Delayed flights

Many of us will be familiar with waiting around for a delayed flight and in many cases, you may just have to wait. However, if the hours stretch on, it's worth making sure you know what compensation you’re entitled to.

Before setting off on your trip, check to see what your airline may provide if your flight is delayed. This might include food and drink vouchers while EU regulation may also entitle you to compensation. You can also check to see what level of cover you can expect under any travel insurance policy.

Protection under EU regulation

EU regulation could entitle you to compensation if your flight is delayed by more than two hours. Crucially, the delay must be caused by circumstances within the airlines control, and could include:

  • Technical issues which arise as a result of the air carrier's failure to maintain its aircraft
  • Inadequate turnaround and flight times being allocated to the aircraft due to poor planning by the airline

Circumstances outside of the airline’s control (commonly referred to as ‘extraordinary circumstances’) will not entitle you to compensation. Comprehensive details on what qualifies as an extraordinary circumstance can be found in this helpful list from the European Commission.

If the flight delay is expected to go beyond a certain point, these regulations make sure the airline is obligated to offer you assistance. Anyone travelling with a non-EU based airline flying from a non-EU destination will not receive the same cover. It might be worth familiarising yourself with the airline's Condition of Carriage to see what compensation you could be entitled to should any issues arise. These can usually be found on the airline’s website.

Denied Boarding Regulations

If you're travelling with an airline based in the EU or with a non-EU based airline flying from an EU airport, then you will be protected by the Denied Boarding Regulations.

The Denied Boarding Regulation applies if:

  • You have a confirmed booking
  • You checked in on time
  • You're departing from an EU airport or from a non-EU airport and flying into an EU airport on an airline with its headquarters and main place of business within the EU, including all European discount airlines

Challenging the airline

If you don't agree with an airline's assessment of an 'extraordinary circumstance', for example if you are told you can't fly due to weather conditions while other flights are departing, it could be worth stating your case for compensation. The Civil Aviation Authority can offer further assistance should you feel unfairly treated.

Protection under Sainsbury’s travel insurance

In the event that you decide to abandon your trip after a delay of more than 12 hours in the UK, Sainsbury’s travel insurance will refund the cost of your trip up to the amount shown in your policy documents. This could include accommodation costs and any pre-booked excursions.
Again, conditions do apply and you’ll find the full list in section 5 of the policy documents. For example, you must get written confirmation from the airline detailing the reason for the delay and stating the scheduled and actual department times.

Travel insurance overview

Terms & conditions

In respect of the airport or port being closed, the refunded amount of any unused return travel costs recoverable from your originally booked travel provider or any other source will not be covered.

Travel Insurance is administered by Cigna Insurance Services (Europe) Limited and underwritten by Cigna Europe Insurance Company S.A-N.V. Cigna Insurance Services (Europe) Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Cigna Europe Insurance Company S.A.-N.V. is supervised in Belgium by the National Bank of Belgium and the Financial Services and Markets Authority, and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority.