Can I get flight delay compensation? These are the ways you qualify

Melissa Klurman

Editor's Note

It's one of the most frustrating parts of travel. You book your flight, pack your bags and get ready for your trip. Then, right before you're set to fly, your flight is delayed — or worse, canceled.

You're stuck trying to salvage plans and figure out the best way to proceed, possibly missing airline connections, special plans, hotel reservations and more.

It feels like someone should pay you for all of this extra work and grief, right?

Ideally, the time-equals-money philosophy would be put into action in the case of delays. As with many things related to air travel rules, it's never quite as straightforward as we think it should be.

Here's what you need to know about qualifying for and receiving flight delay compensation.

What is flight delay compensation?

At its core, flight delay compensation repays you for lost time. Ideally, it holds airlines responsible for getting you to your destination within a set time frame. If they can't meet the minimum requirements for carriage, they would provide compensation, or financial repayment, for your time.

In Europe, one standard law provides for this type of financial restitution for delays and canceled flights, and it's very transparent and easy to understand. In the U.S., individual airlines set thresholds that are much less clear.

Related: Your flight is canceled or delayed – here's what you should do next

Flight delay compensation for international flights

Within the European Union, there are existing regulations that provide monetary relief to passengers for flights affected by delays and or cancellations, thanks to a 2005 regulation known as EU261.

If you are delayed three or more hours, you are entitled to compensation (see the chart below) unless the delay was caused by "extraordinary circumstances." These circumstances include weather, political strife, air traffic control decisions that are out of the airline's control and security risks.

Things like mechanical and technical problems are not extraordinary circumstances. However, airline strikes, for example, may be considered an extraordinary circumstance.

As a result, airlines have shelled out hundreds of millions of euros to passengers inconvenienced by delayed flights.

Since its inception, Europe has broadened this rule to apply to domestic connecting flights originating in the EU. This means flights within the EU, flights departing from the EU to the U.S. (and other countries) and even the connecting flights you book within the U.S. are eligible for compensation.

Depending on how long you're delayed, there are clear reimbursements you are entitled to receive:

Note that any compensation may be reduced by half if you accept a reroute from the airline to your final destination.

Related: TPG's guide to understanding EU261 flight compensation

Flight delay compensation for domestic flights

Unlike the European Union, the U.S. does not have one central tenet that directs how airlines should compensate passengers in the case of a delay.

"There are no federal laws requiring airlines to provide passengers with money or other compensation when their flights are delayed. Each airline has its own policies about what it will do for delayed passengers," is the official word from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

However, the DOT is making strides toward creating more transparency in the industry regarding this issue. As part of this, it's sought to hold airlines accountable for compensating passengers.

Travelers are already entitled to refunds for flights canceled by the airline and flights that are significantly delayed or changed after booking.

Until relatively recently, however, the DOT didn't define what constitutes a "significant" delay or change, leaving it to airlines to voluntarily self-regulate. In some cases, this resulted in airlines having extensive rolling delays of a flight rather than canceling it.

Now, the DOT has defined language and timing so that a "significant delay" would be defined as one that affects the departure or arrival time of a domestic flight by three hours or more (or by at least six hours for an international flight).

A "significant change" would include one that changes the departure or arrival airport or adds more connections to an itinerary than what was originally booked.

Interestingly, it would also include changes to the aircraft type "if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities available onboard the flight."

Last year, the department unveiled its airline customer service dashboard — a tool that shows how the top 10 largest U.S. carriers will accommodate passengers in the event of a delay or cancellation that is within the airline's control.

For example, all 10 airlines will provide meal vouchers when a cancellation results in a wait of three hours or more for a new flight. All but Frontier Airlines will also provide complimentary hotel accommodations for passengers affected by an overnight cancellation. However, none of the 10, according to the DOT website, will provide cash compensation if a cancellation results in a passenger waiting for three hours or more from the scheduled departure time.

Note that the dashboard only provides information about amenities airlines provide when the delay is within their control. Many delays, however, are outside of the airline's control — for example, weather or air traffic control issues. Airlines generally provide little to nothing if a flight is delayed or canceled for those issues.

The DOT hopes the dashboard will become a resource for consumers to consider when they choose an airline.

Related: All the airlines' flight delay and compensation policies from DOT's customer service dashboard

travel compensation for delayed flights

What happens when I miss a connecting flight due to a delay?

Unfortunately, in the U.S., there is no overall policy governing delays. If you miss your connecting flight, contact your airline immediately either in person at the help desk, on the phone (usually a quicker option) or through the app. Or, if you have lounge access, head there first to talk to an agent, usually without a line.

The airline should work with you to place you on the next available flight. This may include putting you on another carrier. If you need to stay overnight, ask the airline for hotel and food vouchers.

After you return home, contact the airline about delay compensation.

Many travel credit cards include trip delay, interruption and cancellation benefits that protect you when flights go wrong. When you know that your flight will be affected, contact the issuer of the card that you purchased the ticket with to determine your options (see below).

Related: Missed your flight? Here's what to do

What credit cards offer flight delay compensation?

Trip delay reimbursement is a benefit that will compensate you for expenses that aren't reimbursed by your transportation carrier. Cards reference "common carriers" for this coverage, which typically means forms of public transportation with published schedules on which you bought tickets — think air trips, not road trips, for this category.

While airlines may provide hotel rooms and food vouchers for overnight delays that are under their control, such as maintenance issues, they typically won't provide support for things like weather delays. Moreover, what an airline provides may not cover all of your expenses. This is where trip delay reimbursement can help you.

Here are some cards that are among the best for trip delay reimbursement. It's important to note that the specific terms can vary from card to card (or issuer to issuer).

Also worth noting is that depending on the card, you must have a delay of six or 12 hours to qualify, which we note: Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (six hours); Chase Sapphire Reserve (six hours) and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (12 hours or overnight); The Platinum Card® from American Express * (six hours); Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card * (six hours); Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express Card® * (six hours); Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card (12 hours or overnight); World of Hyatt Credit Card (12 hours or overnight); United Club Infinite Card and United Explorer Card (12 hours or overnight).

* Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company .

Related: Flight delayed? Remember these 4 things if you want trip delay reimbursement from your credit card

How to apply for flight delay compensation

Don't delay in requesting your compensation. In the EU, individual countries set deadlines, and they can vary wildly. The deadline to file a claim is not based on your citizenship, where you live or your destination but instead the location of the headquarters of the airline you flew.

You can generally find instructions on how to submit a claim on a carrier's website. However, if you have trouble finding that information, you can also print and complete the Air Passenger Rights EU Complaint form and submit it to the airline directly.

In the U.S., it's also best to ask for compensation soon after your disrupted flight. Domestic carriers are not obligated by law to offer financial compensation for delays. However, many do have policies — which you can find on the DOT dashboard — that provide some financial restitution for long delays.

Be sure to keep a copy of your flight information, including your ticket number, for the compensation request.

Bottom line

Although there is no consistent policy across the board for delay compensation, there are a number of ways you may be able to get financial compensation if your flight is significantly delayed.

In Europe, for delays of more than three hours, you may be eligible for compensation under EU261. In the U.S., check the DOT's dashboard to see if your carrier will compensate you for your delay.

If you can't get financial compensation that way, check with your credit card issuer to see if it provides trip delay reimbursement.

Related reading:

  • When is the best time to book flights for the cheapest airfare?
  • The best airline credit cards
  • What exactly are airline miles, anyway?
  • 6 real-life strategies you can use when your flight is canceled or delayed
  • Maximize your airfare: The best credit cards for booking flights
  • The best credit cards to reach elite status
  • What are points and miles worth? TPG's monthly valuations

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply.

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology .

How To Get Compensation When Your Flight Is Delayed or Canceled [2024]

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How To Get Compensation When Your Flight Is Delayed or Canceled [2024]

Credit Cards That Offer Compensation or Insurance

Delayed and canceled flights, overbooking, baggage damage, delays, and loss, denied boarding, canceled flights, delayed flight, lost, damaged, or delayed luggage, middle east, africa, or asia flights, u.s. domestic and international flights, eu departing or domestic flights, final thoughts.

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Flight delays and cancellations are regular occurrences in air travel. When one or the other happens, it’s important to understand your rights and what compensation you are entitled to as a result of a delay or cancellation.

The U.S. and European Union (EU) have different regulations and policies regarding delays and cancellations for passengers on flights to/from/within their respective countries. When you read through the U.S. and EU guidelines, you’ll notice that air travel involving the EU offers more passenger protection than what’s available in the U.S.

This article will outline when you’re entitled to compensation as a passenger, what rights you have, and credit cards that provide travel coverage when flight issues occur.

Paying for flights or just the taxes and fees on award flights with the right credit card can alleviate many of the problems noted above.

Rewards cards are a powerful resource to ensure you’re compensated fairly for problems that occur both within and outside of the airline’s control.

Hot Tip: We recommend digging into this in-depth article on credit cards with trip cancellation and interruption coverage to see which card would suit you best.

We recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred ® Card  because if your trip is canceled for a covered reason, you or a covered immediate family member could be reimbursed for the non-refundable amount of your trip . The limit for each coverage is  $10,000 per occurrence .

Some of our top picks for trip delay insurance also offer up to $500 if your trip is delayed by more than 6 hours:

  • The Business Platinum Card ® from American Express
  • Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve ®
  • Delta SkyMiles ® Reserve American Express Card
  • Delta SkyMiles ® Reserve Business American Express Card
  • The Platinum Card ® from American Express

Aviation Consumer Protection

Unlike the EU, the U.S. does not have an umbrella regulation protecting passengers with flight issues. While you don’t have as much protection in the U.S. as with the EU, the U.S. Department of Transportation ( DOT ) does provide compensation in some instances including:

  • Delayed and canceled flights
  • Baggage damage, delays, and loss

Delays or Cancellations that Don’t Require Compensation

Bad weather, air traffic delays, and mechanical issues can be difficult to predict and sometimes outside of the control of the airline. With that said, passengers are not required to be compensated by the airline if your flight is delayed or canceled for these bad weather, air traffic delays, or mechanical issues.

If you find yourself with a delayed flight due to one of these reasons, ask the original airline if it will pay for a ticket on another airline. The DOT does not require the airline to offer compensation, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

With no federal compensation requirement for delayed passengers, refer to the policies of the operating airline to determine what compensation the airline will offer. If a significant delay occurs, ask the airline if it will compensate you for meals during the delay.

If the airline doesn’t immediately offer you compensation for your meals or expenses incurred during the delay, you may be able to get reimbursed for expenses incurred under Article 19 of the Montreal Convention by filing a claim with the airline. If that claim is denied, you could also pursue reimbursement in court.

For travelers with a canceled flight, the airline should re-book you on its first flight with available space to your destination at no additional charge. If the rebooked flight requires a significant delay, ask the original airline if it will pay for a ticket on another airline.

Flights From/In Europe Delayed? If you’ve been flying within Europe, or have departed from the EU to the U.S (and other countries), you could receive up to $700 in compensation. AirHelp can help you with all of the paperwork to get your compensation. (This service cannot help you with delays within the U.S.) 

Tarmac Delays

Another situation that may arise that does not require compensation is a tarmac delay on a domestic flight. These can occur before taking off or after landing.

The DOT prohibits most U.S. airlines from remaining on the tarmac for more than 3 hours unless one of the following occurs:

  • A safety or security risk occurs and the pilot determines the aircraft cannot taxi to the gate and deplane its passengers
  • Air traffic control determines that there would be significant interruptions in airport operations if it allowed the pilot to taxi to the gate or another location to deplane passengers

If you experience a tarmac delay on an international flight operated by a U.S. airline, the DOT time limits do not apply. Any time limits and/or corresponding protocols are set by the airlines.

