Regularly travelling by air is now an ordinary part of many people’s lives. Visiting relatives in America, a city break to Barcelona, or to watch a football match at Everton’s New Stadium. In fact, statistics show that at any one time, around one million passengers are in the sky at any given time. That’s a lot of passengers, and a lot of flights.

Due to this ever increasing number of flights and passengers, sometimes things do go wrong, and your flight can be delayed or even cancelled. The law, and European regulations, protect you, and depending on the circumstances, you are often able to claim some level of financial compensation.

1: What does the law say on claiming for a delayed flight?

If your flight is delayed by more than three hours, is cancelled or overbooked, you will usually have legal rights to claim some level of compensation. These rights are governed by the Montreal Convention, and a European Regulation called ‘EC 261/2004’.

For this European Union (EU) law to apply, your flight must have departed from Europe, or have been with a European airline.

Specifically, your flight must have departed from the UK, European Union (EU), Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland and/or you must have flown with a UK or EU airline to somewhere in the UK, EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

If one or both of these situations apply, it is likely that you will be entitled to financial compensation.

The EU law does not apply if, for example, you flew from Singapore to London on a Qantas flight, as the flight did not originate in the above mentioned countries, and was not with a UK or EU airline (Qantas is Australia’s national airline). It would also not apply if you flew from Los Angeles to New York for instance.

In these circumstances, the level of compensation to which you are entitled, if any, would depend upon the individual airline’s terms and conditions.

2: What level of financial compensation am I entitled to in the UK for a delayed flight?

The level of flight delay compensation to which you are entitled depends not upon your ticket price, but rather the distance of your flight and the length of the delay.

Your flight must have been delayed or cancelled because of something that was the airline’s responsibility, such as a technical fault. It can not have been due to ‘exceptional circumstances’, such as very bad weather, or a strike, which are circumstances beyond the airline’s control.

The compensation you can claim if your flight is delayed for three hours or more is as follows:

Which airports are the worst offenders? London Gatwick, Luton, Manchester, Glasgow, Heathrow, Edinburgh & more

According to this graphic from the BBC here, London Gatwick, London Luton, Manchester, Glasgow, Heathrow and Edinburgh are the top worst offending airports for delayed flights:-


All flights from or to these airports may be subject to the rules regarding delayed flights, but it’s important to note the EU/non-EU distinction mentioned above.

Further questions on claiming the highest amount possible for a delayed flight in the UK?

Claiming compensation is not always straightforward, and you may have unanswered questions or a further query. To discuss further, or if you need to talk about the legal element of making a claim for compensation, please contact our editor, Gavin Ward, using the contact form, or by email.