My flight has been cancelled, can I claim a refund?

British holidaymakers have been hit by a new wave of coronavirus travel chaos, as plans have been hit by staff shortages, Covid checks, delays and cancellations.

EasyJet has canceled hundreds of flights due to high levels of employee sickness due to Covid, while British Airways has also canceled almost 100 departures. Travelers at Heathrow airport have battled long queues all weekend, while motorists were stuck in six-hour traffic jams approaching Dover due to disruption to cross-Channel ferries.

If your plans have been affected, what can you do?

What are my rights if my flight was cancelled?

All airlines are required to offer compensation for flights that are canceled at short notice. With hundreds of EasyJet and British Airways flights canceled this weekend, passengers could be in line for a large payout from airlines.

If the trip was 1,500km or less, customers can claim £220. This jumps to £350 for flights within Europe of more than 1,500km, and all other flights between 1,500km and 3,500km. For all other journeys of more than 3,500km, the payment is £520.

These payments are cut in half, however, if the airline offers an alternative flight that can get you to your destination within two hours of your original flight time, for journeys of 1,500km or less. For journeys between 1,500km and 3,500km in Europe, the cut off is three hours. Flights for all other journeys have a four hour cut off.

Customers are only entitled to these payments if the cancellations are not due to “extraordinary circumstances” – namely, situations that the airline had no control over, such as bad weather and terrorist alerts.

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What are my rights if my flight was delayed?

If any flight departing the UK or with a UK airline (or arriving in the UK with an EU airline) is delayed, the airline must cover “reasonable” expenses for food and drink, telephone and email access, and accommodation if the delays are overnight .

Compensation is based on the distance traveled and the length of the delay. For flights of less than 1,500km, airlines must cover these costs after a two-hour delay. This jumps to three hours for flights between 1,500km and 3,500km, and four hours for flights longer than 3,500km.

After a three-hour delay on short haul flights, customers can claim £220, or £350 for flights between 1,500km and 3,500km. For longer flights, after four hours, the claim is £520.

If the flight is delayed for five hours, customers are entitled to a full refund within seven days, provided they do not catch the flight. If they do take the flight, they can still claim up to £520 as long as the delay was the airline’s fault.

Even if the flight is delayed because of issues at the airport, such as faulty check-in systems or problems with security checks, passengers can request a refund from their airline, which will then try and claim the money back from the airport.

If you miss your flight because you are stuck in queues you can’t claim from the airline, but if half the passengers are stuck, the airline is likely to have delayed the flight.

Can I get my money back if my Covid documentation is wrong?

Customers who are unable to travel because their Covid documentation is wrong will not be able to claim money from the airline.

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If test results have not arrived in time, they may be able to claim refunds for the tests from their testing centre. But they will not be able to claim compensation for missed flights.

This could, however, be covered by your travel insurance policy. However, many policies have Covid-related exemptions, so double check your policy to ensure you are covered.

Can I get money back for ferry delays?

Motorists traveling abroad have also faced significant delays this weekend thanks to major tailbacks at Dover and other ports. The rules for refunds when traveling by ferry are different to flights, but customers are entitled to a refund if their departure is canceled or delayed.

Ferry customers can get back a quarter of their ticket price if they are delayed by an hour, for a journey of up to four hours.

For journeys of between four and eight hours, this benchmark jumps to two hours. For eight to 24-hour journeys, customers can claim compensation after a three hour wait.

If the delays are more than double these wait times, the compensation jumps to 50pc of the ticket price. The cash must be paid within a month of the claim.

As with airlines, ferry operators do not have to compensate passengers if the causes of delays were outside their control, such as weather conditions that would affect the safety of passengers.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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