U.S. airlines must provide passengers on domestic and international flights with food and water no later than 2 hours after a tarmac delay begins. The airline is required to keep the lavatories operable and medical attention must be available.

Woman Stressed with Luggage

Overbooking is a strategy airlines use to ensure a full flight and accounts for passenger “no-shows.” When a flight is overbooked, the DOT requires airlines to compensate for voluntary and involuntary bumped passengers.

To better understand these definitions:

  • Voluntary bumping is when an airline asks passengers to voluntarily give up their seats in exchange for compensation
  • Involuntary bumping is when an airline bumps passengers against their will but still compensates the passengers

Voluntary Bumping

The DOT requires airlines to ask passengers if they are willing to give up their seats in exchange for compensation before involuntarily bumping passengers. If you agree to be voluntarily be bumped, the airline will book you on a later flight and will likely provide compensation in the form of vouchers.

Before agreeing to be bumped, ask the airline the following questions to ensure you know what you’re agreeing to:

  • When is the next flight that the airline is confirming your seat on?
  • Will the airline provide free meals, a hotel room, and/or transportation between the hotel and the airport to cover your costs incurred by agreeing to take a later flight?

It’s important to ask these questions because there is not a standard form or amount of compensation that the DOT mandates . Airlines have the flexibility to negotiate with prospective volunteers so you should know what you’re agreeing to before giving up your seat. If the airline offers a free flight or free transportation as compensation, ask if there are any restrictions when redeeming these forms of compensation .

Involuntary Bumping

If you are involuntarily bumped, the DOT requires each airline to compensate involuntarily bumped passengers via check or cash. The amount you receive from the airline depends on the price of the ticket you purchased and the length of the delay.

Update: As of April 13, 2021, a new DOT ruling took effect that indicates that passengers may not be involuntarily bumped once their “boarding pass has been collected or scanned and the passenger has boarded.”

The amount you will be compensation is determined by the following factors:

  • If you arrive at your destination within 1 hour of your original scheduled arrival time, you will not be compensated
  • If you arrive at your destination between 1 to 2 hours after your original arrival time, you will be compensated for 200% of your one-way ticket price or a $775 maximum
  • If you arrive at your domestic destination 2+ hours later than your original arrival time, international destination 4+ hours later than your original arrival time, or if the airline does not make substitute travel arrangements for you, you will be compensated for 400% of your one-way ticket price or a $1,550 maximum
  • If you’re on an award flight or bought a ticket through a consolidator, you will be compensated for the price of your same fare class for your flight
  • If you deny the airline’s rebooking flight and choose to book your own flight, you will be compensated for the price of the ticket you purchased
  • If you paid additional charges for seats, checked baggage, Wi-Fi, etc., and did not receive those services on your rebooked flight or were required to pay for those services again, you will be compensated for the price of those optional services

Unfortunately, there are conditions and exceptions to the compensation rules above. You will not be compensated if:

  • You do not have a confirmed reservation
  • You miss your check-in deadline
  • The airline must substitute a smaller plane than the one you booked
  • The flight has 30 to 60 seats and bumps you due to safety-related aircraft weight or balance constraints
  • You booked a chartered flight and are bumped
  • You booked a flight with fewer than 30 seats
  • You booked an international flight inbound to the U.S.

Lastly, if being bumped costs you more money than the airline will pay you at the airport, you can try to negotiate a higher reimbursement with the airline’s complaint department. If you decline the compensation and are unable to receive higher compensation from the airline’s complaint department, you can take the airline to court.

