Flight Delay Compensation: How To Get Compensated For A Delayed Flight (2024)

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When the unexpected happens, it’s always smart to arm yourself with the information that can help you quickly navigate your options. Knowing whether a delay in your travel plans is covered, and how much coverage you’ll be provided with can help you manage your out of pocket expenses and hopefully avoid ruining your vacation plans.

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What Is Flight Delay Compensation?

Flight delay compensation is reimbursem*nt that airlines or insurance may provide to passengers for flight delays beyond a certain threshold. There are multiple factors involved in calculating compensation, ranging from duration of delay, distance of your flight and the reasons for the disruption, but it is always a good idea to understand what is covered under all of the options available to you and under what circ*mstances you can claim compensation.

How Much Is Flight Delay Compensation?

There are several factors to consider when figuring out how much you’re entitled to in the way of compensation for a delayed flight. Some airlines voluntarily offer vouchers for meals and accommodation—sometimes even when they’re not required to—but, in other cases, they may not offer anything at all.

Depending on factors like delay length, departure and destination and whether you have insurance coverage through an individual policy or your credit card, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, your plan may have limits so be sure to review the terms before incurring any expenses.

Credit Card Coverage

Several credit card issuers provide card members some sort of trip delay insurance. While the coverage amounts and the length of delay required to qualify vary from card to card, there are some concepts that are consistent.

To be eligible for trip delay compensation, you must make the purchase with your credit card and your travels need to be disrupted for a certain, stipulated amount of time. If your delay qualifies for coverage, this insurance will offer reimbursem*nt for reasonable expenses incurred as a consequence of the delay, which can include meals, hotel stays, toiletries or other necessary purchases up to the total coverage amount.

EU 261

The European Union introduced legislation to protect passengers facing delays, cancellations and other issues that may arise when traveling. EU 261 is the regulation establishing the minimum coverage that airlines are mandated to provide in the way of compensation for travelers. Since this is a European Union regulation, there are some restrictions as to when a passenger can take advantage of it. This regulation applies to the 27 EU member countries and their territories, plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

European Union (EU) air passenger rights apply to the following flight scenarios:

  • Flights within the EU whether operated by an EU or non-EU airline
  • Flights arriving in the European Union and operated by an EU airline
  • Flights departing the European Union regardless of the airline

It is worth noting that if you have received any compensation from either the airline or any other entity from a non-EU country, you are not eligible to receive EU 261 coverage compensation.

Flights departing the European Union and arriving in the U.S. are also encompassed within these protections, including those with connecting flights (even if they are on non-European carriers) as long as they are booked through an EU airline in the same itinerary.

Delayed Departures

You are entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed for the following durations:

  • A delay of two hours or more for a flight of 1,500 kilometers (about 932 miles) or less
  • A delay of three hours or more for intra-EU flights of more than 1,500 km
  • Any flight between 1,500 and 3,500 km
  • A delay of four hours or more for any flight

If the expected departure is scheduled for the next calendar day, passengers are entitled to receive hotel accommodations and transport to and from the hotel and airport. If the airline does not provide this free of charge, you are entitled to reimbursem*nt by the airline.

Delayed Arrivals

Unless the delay is due to extraordinary circ*mstances (like adverse weather, security risks, political instability, etc), you will be entitled to compensation if your flight arrives at your destination three or more hours later than scheduled. The longer your flight, the more compensation you will be entitled to.

Flight DistanceCompensation in Euros

Under 1,500 km (approx. 932 miles)


Between 1,500 and 3,500 km (approx. 932 to 2,174 miles)


More than 3,500 km (approx. 2,174 miles)


Unlike most other protections, EU 261 forces airlines to compensate you for delays and not for damages, meaning that you do not need to present hotel reservation or meal receipts to have them reimbursed.

Montreal Convention

The Montreal Convention is an international treaty signed by over 130 countries including the United States and most of Europe. This agreement establishes protections for passengers and dictates how airlines are required to handle flight delays and cancellations.

Being an international treaty, the Montreal Convention only kicks in when flying internationally and at least one of the countries is a participating member.

This convention states that passengers are entitled to compensation for damages incurred from reasonable expenses caused by flight delays, provided the passenger wasn’t negligent in their actions—like missing your flight because you stuck around in the airline lounge too long. You will be required to keep receipts for all expenses incurred as part of this delay to claim reimbursem*nt, and you will receive no compensation beyond that.

