The Top of the Tops
Useful Travel Information

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Top tips for every air traveller
Tip #1 – Delayed or Cancelled flights

You have to travel urgently to a meet a client, a conference or have been saving for the holiday of your dream; you have done everything you need to do to arrive at airport on time then without due course, your flight is delayed or even worse, cancelled. Before you run to your travel insurance company and pay an excess on a full compensation you deserve, - know your rights as an airline passenger.

What is the airline’s obligation to you?
Under EC Regulation 261/2004, the airline should offer you free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay, a full refund after five hours delay so that you can make other arrangements for transport, and free hotel accommodation when the delay exceeds one or more nights, as well as free transport between your hotel and the airport.

The Flight Delay Compensation Table
Length of Flight
Delay to Destination
Compensation Due
Up to 1500km
Up to 2 hours
More than 2 hours

125 euros
250 euros
1500km to 3500km
Up to 3 hours
More than 3 hours

200 euros
400 euros
More than 3500km
Up to 4 hours
More than 4 hours

300 euros
600 euros

Exceptions to this rule
The exception to this rule is if the airline can show that the cancellation was caused by “extraordinary circumstances” that could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures have been taken. If an airline can do this, they do not have to pay you compensation. Airlines are also required to fully inform passengers of their rights under this law.
What are “extraordinary circumstances”?
The list includes things such political instability, poor weather, security risks, strikes, or a technical problem with the aircraft that was unexpected and beyond an airline’s control.
How to challenge the airlines?
A recent decision in the case of Alitalia v Herman-Wallentin (an Austrian couple) – which binds all courts in the UK – says that technical problems are part and parcel of the business of operating flights. This means that unless the cancellation was a result of sabotage or terrorism or it was discovered that the plane has some hidden manufacturing defect, then the airline will be responsible for paying compensation. Even if the airline could prove “extraordinary circumstances”, it would still have to show that it had pulled out every possible stop to avoid the flight being cancelled.
Here is a good practice example of an airline faced with similar challenges.


Executive Traveller 2003