Lost baggage

It’s happened to us all — your bag is damaged, delayed, or even lost. While this is frustrating, it’s helpful to know how you can be compensated when one of the following occurs to your luggage:

Damaged Bags

The following situations are likely to result in compensation for your damaged luggage:

  • If your luggage is smashed or torn, the airline will typically pay to repair the luggage
  • If the smashed or torn luggage can’t be repaired, the airline will negotiate a settlement to pay you the depreciated value of your luggage
  • If items inside your luggage are damaged as a result of the airline’s negligence, the airline might be liable for those damages

Delayed Bags

The following situations may result in compensation if your bags are delayed:

  • If your luggage is delayed and you incur expenses for items that are missing, you will have to negotiate with the airline to pay for what you and the airline agree are “reasonable expenses”
  • If the airline does not provide you a cash advance, it may still reimburse you later for the purchase of necessities
  • If sporting equipment is delayed, the airline will sometimes pay for the rental of replacement equipment
  • If clothing or other articles are delayed, the airline might offer to compensate you for only a portion of the purchase cost
  • If an emergency situation occurs, most airlines have guidelines that allow their airport employees to compensate you for emergency purchases
  • If food or perishable goods are ruined as a result of your luggage being delayed, the airline will not reimburse you

It’s important to keep in mind that if the airline is found liable for consequential damages, the airline’s liability limit is currently $3,500 per passenger on domestic flights and approximately $1,545 for international round-trip flights that originate in the U.S.

If your luggage is lost, you should submit a claim to initiate the compensation negotiation process. In the situation where you flew 2 airlines involving a connection, the final airline is traditionally responsible for processing your claim.

When you start the claims process, keep in mind that the airline is not required to pay you the full amount on your claim.

The claims process follows this generally timeline:

  • First, the airline will use the information on your claims form to estimate the value of your lost belongings (up to a maximum of $3,500). It will determine the depreciated value of your belongings, not their original price or the replacement costs.
  • Next, the airline will take between 4 weeks to 3 months to compensate you for your lost luggage.
  • Lastly, the airline will pay you a settlement in the form of a cash payment or a free airline ticket in an amount that may be greater than the cash payment.

Bottom Line: Every passenger’s situation is unique. If you find that your flight is canceled or delayed, your bag has been damaged, delayed, or lost, or the flight is overbooked, we recommend that you read the DOT’s Consumer Guide to Air Travel to familiarize yourself with the rules. 

European Country Post

EU Legislation 261/2004 is the regulation you’ll turn to with issues traveling to/from/within the EU. The regulation establishes rules and a compensation structure for passengers who experience travel issues like denied boarding or flight delays.

As a passenger on flights to/from/within the EU, the passenger rights apply if:

  • Your flight is within the EU and operated by an EU or non-EU airline
  • Your flight arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline
  • Your flight departs from the EU to a non-EU country operated by an EU or a non-EU airline

The EU covers 27 countries , including special territories like the Azores and the Canary Islands and several non-EU European countries like Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

If you experience flight issues to/from/within the EU, the EU passenger rights do not apply if:

  • Your flight arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by a non-EU airline
  • You have received benefits for flight-related problems under the laws of a non-EU country

Speaking of Europe, check out the best ways to fly to Europe with points and miles .

Need To Make a Claim? You could get up to $700 in compensation for a flight delay or cancellation.

If you arrive at your flight on time with the correct boarding documents, but you’re denied boarding due to overbooking or operational reasons and you don’t voluntarily give up your seat, you are entitled to all of the following:

  • Compensation
  • A choice between rerouting, reimbursement, or rebooking

Compensation for denied boarding is as follows:

  • For flights less than 1,500 kilometers: €250 (~$300)
  • For flights more than 1,500 kilometers within the EU: €400 (~$475)
  • For flights between 1,500 and 3,000 kilometers: €400 (~$475)
  • For flights over 3,000 kilometers: €600 (~$715)

It’s important to know that your compensation may be reduced by 50% if you are rerouted by the airline and arrive at your destination within 2 to 4 hours of your originally scheduled arrival. However, if you meet the qualifications above, you should always receive compensation.