The maximum compensation amount is also set by the Convention and calculated by the International Monetary Fund using Special Drawing Rights—an international reserve asset and currency basket of sorts—to determine the maximum amount of compensation passengers are entitled to.

Supplemental Travel Insurance

If you do not have access to trip delay coverage through your credit card, or your trip isn’t covered under EU 261 or the Montreal Convention protections, there are multiple insurance companies offering trip delay coverage through standalone insurance plans.

While coverage amounts and covered reasons vary from one provider to the next, they all offer to cover your reasonably incurred expenses after a set amount of time for pre-established causes, much in the same way the coverage through credit card insurance does. Most plans have a per day maximum covered amount and a total maximum limit per person. Commonly covered expenses range from hotel stays, meals, transportation and other necessities.

Like with most trip delay insurance, keep all of your receipts for purchases you intend to be reimbursed for as well as documentation regarding your delay. As a best practice, it’s a good idea to keep in mind what the daily and total covered amounts are so you don’t accidentally exceed them and end up going out of pocket on non-reimbursable amounts.

How To Claim Flight Delay Compensation

If you are initiating a claim through your credit card, the first thing to do is reach out to the card issuer to get the claim started. Each credit card will have its own process, but they are all similar in that you will need to collect receipts to get reimbursed on as well as documentation to prove the disruption to your travel plans.

For claims filed under EU 261 or the Montreal Convention, you will have to contact the airline directly. Each airline will have its own process but most will ask for items ranging from original itinerary, proof of disruption and receipts to prove the expenses you’re seeking reimbursem*nt for.

How Long Does It Take To Get Flight Delay Compensation

The amount of time it takes to receive compensation is, unfortunately, highly variable and unpredictable. Depending on whether you’re leveraging your credit card, filing the claim under EU 261 or the Montreal Convention and which insurance company the claim is going through, your results will vary.

The most important factor is to file your claim within the specified timeframe. Some of these benefits will be honored only if you present your claim in addition to the required supporting documentation within the coverage time frame. If not, you risk your claim being automatically denied just for filing it too late.

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Bottom Line

The amount of compensation you can claim varies widely from country to country, airline to airline. Some airlines will be generous automatically but expect a fight from others. Knowing your rights is important to make sure that you’re not out money from a delay that you had no issue in causing.

Before you head out on your vacation, prepare for the event as if you will be delayed. That way, in the event of a delay, you can readily present your case to the airport or airline representative and streamline the process for optimal results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are my rewards flights also covered by flight delay insurance?

Yes, they can be. Most insurance covers reward trips—those flights booked using points or miles—as long as the full amount of taxes and fees is charged using your credit card (if claiming through credit card insurance) and regardless of method of payment if claiming through EU or Montreal Convention protection.

What items are generally covered under trip delay insurance?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive list for what is or isn’t covered under trip delay insurance. Reasonable expenses, though, normally account for meals, beverages, hotel accommodations, transportation and any other purchases that you would need as a consequence of a trip being delayed. However, even within those purchases, there are items that may not be covered, like a five-course meal at a Michelin restaurant or a stay at the presidential suite in the most expensive hotel in town—as those are not considered reasonable expenses.

Is there a limit for how much I can claim?

Yes, all coverages for trip delay insurance will have a limit, whether provided by your credit card, supplemental travel insurance or even under EU 261 or Montreal Convention. Consult these limits before making necessary purchases to avoid having to cover those amounts out of pocket if your claim covers them partially.

Flight Delay Compensation: How To Get Compensated For A Delayed Flight (2024)


Flight Delay Compensation: How To Get Compensated For A Delayed Flight? ›

To receive compensation for delayed flights, call your airline through their customer service line or go to the customer service desk if you are at the airport to file a claim. However, you will only get compensated if the delay is within the airline's control and is not weather-related.

How do you get compensated for a delayed flight? ›

To receive compensation, you must file a claim with the airline for the delay, and the delay must have been caused by a factor within the airline's control (so a weather delay wouldn't count).

How do I make a flight delay compensation claim? ›

Contact your airline directly

If you believe you have the right to claim compensation or reimbursem*nt, you should contact your airline or airport directly. Compensation is not automatic, and you will need to contact your airline to make a claim.

How much compensation do you get for a 3 hour flight delay? ›

Flight Delay Compensation Amounts in UK Pounds
Flight DistanceLess than 3 hours3 hours or more
All flights 1,500km or less£0£220
Internal EU flights over 1,500km£0£350
Non-internal EU flights between 1,500km and 3,500km£0£350
Internal EU flights over 1,500km£0£260
May 20, 2024

How long can a flight be delayed before compensation United? ›

Claims for Compensation on United Airlines Flights

1. Delays - You are entitled to compensation if your United Airlines flight is delayed for three hours or longer. 2. Cancellations - You can submit a compensation claim if United Airlines cancels your flight less than 14 days before the scheduled departure.

