If you travel regularly enough, there’s a good chance you’ve been ‘bumped’, ‘dumped’ or have been denied boarding.
Not only is it incredibly stressful, it’s inconvenient and can result in a domino effect of missed flights, further delays and going nowhere really quickly. The good news is you are entitled to compensation from the airline. There is some bad news though. Not all airlines readily compensate and depending on where you’re flying from or to, some aren’t obligated to do so.
Depending on the circumstances, and where you are, the total compensation can vary, depending on the reason for the delay or cancellation of the flight. The amount is also dependent on the route.
What is important to note is Europe and the United States both have a passenger’s bill of rights, established in 2005 and 2009 respectively, which covers travelers and ensures compensation of some kind. Canada, on the other hand, has no regulations in place. Although a Flight Rights initiative was established in 2008 airlines don’t need to compensate passengers in any way at all. If they do choose to do this as a show of good faith, it’s usually in the form of meal vouchers, for example.
The process can be tedious and time-consuming, but here’s how to file a compensation claim for a delayed flight.
Always ensure you keep the necessary details of your delayed flight including the flight number, the date and time of the flight and the airline, have copies of your ID handy as well as the flight itinerary. Where possible have a reference to the law you’re under.
Claim Directly from the Airline
The most direct way to claim for a delayed flight is to get in contact with the airline. Email them, call them or ask a gate agent for the best possible way file a claim. Unfortunately, there is no law that states an airline needs to respond, and there is no stipulated time frame in which they need to respond. What this essentially means is the most direct route can also be the most frustrating one, with zero results.
Take Your Claim to Regulators
If you’re unable to get any assistance from the airline, or they reject your claim, you can take your claim to the regulators. For example, if you’re in the United States, then lodge a complaint with The ACPD (Aviation Consumer Protection Division). If you’re in the UK or in Europe you will need to file with CAA.
You can contact them via online forms or you can call them but keep in mind they’re not a law enforcement agency, which means there’s no guarantee that you will receive any kind of compensation from the regulators.
Take it to Court
If the first two steps prove unsuccessful you can go to the small claims court. To ensure you don’t waste your time or money, confirm your rights as a passenger to ensure you have a case.
You don’t need a lawyer for this but it’s a good idea to have all your documentation in order and also know the circumstances as to why the flight was delayed. If it was something the airline could have prevented, like not overbooking the flight, you have a case. If they claim it was due to “extraordinary circumstances” or out of their control there’s a chance you could lose.
For some, being delayed once or twice is part of the flying experience and not worth the energy or time it takes to claim, especially if the compensation is a meal voucher.
However, if a delayed flight has caused major disruptions to your travels then you’re entitled to money back. Know your rights and claim for your delayed flight.