Hot Tip: The airline must also offer compensation in the case of a missed flight connection — for example, if the airline denied you boarding on your first flight, causing you to miss your second flight.

If you are connecting on a different airline, airlines are not required to provide compensation if a delay on the first flight causes you to miss your connection. However, if your first flight is delayed for more than 3 hours, you may be entitled to compensation from the airline that caused the delay.

In addition to compensation, the airline must offer you a choice between:

  • Reimbursement of your ticket and a return flight to your departure airport if you have a connecting flight
  • Rerouting to your final destination
  • Rerouting at a later date under comparable transportation conditions

Once you have chosen the option that is best for you, you no longer have rights to the other 2 options. However, the airline may still be required to compensate you:

  • If the airline does not provide rerouting or comparable return transportation to your departure airport, the airline is required to reimburse your flight cost
  • If the airline unilaterally reimburses your flight cost and does not offer a choice between reimbursement or rerouting, you are entitled to the price difference of the new flight cost
  • If you booked separate outbound and inbound flights with different airlines and the outbound flight is canceled, you will only be reimbursed for the cost of the canceled flight

If the outbound and return flights are operated by different airlines but part of the same reservation and the outbound flight was canceled, you have the right to compensation and  choice between:

  • Reimbursement of your entire ticket
  • Rerouting on another flight for the outbound flight.

Assistance is another item you are entitled if you’re denied boarding. “Assistance” provided by the airline includes:

  • Refreshments
  • Accommodation if your flight requires an overnight stay
  • Transportation to/from your accommodation
  • 2 phone calls, text messages, or emails

If the airline does not provide assistance and you pay for these expenses out-of-pocket, the airline is required to reimburse you as long as the expenses were necessary, reasonable, and appropriate.

Hot Tip: If the airline doesn’t pay your out-of-pocket expenses for assistance items directly, consider using the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. This credit card earns 5x points on air travel and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel and 3x points on other travel and dining purchases . Since the airline is required to reimburse you, not only will you be reimbursed, but you’ll also earn 3x points on those purchases.

When a flight cancellation occurs, you are entitled to the same 3 rights as if you were denied boarding:

The airline is required to compensate you for a canceled flight if you were notified less than 14 days before your original scheduled departure date. However, compensation is not required if the airline proves that extraordinary circumstances (e.g., weather) caused the cancellation.

Here’s yet another wrinkle! If your flight is canceled, you are not entitled to compensation if:

  • You are informed more than 14 days in advance
  • Depart no more than 2 hours before the originally scheduled departure time, and
  • Reach your final destination less than 4 hours after the originally scheduled arrival time
  • Depart no more than 1 hour before the originally scheduled departure time, and
  • Reach your final destination less than 2 hours after the originally scheduled arrival time

When a flight delay occurs, you are entitled to assistance and a choice between rerouting, reimbursement, or rebooking.

If you arrive at your destination more than 3 hours after your scheduled arrival time, you are entitled to the same reimbursement, rerouting, and rebooking structure as a denied boarding.

Hot Tip: Before you get stranded in the airport with a delayed/canceled flight, consider applying for a credit card with lounge access like the Amex Business Platinum card or the Amex Platinum card.

If the luggage you checked is lost, damaged, or delayed, you are entitled up to €1,300 (~$1,550) in compensation from the airline. However, if the damage was caused by a product defect, you are not entitled to compensation.

The airline is also responsible for any damage it caused to your carry-on item.

If you decide to file a claim for your luggage, do so in writing to the airline within 7 days or within 21 days if your luggage was delayed in getting back to you. You need to file the claim directly with the airline, as there is no standard EU form to use.

Airlines that operate out of the Middle East (like Etihad Airways, Emirates, and Qatar Airways), Africa (like Ethiopian or South African Airways), or Asia (like ANA, Cathay Pacific, or Singapore Airlines) are not required to compensate passengers like the airlines regulated by the DOT and EU.

