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How to Get Compensated for a Delayed Flight

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At some point, we all come across a flight delay or cancellation. While it’s not uncommon for a flight to take off later than scheduled, if you end up waiting hours for the plane to leave, you should know that you have rights.

In many instances, passengers can make a claim to get delayed flight compensation or reimbursement for a cancellation. The thing is, airlines don’t make this information easily available or widely known, so you might not even be aware that you’re entitled to a refund!

Airplane flying through the clouds, compensation for delayed flight

How to Get Compensated for a Delayed Flight in 2022

You should also know that flight delay compensation in the United States differs from the European Union and other countries. Not only that, but the claims process is often long and tedious, which can deter many people.

We usually rely on AirHelp since this company takes care of the entire claims process and gets you the maximum refund available. All you have to do is check that your flight is eligible for a compensation, which you can do here.

If you’re not sure how to file a claim or get compensated for a delayed flight, I’ll explain everything you need to know in this guide:

Delayed flight compensation in the U.S.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), airlines are not required to provide a refund or compensation for flight delays, no matter how late they are. However, if it is a “significant delay,” which DOT determines on a case-by-case basis, passengers may receive a refund for things like checked baggage fees.

Person waiting in an airport lounge, cancelled flight compensation

Delayed flight compensation in the U.S.

Also, each U.S. airline has its own policies for flight delay compensation, so depending on who you fly with, you may receive less or more compensation.

American Airlines delay compensation

The flight delay compensation for American Airlines applies to flights that are delayed more than three hours. You can also claim a refund if your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure. You’ll have to request a refund here.

Delta Airlines delay compensation

Flight delay compensation from Delta is granted on a case-by-case basis. Usually, the airline will place you on the next available flight or give you flight credits to use later. If you’re delayed for 90 minutes or more, you can request a refund or compensation for food, drink, and accommodation here.

United Airlines delay compensation

United’s flight delay compensation entitles you to sufficient food and drink, and two calls if you’re delayed two or more hours. For delays of five or more hours, you can receive compensation for accommodation and transportation in addition to the previous benefits. If your flight is cancelled, you may be eligible for a refund, which you can request here.

Passenger waiting in airport lounge, can i claim if my flight is delayed

Delayed flight compensation in the U.S.

Southwest Airlines delay compensation

Southwest’s compensation for delayed flights is quite strict, but you can always file a claim here, regardless of your ticket type. The most likely form of compensation you’ll receive is a flight voucher.

Alaska Airlines delay compensation

For Alaska Airlines delays over three hours, you’re entitled to sufficient food and drink. If you need to stay at a hotel overnight due to a flight cancellation or delay, you may receive compensation. For more help or to file a claim, submit a request here.

JetBlue Airways delay compensation

JetBlue’s compensation for delayed flights includes several options. You can get seated on the next available flight for free, receive a flight credit, or request a refund here.

Spirit Airlines delay compensation

You can file a claim for compensation for a delayed Spirit flight if the delay is longer than three hours. More specifically, you can request a full refund here, but usually no further compensation.

Air passenger rights in the European Union

Things are a little different regarding airline delay compensation in the European Union. Flights in EU countries are covered by EU261, including flights to the EU from non-EU countries; flights from the EU to non-EU countries, and flights within the EU.

According to EU261, you’re entitled to sufficient meals and two calls or emails if your flight is delayed. For delays five hours or longer, the airline must refund your ticket, and if you missed a connecting flight due to the delay, the airline must provide transportation to the connecting airport.

Passport and boarding pass, flight cancellation and delay

Air passenger rights in the European Union

If the flight delay causes your flight to be scheduled for the next day, you’re entitled to a hotel and transportation to and from the airport.

Airline flight cancellation compensation under EU261 grants you the right to reimbursement and the next available flight, provided you were informed of the cancellation 14 days or less before your flight.

Delayed flight compensation in Europe (EU)

Airlines in the EU are responsible for flight delays that aren’t caused by “extraordinary circumstances” like weather, political strife, airline strikes, and security risks.

Regarding cancelled flight compensation under EU261, a cancellation applies to these circumstances:

  • The original flight was cancelled, and you were assigned to another flight
  • The plane took off but had to return to the departing airport, so you were transferred to another flight
  • The flight arrived at a different airport than the one on your itinerary (unless your ticket applies to rerouting, or the airport is in the same region as the original one)

Below, you’ll find specific guidelines on delayed flight compensation in the EU.

How to claim a delay flight

Delayed flight compensation in Europe (EU)

Compensation for domestic flight delays or cancellations

If you want to claim compensation for a delayed flight in the EU, here is what you’re entitled to according to the duration of the delay:

  • Delays of 2+ hours: sufficient food and drink, two calls or emails, a hotel, and transportation (if you need to spend the night)
  • Delays of 3+ hours: €250 (approx. $250.60) refund for flights under 1,500 km
  • Delays of 5+ hours: full refund and €250 (approx. $250.60) compensation per flight under 1,500 km. If the flight is cancelled, you’ll receive reimbursement and placement on another flight.

Compensation for international flight delays or cancellations

Like domestic flights, compensation for international flight delays and cancellations depends on the kilometers of your trip. You’re entitled to compensation under these guidelines:

  • Delays of 2+ hours for flights under 1,500 km: €250 (approx. $250.60) compensation
  • Delays of 3+ hours for flights within the EU over 1,500 km AND all other flights between 1,500-3,000 km (932-1,864 mi): €400 (approx. $400.84) compensation
  • Delays of 4+ hours for flights over 3,500 km (2,175 mi): €600 (approx. $601.26) compensation
  • Delays of 5+ hours: full refund and the option to board the next available flight.
The full-price reimbursement for delays of 5+ hours does not exempt you from the €250, €400, or €600 refund.

Regardless of how long you’re delayed, you’re entitled to sufficient food and drink, as well as two calls or emails.

Airport help desk, american airlines delays compensation

Compensation for international flight delays or cancellations

Delayed flight compensation for denied boarding due to overbooking

Some airlines deliberately overbook and sell more seats than are available. Unfortunately, this sometimes results in passengers being denied boarding.

If this happens to you, the airline may try to bargain with you by offering travel credits or another flight. However, you can claim delayed EU flight compensation between €250 (approx. $250.60) and €600 (approx. $601.26), as well as coverage for food, drink, accommodation, and transportation.

Rows of airplane seats, delayed flight missed connection compensation

Delayed flight compensation for denied boarding due to overbooking

In the U.S., you may be able to receive a refund for your flight, but it depends on the airline. Compensation is typically double the one-way price of the flight you were bumped from, usually up to $775.

Reimbursement for lost or damaged luggage

If your baggage is lost or damaged and you’re flying with a U.S. airline, you can request compensation for the damage and/or the lost items in your suitcase. Compensation depends on the airline, and you should report the loss or damage before leaving the airport. That said, you have up to 45 days to request compensation.

In the EU, the process is the same, except you only have seven days to make a claim.

How to get compensated for a delayed flight

Now that you know what you’re entitled to, you must know how to properly claim compensation for a delayed flight or cancellation.

In the U.S., you must contact the airline directly, as I mentioned in an earlier section.

If you’re seeking delayed flight reimbursement in the EU, you must make a claim through the airline and through the European Union official website.

In both instances, the process is slow, tedious, and annoying. Fortunately, there are services that can help to streamline the claims process for you, like AirHelp.

AirHelp, cancelled flight claim

Getting flight delay compensation through AirHelp

Our favorite way to claim compensation for a delayed flight is to use AirHelp. They manage the entire process for you, so all you need to do is enter your flight details to check if you’re entitled to a delayed flight refund.

AirHelp Plus dashboard, compensation for delay flight

Getting flight delay compensation through AirHelp

If you are, you can upload copies of the necessary documents right on the AirHelp webpage, things like your plane ticket, identification, and invoice. You’ll get updates from AirHelp throughout the process, and you can file a claim from up to three years ago.

If you’re eligible for flight delay reimbursement, AirHelp will take a percentage of your compensation. So, while this service isn’t free, it saves you a lot of time, energy, and stress, so I think it’s well worth it. You can read more about customer opinions and our review of AirHelp in our guide.

Do credit cards and travel insurance compensate you for delayed or cancelled flights?

If you paid for your flight with a travel credit card, you may be in luck. There are more, but these cards cover accommodation expenses and offer cancelled flight reimbursement in the form of airline miles:

Some travel insurance companies offer flight delay compensation. We’ve been using Heymondo for years, and highly recommend them. Heymondo offers customizable policies that include trip cancellation insurance, COVID coverage, and more.

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One of the advantages of traveling while insured is that you also have medical assistance abroad and your luggage is protected against theft, loss, or damage. So, I consider travel insurance to be essential for complete peace of mind during your trip.

FAQs – Flight cancellation compensation

To wrap up, here are some common questions about claiming compensation for flight delays and cancellations:

In the U.S., it depends on which airline you’re flying with. In the EU, you’re entitled to compensation for canceled flights or delays greater than three hours.

Start by talking to the flight agent and reaching out to the airline. From there, you’ll have to follow the airline’s instructions and submit the proper paperwork.

I recommend using a service like AirHelp since it makes the delayed flight claims process much easier. You’re also more likely to get compensation with AirHelp.

It depends. If you’re in the U.S., the reimbursement amount is up to the airline. In the EU, you may be entitled to up to €600 ($601.26).

It can take hours or days to file a claim since you need to contact the right people, submit all the necessary documents, and explain your reason for making a flight compensation claim.

It can take several months to receive reimbursement for a cancelled flight.

Yes, it’s always worth seeking a refund for a delayed flight or cancellation, especially when it’s not due to extraordinary circumstances.

I hope this guide cleared up any confusion you had about flight delay compensation, and that you feel better prepared to make a claim for reimbursement. Of course, requesting compensation for a cancelled flight or delay is never fun, and it takes a lot of patience, especially if you do it on your own. That’s why we only make claims through AirHelp. We don’t mind paying a percentage of the compensation to avoid the headache of going through the process alone.

If you have any other questions or you’d like to share your experience with claiming flight cancellation reimbursement, please leave me a comment below. Finally, good luck with your claim!

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Hey there, I'm Ascen, your personal trip planner on a mission to help you craft the most incredible adventure of your life. While I'm based in Las Vegas, you won't find me there often. As a full-time traveler, I'm always on the go, exploring new destinations and capturing the world through my lens. From the enchanting shores of Almeria, Spain, where I grew up, to the far reaches of the globe, I'm here to provide you with detailed travel guides and practical tips to make your trip planning a breeze. Find out more about me here.
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