What happens if your flight is delayed more than 2 hours? ›

If your flight has been delayed for 2 hours or more, you are entitled to free-of-charge meals or refreshments, depending on the duration of your wait. If your domestic flight has kept you waiting for over 6 hours, the airline must communicate a reschedule time more than 24 hours before the original scheduled departure.

How long can you be delayed for flight delay compensation? ›

Airlines must provide compensation for the inconvenience of flight cancellations and flight delays of 3 hours or more and if the disruption is within their control and not related to safety, and if the airline notified you of the disruption 14 days or less in advance.

What happens if an airline refuses to pay compensation? ›

If you've asked the airline and they won't give you the right compensation, you can complain to an independent organisation. If the airline is a member of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme, you can complain to the scheme.

What is the best company to claim compensation for delayed flights? ›

5 Best Flight Delay Compensation Claim Companies
  • #5. Airhelp. ...
  • #4. Flightright. ...
  • #3. AirAdvisor. ...
  • #2. Skycop. ...
  • #1. ClaimFlights. ...
  • Airhelp Fees. Airhelp charges a 35% commission fee (including VAT) on successful compensation claims. ...
  • Flightright Fees. ...
  • AirAdvisor Fees.

How do I claim flight delay compensation from my credit card? ›

You'll likely be asked to provide:
  1. The plane ticket or credit card receipt for ticket.
  2. A written statement from airline verifying the delay.
  3. Itemized original receipts of necessary and reasonable expenses.

Can you get a refund if your flight is delayed? ›

Under the new rules, airlines must provide automatic cash refunds to passengers when flights are canceled or significantly delayed. It defines a significant delay as three hours for flights within the U.S. and six hours for international flights.

How long does your flight have to be delayed to get compensation on easyJet? ›

Delayed flights

If your flight is delayed by 3 hours (flights over 1500km, e.g London to Dubrovnik) you are entitled to vouchers. If for any reason we are unable to provide you with vouchers, we will reimburse you up to the same amount if you provide appropriate receipts.

How much is EC 261 compensation? ›

The EU regulation 261/2004 is concerned with the following: It is intended for passengers who suffer delayed or cancelled flights, overbooking or denied boarding. Depending on the circ*mstances, and subject to certain conditions, it may give rise to a claim for compensation of between €250 and €600 per person.

How to ask for compensation for a delayed flight? ›

To receive compensation for delayed flights, call your airline through their customer service line or go to the customer service desk if you are at the airport to file a claim. However, you will only get compensated if the delay is within the airline's control and is not weather-related.

How do I get compensated by United? ›

Contact Customer Care if you need to be reimbursed for expenses caused by a delayed or cancelled flight, and if you have any questions or feedback.

Will the airline pay for the hotel if the flight is cancelled? ›

In addition, every airline except Frontier is committed to complimentary hotel accommodations for any passenger affected by an overnight cancellation. Otherwise, here's what you can expect from different carriers for a "controllable cancellation," per the U.S. Department of Transportation website. Yes.

How long can a flight be delayed before compensation American? ›

The EU 261/2004 regulation specifies conditions for which a passenger becomes entitled to an American Airlines delay compensation. The conditions as outlined in the regulation are: That an American Airlines flight arrives at its final destination, more than 3 hours after the ETA.

What if a flight is delayed by one hour? ›

If the passengers are not informed or they miss the connecting flight on same ticket number, the airline has to provide an alternate flight or compensation which includes a full refund and INR 5000 or booked one-way basic fare whichever is less for flights having block time up to one hour, INR 7500 or booked one-way ...

What to ask for when a flight is delayed? ›

If you are delayed, ask the airline staff if it will pay for meals or a phone call. Some airlines, often those charging very low fares, do not provide any amenities to stranded passengers. Others may not offer amenities if the delay is caused by bad weather or something else beyond the airline's control.

How long can a flight be delayed before compensation spirit? ›

Flight Delay Compensation Spirit Airlines

According to Spirit Airlines' policies, if your flight is delayed by more than three hours, you may be eligible for compensation. This compensation could come in the form of vouchers, travel credits, or even cash reimbursem*nt, depending on the severity and cause of the delay.


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