How to protect your holiday if your flight gets cancelled

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What happened if my flight get cancelled?

Are you faced with a cancelled flight? Don’t panic, it happens more often than you think. Be prepared and know your rights as a passenger.


European legislation offers protection and compensation for passengers in such situations.


This informative article provides you with practical tips on what to do and how to behave in case of a flight cancellation..

What does “cancelled flight” mean?

A cancelled flight is when a passenger’s specific air route is cancelled.


Passengers aren’t entitled to request compensation if the flight is cancelled due to things like bad weather, risks to passenger safety, or political instability in the country of departure or destination.


Because of these special circumstances, the airline can’t be blamed for the damage, so it doesn’t have to pay its passengers back.

What are my rights as a passenger?

As a passenger, it’s important to know your rights in case your flight gets cancelled. If your flight is cancelled, you can either choose to get a refund or get rebooked onto another flight. You have the right to get on the next available flight or one later that works for you.


According to the Community Regulation n. 261 of 2004, entitled “Right to financial compensation”, passengers have the right to receive compensation if their flight is cancelled. The amount of compensation is based on the distance of the flight:


€250 for all flights up to 1500 km

€400 for inter-Community flights over 1500 km and for all other routes between 1500 and 3500 km

€600 for air routes outside the European Union that are over 3500 km.


It’s important to note that if the airline offers an alternative flight that arrives no more than 2 hours after the original arrival time for flights up to 1500 km, 3 hours for inter-Community flights over 1500 km and for all other routes between 1500 and 3500 km, and 4 hours for air routes outside the previous categories, passengers are entitled to half of the compensation.


Passengers are also entitled to assistance if their flight is cancelled, which includes food and drink during the waiting time, a decent hotel if an overnight stay is necessary, transport to and from the airport, and the right to make two phone calls or send emails.

What if I booked through a third party?

If you booked your flight through a third party like a travel agency or tour operator, and your flight is cancelled, you still have the same rights as if you had booked directly with the airline.


The airline is still responsible for providing you with compensation or alternative travel arrangements, depending on the circumstances of the cancellation.


It’s important to know that you should contact the airline directly rather than the third party in this case, as the airline is the one responsible for handling the situation.

What do I do when my flight gets cancelled?

If your flight has been cancelled, the first thing you should do is speak to the airline’s ground staff. You can find them at the airline counter or your plane’s gate.


They will be able to assist you with getting a seat on the next available flight and provide you with food and lodging for the day if the next flight is not on the same day. It’s important to ask any questions you have and ensure you are fully informed of your options.

How do I get a refund?

In the event of a cancelled flight, you may be entitled to a refund. To start the process, keep all relevant documentation, including your ticket, boarding pass, and receipts for any additional expenses incurred due to the cancellation.


Each airline has its own policies for handling complaints and refunds, so it’s best to contact the airline directly through their website as soon as possible. The process usually takes up to 8 weeks to hear back from the airline after filling out an online form.


If you haven’t received a response in eight weeks or more, you can contact the ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) body for further assistance. If your claim is still rejected, you can take your airline to a small claims court to seek compensation.

When can I get a refund?

If your flight is cancelled due to reasons within the airline’s control, such as a crew shortage, mechanical issues, or overbooking, you may be entitled to compensation under Regulation 261/2004/EC.


Pre-departure communicationReplacement flightRight to compensation?
More than two weeks before departurearrival times are irrelevant
7 -14 days before Departs maximum 2 hours before and/or arrives maximum 4 hours later
7 -14 days beforeDeparts more than 2 hours before and/or arrives more than 4 hours later
Less than 7 days before Departs maximum 1 hour before and/or arrives maximum 2 hours later
Less than 7 days beforeDeparts more than 1 hour before and/or arrives more than 2 hours later
Less than 14 days beforeNo replacement flight is offered


The table above shows the scenarios where you are entitled to compensation, based on the timing of the cancellation and the availability of a replacement flight.


It’s important to note that compensation is not available if the cancellation is due to factors beyond the airline’s control, such as extreme weather or political instability.


To claim compensation, you should contact the airline directly and provide all relevant documentation, such as your ticket and receipts for any additional expenses incurred.

How soon can I request a refund?

For most European countries, you have 2 years from the date of the cancelled flight to make a claim.

What’s travel cancellation insurance and how does it work?

Travel cancellation insurance is a policy that provides coverage in case you need to cancel your trip due to unforeseen circumstances. This type of insurance can cover a range of events, including illness or injury, severe weather, natural disasters, or other events beyond your control


To purchase travel cancellation insurance, you typically need to do so before the trip is scheduled to take place. The insurance company will provide you with a policy that outlines the coverage and any exclusions or limitations.


If you need to cancel your trip, you would file a claim with the insurance company and provide documentation of the reason for cancellation. Depending on the policy, the insurance company may provide a full or partial refund of your prepaid travel expenses, such as airfare, hotel reservations, and other costs.


It’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions of any travel cancellation insurance policy you’re considering to make sure you understand what is covered and what is not. Some policies may have specific requirements for cancellation or exclusions for certain types of events.

Trip cancellation insurance: what’s covered

Trip cancellation insurance typically covers expenses that can’t be recovered otherwise due to cancellation. For instance, if you booked a hotel room for a certain period but had to cancel your trip, the insurance may cover the cost if the hotel denies reimbursement.


The amount of reimbursement depends on the policy and contract terms, and it may be for the full or partial amount paid. Deductibles are also an important factor to consider when selecting travel cancellation insurance, as this is the portion of the refund withheld by the insurance company.


The minimum repayment amount is usually in the country’s currency, and the contract specifies the percentage of the total amount that needs to be paid back, but only if it’s greater than the deductible.


Although it’s clear what trip cancellation insurance is for and what it covers, the contract details can be complicated. Therefore, choosing insurance carefully is crucial.

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