Flight delay compensation explained and how to check if you're due money back

Travel queues at Manchester Airports Terminal 2.
-Credit: (Image: Kenny Brown | Manchester Evening News)

In a matter of weeks, thousands of Brits will be jetting off on their summer holidays, flying to various different warm countries. However, the last thing holidaymakers want is for their plans to be disrupted by dreaded airport delays, particularly when it comes to their flights.

There's nothing more frustrating than being ready to board a plane only to be told you have to wait a bit longer for one reason or another. Sometimes, what initially appears to be a brief 20-minute delay can accumulate into hours of waiting just to board the aircraft.

So, what rights do you have if your flight is delayed, and what compensation might you be entitled to? The team at Money Saving Expert has provided a handy checklist for travellers to consult if their flight is delayed this summer.

Step 1 - Is your flight regulated by the EU/UK?

Money Saving Expert explains that all rules stem from this simple fact: to be covered for delayed flights, they must be regulated by the UK or EU.

This means:

  • Any FLIGHT leaving a UK/EU airport

  • Any UK or EU AIRLINE arriving at a UK/EU airport

If you're flying to America, Africa or Asia, any delays from any UK airport any delays will be covered, regardless of the airline. However, if your flight back isn't with a UK or EU company like BA, Ryanair, easyJet etc, then your flight won't be covered.

Another factor to consider is whether or not you are flying with a codeshare. Again, it's the operator that matters. For instance, if you've booked with British Airways but are flying back to the UK with American Airlines, then you won't be covered as it's American Airlines that counts in this example.

Step 2 - Are you eligible for compensation?

Certain EU/UK regulated flights are eligible for compensation at a set rate, but they need to meet the following criteria:

  • You arrived at your destination more than three hours later than scheduled.

  • The flight was scheduled to fly in the past 6 years (5 in Scotland)

  • The reason for the delay was the airline’s fault (bad weather would not apply)

When it comes to delays, your chance of compensation depends on when you land, not when you depart. And the arrival time is considered to be when at least one door of the aircraft has been opened, not the time you land or the time you go through passport control.

Here's a list of what compensation you could claim:

  • Flight length 1,500km, delay 3+ hours - £220

  • Flight length 1,500km to 3,500km, delay 3+ hours - £350

  • Flight length 3,500km, delay 3 to 4 hours - £260

  • Flight length 3,500km, delay 4+ hours - £520

You might also be entitled to compensation if you are bumped from your flight due to overbooking. Airlines often overbook flights in the view that not everyone will turn up.

But on the occasion everyone does, someone won't be getting on the flight, which normally means the last to check in or those who paid the least won't be heading flying - unless enough people volunteer.

When forced off a flight, you're entitled to compensation under UK/EU rules. Compensation will vary on the time delayed and how far the flight is but holidaymakers could get between £110 and £520 in compensation.

For more information and access to MoneySavingExpert's free claim tool, visit its website.