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Flight delayed or cancelled? Top travel tips to get you home 2019

Has your flight home been cancelled? Fear not. Here we answer your most-asked questions about cancelled flights, delayed departures, travel insurance woes and how to get compensation from airlines.

What happens if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

Delayed flight man sleeping at the airport

One of the most asked questions these days is if you can get compensation for cancelled flights. If your airline cancels your flight at short notice, it is their obligation to either give you a full refund, or offer an alternative way to get to your final destination. European law also states that if your flight is delayed for three hours or more you are entitled to the same compensation as those whose flights have been cancelled. Outside of the EU, however, the same laws do not apply. So if you’re flying home from a non-EU city, you should be entitled to an alternative flight to get you home. But no food and accommodation while you wait.

Will my travel insurance cover my missed flight?

Woman checking the airport board of announcements for flight delays or cancellations

With travel insurance all depends on the policy you choose. Be sure to read the fine print and try to understand what you are covered for when purchasing a policy. Cheaper policies often won’t cover missed or delayed departures. But more comprehensive insurance policies will cover you for everything from delayed or list baggage, delayed flights and will even refund you for a holiday you’re no longer able to go on. The amount of money the insurance company will pay out also varies from policy to policy. It can range anywhere between €100 for lost or stolen baggage to €1000 for missed flights or cancelled holidays.

If I booked separate flights, am I covered?

Couple arguing with airline staff for their cancelled flight.

If you have booked on onward journey with the same airline, you will be covered for any missed connecting flights. Budget airlines sometimes have different rules, however. They often will not compensate you if a small delay causes you to miss a connecting flight, even if it’s on their airline. If you are flying with two separate airlines, the first airline is not obligated to compensate you if their delay results in you missing your connecting flight.

Separate tickets with budget airlines mean you are responsible for making flight connections. The Air Traffic Users Council states that EU rules apply equally on any journey, whether one-way or part of a return ticket.

Will I get any compensation if I’m stuck at the airport?

Family sleeping at airport because of flights delays

If your flight has been delayed for more than 2 hours the airline should initially compensate you with free meals and refreshments, plus 2 free telephone calls, or e-mails. If the delay lasts longer, they should find somewhere suitable for you to stay overnight. If the delay is due to adverse weather, strikes or any reasons that is not the airline’s fault, then it is up to your travel insurance provider to compensate you.

Again, different companies have different policies and many airlines won’t pay out for freak weather conditions, such as volcanic ash in the skies preventing all flights from taking off, as it happened in Iceland a few years ago.

Long flight ahead? Here are our top tips on how to prevent jet lag and what you can do to stay awake.

What compensation am I entitled to?

Board with cancelled flights

The amount of compensation you receive depends on the length of delay and where you are traveling to. For delays of three hours or more you are entitled to a cash payment of €250 for short flights and €400 for medium flights (between 1,500-3,500km). For long distance flights (over 3,500km) you can claim €300 for a delay of 3-4 hours or €600 for a delay of four hours or more.

If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund for that flight, or an alternative flight or method of transport. In Europe certain airlines recommend taking the train if there is no alternative to get you to your destination.

Who pays for my food and accommodation?

Hotel key on a table

For all flights into the EU or with an EU airline, the airline should provide you with food and accommodation vouchers until your flight is ready to depart. Even if you are not travelling on an EU-based airline, you will still be covered if departing from an airport inside the EU.

Accommodation is often provided on a case by case basis, depending on where you are from. If you are from overseas and have no friends or family living nearby, airlines will usually put you up in a nearby hotel. If you are Irish and flying from Dublin airport, for example, and your flight is delayed overnight, the likelihood of the airline hosting you in a hotel is pretty low.

What happens if the airline refuses to pay?

Woman frustrated for her delayed flight at the airport

The airline is legally bound to pay out for a legitimate claim due to a cancelled flight, and face a €5,000 fine should they refuse to stump up. EU regulations state that passengers flying with an EU-based carrier, or from an EU airport, can claim up to €600 plus expenses per person if the delay is over three hours and is within the airline’s control. Some airlines will offer you vouchers instead of monetary compensation. But it is your choice whether you accept them or not. If the airline refuses to pay you can take your case to the small claims court.

How do I claim for a refund or expenses?

Airlines deal with refunds and expenses differently. You will need to get in touch with the airlines directly by phone or online to check how it is done.

Will my travel insurance cover any additional costs?

Travel insurance policy

Travel insurance companies deal with claims on a case-by-case basis. Most will not pay any costs that should be covered by the airline and natural disasters such as an earthquake, hurricane or volcanic eruption. Again, don’t let travel insurance be a last-minute decision. Find the best policy for you and be sure to read the small print.

What happens if I miss a flight or connection?

If you miss a flight or connection through no fault of your own, the airline will try to get you on the next available flight. But you will most likely be charged for a new flight to your final destination If you are catching a connecting flight with a different airline and miss it. It all depends on the policy of the airline. Some might offer you a seat on the next available flight for free.

Here are 10 ways to ruin your holiday – and how to fix them.

Can I claim for a flight delay from last year?

Two passengers waiting at the airport after their flights is cancelled

You can actually claim for any delayed or cancelled flights over the past six years.

What if I had a hotel or car hire booked that I now cannot use?

It will depend on the conditions of your booking. In some cases you may be entitled to a refund, in other cases you won’t be. It’s always a good idea to check the small print before booking your hotel or car hire. Again, insurance will compensate you for this on a case by case basis.

What should I do if I my car is in the airport car parking?

Car rental agreement and key

For exceptional circumstances, such as the volcano eruption in Iceland, many car park operators said they would not charge customers extra as long as they could provide evidence of their planned arrival date. It may also help to contact the airport car park to warn them of your delay. Unfortunately, for most normal delays, your airport car park will charge the standard rate for additional hours or days.

Where can I find live flight information?

Dublin airport Live Fights Arrivals and Departure Board

Whether you’re a stress-free flier or a walking disaster, here are 10 things you should never do at an airport.

*Updated January 2019. Prices correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change and/or availability.

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