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People’s Rights as an Airline Passenger

Have you ever booked your holiday and gone to the airport only to find that there is a long delay with your flight or even that it has been delayed entirely? This can cause major upsets although it is not too common thankfully. There are times though such as the Volcano in Europe a few Jackyears ago and also when workers take industrial action and go on strike that this does happen. When it does happen, do you know what your rights are? Most of us don’t, and the typical British way is to put up with it and grumble to ourselves. Some people though fly off the handle and start complaining without even knowing their rights. If you book your holiday or flight through a member of ABTA and is travelling within Europe, then you are covered, and you do have rights.

Delayed or cancelled flights within the EU

If your flight has been delayed for more than two hours or even cancelled and you are travelling within the EU, then you airline is obligated to provide you with the following:

  • Access to Phone and or Email
  • Refreshments
  • Meals
  • Accommodation if overnight
  • Transport to and from accommodation

Airlines are required to look after your needs in these events, but that is up to a reasonable point. For instance, in the event of a significant delay or cancellation, airlines would not accept financial responsibility and reimburse you for expensive meals, entertainment or even alcohol. Although they will provide you with food if required, you cannot expect them to pick up the bill if you want to eat at a 5 star hotel restaurant. If your flight is delayed by over 5 hours, then you are entitled to a full refund of your money and also free transport to your point of origin. So if you started your trip  from Manchester and went to London and was supposed to fly to Greece and the flight was delayed for more than 5 hours in London, the airline would be responsible to get you back to Manchester as this is the origin of your journey. They would not need to provide you with a taxi to your home, only the airport of origin.


If your flights are delayed for more than 3 hours to your final destination, then you may be entitled to compensation. If you have not already claimed for this and the flight was a couple of years ago, you can still claim as long as you have all of the supporting documentation to prove you were booked on the flight in question. The compensation offered ranges between 250 to 600 Euros and depended on the distance of the flight.

Major Disruption

In the event that there is a major disruption such as the Volcano which we saw a few years ago dispersing a cloud of ash over Europe, the amount that an airline will look after you are limited due to the sheer amount of people that are affected. You will still be entitled to a refund, but compensation may not be offered due to the problem being classed as a Force Majeure, or an act of nature. You will need to check the details in your contract and see what is offered as it does vary between airlines. In the event of a major strike which has a knock on effect to all airlines, you may also be limited to what you can claim, and you should contact the airline directly. You can also contact the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) who will be able to clarify exactly what you are entitled to.

Travel Deals In and Outside of the EU

If your flight is part of a travel deal, then you will need to consult the company you booked your holiday as they are responsible for you rather than the airlines. You will need to check all of the small print before you book your holiday so that you know what to expect and what coverage you have in the event of delay or cancellation. If you are travelling outside of the EU, then your rights do change slightly. Most airlines will offer travel on a later flight or a full refund if there is a significant delay in your flight. Some airlines will offer food and accommodation but not all. You may need to pay also for this first and claim this back at a later date, you are also advised to keep expenditure to a minimum otherwise the airline may refuse to refund you the money. For more information regards this subject you should contact the CAA and when booking a holiday or a flight, always make sure that you use a company that is ABTA registered to make sure that you have the maximum amount of coverage in the event of problems. Problems do happen, although not often and remember as frustrated as you may be, think of the staff who have to deal with hundreds of customers that this affects. They do try and help everyone, but you do need to exert patience and understanding so that they can help you as quickly and efficiently as possible.


Ted Hunter has written this article, and he has a lot of experience when it comes to travelling. Ted has travelled all over the world and likes to blog and comment on his travels so that people can read about his experiences. Whenever Ted travels abroad, he will use Travel Republic to take care of all of his travel details.

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