What should you do if your flight was cancelled or delayed?

Many passengers and airlines are often faced with cancelled or delayed flights. But most tourists do not know or do not understand what to do in this situation, where to run, whom to contact. 

Today we will talk about how to legally defend your rights in such situations.

Use the tips below to easily get out of unpleasant situations that can happen during your trip. 

How to determine a party responsible for a delayed flight or lost luggage?

First of all, you need to understand who to blame for this situation: the airline, the tour operator or the travel agent? This will help you to properly arrange your next steps.

The travel agent does not arrange a tour. It buys tour programs from the tour operator and distributes them. That is, a travel agent implements the tour, which wasn’t arranged by him, but by a tour operator. A travel agent is a kind of a middleman between the “producer” and the “consumer”, who also knows all the details of the trip.


If the flight ticket is included in the price of the trip, which was bought from the tour operator, the tour operator is responsible for failure to fulfill its obligations under the agreement. That is, the tour operator is responsible for such situation.

But! If the luggage was lost or the ticket was purchased directly from the airline, the responsible party will be the airline.

And the basic rule: Money shall be refunded by a party to whom the passenger has paid for the ticket.

What to do if you were informed of the flight cancellation in advance?

You may receive a text message or e-mail from the airline about the flight cancellation. In this case, you can choose whether to re-route your flight or to request a refund. 

The notification often contains a link to a website where you can find an alternative flight.

Please note! The new ticket shall differ only in dates and number of transfers. The price shall remain the same!

If you do not like the options offered to you - you can safely return the ticket for a refund.

What to do if your flight is canceled or delayed and you are already at the airport?     

Just like in the previous situation - you can re-route your flight or request a refund.

If you decide to wait for a delayed flight, the airline employee, at your request, must put a stamp on your boarding pass, which confirms the fact of the delay. The same should be done if you want to arrange a refund. 

In this case, additional evidence in your favor will be a photo of the arrival and departure board with such remarks as delayed or cancelled, a photo of the airline’s website.

How to return a ticket for a refund in case of a connecting flight?

If your transfer flight route is arranged with a single ticket, it’s easier to request a refund of the entire ticket cost. If the flight consists of several parts, the process is a little more complicated. 

If several flights are arranged with a single ticket, but one of the flights was delayed or cancelled, you are entitled to: 

  1. Get your money back for the portion of the flight that was cancelled/delayed; 
  2. Choose another flight; 
  3. Get a return flight to your original departure point. 

All three conditions must be met.

If you have paid separately for each flight, the money will be returned only for the cancelled flight.

To get a refund, you should fill in an application form which can be sent by e-mail (specify your name, passport, flight, ticket, phone number, card details). We can tell you what you should attach to the application to make it more convincing in each specific situation.

How to receive a delayed flight compensation?

In order to receive a delayed flight compensation, you must submit an application and supporting documents to the airline. You can personally deliver the package of documents or sent it by post.

Based on our experience, we can say that it is better to send the package of documents by post, as you will get a receipt, a direct confirmation of sending the application. Why do you need it? You may need it in court if the airline claims that it has not received any notification from you.

Please note! No compensation will be paid if you have been informed of the flight delay more than fourteen days in advance (you will get a refund only for the flight ticket).

What is the amount of compensation for the delayed flight?

If you were informed of the flight cancellation less than 14 days prior to departure, you are entitled to a compensatory claim of €250-600, depending on the flight distance. The airline must refund you within seven days.

When determining the amount of compensation, the following factors are taken into account: 

  • the time of notification about a flight cancellation or delay;
  • whether another route has been proposed; 
  • flight distance.

Please note! If you use a proposed alternative flight and arrive at your destination within 2-4 hours of the planned time, the airline can reduce the compensation by 50%.

If your vacation days were lost due to the delay and the price of the tickets were included in the price of the package tour, you can apply to court for the ticket price recalculation, as well as for recovery for moral damages.

In what circumstances are you entitled to a flight refund?

The airline shall not refund the ticket price if the flight was cancelled or delayed due to bad weather conditions, war, natural disaster or other unforeseen circumstances. 

If your flight was cancelled due to the bad weather conditions, but you want to make sure that there was really a reason for the flight cancellation, you can check information  on the METAR website (METeorological Aerodrome Reports). It is used to assess the weather conditions for flights.

The European Court of Justice has added an additional interpretation of the concept of force majeure. For example, the CJEU C-257/14 Van der Lans case proves that technical defects in  aircrafts shall not be considered to be force majeure (unless it is a manufacturing error). Thus, such circumstances do not release the airline from the obligation to pay compensation to you.

In order to resolve the issue of compensation, it is worth applying to the national services with a claim or complaint. In Ukraine such authority is the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine. It, in turn, conducts an investigation, after which the case can be transferred to the court. 

Of course, both the application to the State Aviation Administration and the claim to the court should be properly drafted and have a clear legal basis, otherwise the airline’s in-house lawyer (and even the smallest airline has its in-house lawyer) can easily turn the case in their favor.

What additional services shall the airline provide to the passengers in case of flight delay or cancellation?

After two hours waiting time, the airline must:

  • Provide means of communication.
  • Provide a mother-and-child room.
  • Ensure stowing of your luggage.

After four hours waiting time, the airline must:

  • Provide hot meals for free, as well as food every six hours during the day and every eight hours at night.

After eight hours waiting time, the airline must:

  • Provide a passenger with a hotel room, free transport to and from the hotel (which is very important if you’re in a foreign country).

What to do if you’re late for a connecting flight?

If you miss a connecting flight due to the initial flight cancellation, the airline must refund you the price of both tickets or offer you an alternative flight.

In addition, if you hadn’t reached your final destination on time, which prevented you from getting to an important meeting or event on time, you are entitled to compensation for moral harm. But it is worth remembering that in this case, you should present evidence. 

You must react immediately in such situations. The best option is to call a lawyer or an attorney, who will tell you what evidence will be useful in this case. 

How to be better prepared when dealing with the airline?

When you book a ticket, take an extra 10 minutes and check out the rules published on the airline’s website. This will help you to learn your rights in advance. 

If you purchased a ticket, you have automatically agreed to all the terms and conditions, even if you didn’t read them. These rules contain all the unforeseen circumstances and refund conditions.

We also recommend that you always print out an e-ticket (or any other confirmation) and take it with you. This will help you to take advantage of the other flight offered or to get a refund for your ticket, if you need to confirm your reservation.

If you are having problems and do not know what to do in situations of extreme urgency, don’t hesitate to contact our specialists. 

We can take care of your rights and get the compensation you deserve.

Publication date: 19/12/2019

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