pay out for anything be sure to speak with your airline to check their policy, and what they will pay out for. Always keep hold of all receipts and paperwork to help prove all of your expenses and make the process that bit easier.

If you’re given a new plane ticket with a two hour wait for a short haul flight, or over four hours for a long haul flight, then you are entitled to vouchers for access to food and drink by your airline at the airport.

Under what circumstances when my flight is cancelled will I not receive any help or compensation?

  • Bird strikes
  • Connecting flights
    • If you miss a connecting flight with a different airline due to your first flight being cancelled or delayed, then unfortunately you will not be able to receive compensation.

Travelling can be stressful anyway, so always check before you leave your home or hotel that your flight is still scheduled to arrive and depart on time. If you find out on your way to the airport, try and get hold of your travel operator, and ask what the situation is – and what is going to happen.

Finally, just remember that you shouldn’t be left stranded, there will always be a solution. If you find out after you have checked in and have gone through security, then why not spend a little while longer doing some retail therapy in duty free?

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