With that said, consider using a company like AirHelp or Service to receive compensation. Each company has pros and cons, so research each company to determine which 1 aligns best with your needs.

How To File a Complaint

Signing a contract

Filing a claim depends on your specific situation, which is why it’s important to read through the U.S. rights and  EU rights .

If you find yourself in a situation needing to request compensation, follow these steps:

  • First, start with the airline agents at the airport. The airline agents should help provide you with your rights and the process to file for compensation.
  • Next, reach out to the airline’s social media team to explain your situation. Airlines have social media teams ready to respond and react when the airline is mentioned. Some airlines are more responsive than others, so don’t lose hope if the airline isn’t quick to respond. Passengers have noted that Twitter seems to be the social media platform most utilized by airlines.
  • Last, contact the claims department of the airline from which you purchased your ticket. Explain your situation and ask the department what the process is to submit a claim for reimbursement.

The EU provides more protections for its passengers. If you need to file a claim for reimbursement, follow these steps:

  • First, file a complaint with the airline using the EU-wide air passenger rights complaint form .
  • You don’t receive a reply from the airline within 2 months
  • You are not satisfied with the reply from the airline and feel that your EU air passenger rights were not respected
  • Third, file a dispute via an out-of-court procedure or an alternative dispute resolution . If you bought your ticket online, you can submit your complaint via Online Dispute Resolution . Alternative dispute resolution and Online Dispute Resolution are only open to EU residents.
  • Lastly, file a claim for compensation in the European Small Claims court in the country where the incident occurred.

For help and advice related to your rights, contact your local European Consumer Center .

Understanding your rights as a passenger is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you’re compensated fairly. Reading through the applicable policies can be very beneficial since passengers’ rights on EU vs. U.S. flights are significantly different.

Credit cards can also be an important component of your compensation strategy. Taking advantage of 3-hour delay reimbursements will save you money, time, and a headache.

Though delays are always frustrating, knowing that out-of-pocket expenses will be covered can make the problem seem much more manageable.

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How to Get Compensated if Your Flight is Delayed or Cancelled

For the trip delay insurance benefits of the Delta SkyMiles ® Reserve American Express Card, up to $500 per covered trip that is delayed for more than 6 hours; and 2 claims per eligible card per 12 consecutive month period. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. For the cell phone protection benefit of the Delta SkyMiles ® Reserve American Express Card, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. For the extended warranty and purchase protection benefits of the Delta SkyMiles ® Reserve American Express Card, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. 

For the trip delay insurance benefits of the Delta SkyMiles ® Reserve Business American Express Card, up to $500 per covered trip that is delayed for more than 6 hours; and 2 claims per eligible card per 12 consecutive month period. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. For the cell phone protection benefit of the Delta SkyMiles ® Reserve Business American Express Card, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. For the extended warranty and purchase protection benefits of the Delta SkyMiles ® Reserve Business American Express Card, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. 

For the trip delay insurance benefits of The Business Platinum Card ® from American Express, up to $500 per covered trip that is delayed for more than 6 hours; and 2 claims per eligible card per 12 consecutive month period. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. For the cell phone protection benefit of The Business Platinum Card ® from American Express, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. For the extended warranty and purchase protection benefits of The Business Platinum Card ® from American Express, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. 

For the trip delay insurance benefits of The Platinum Card ® from American Express, up to $500 per covered trip that is delayed for more than 6 hours; and 2 claims per eligible card per 12 consecutive month period. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. For the cell phone protection benefit of The Platinum Card ® from American Express, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. For the extended warranty and purchase protection benefits of The Platinum Card ® from American Express, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/ benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. 

The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card ® from American Express, click here . For rates and fees of Delta SkyMiles ® Reserve American Express Card, click here . For rates and fees for the Delta SkyMiles ® Reserve Business American Express Card, click here . For rates and fees of The Platinum Card ® from American Express, click here .

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a flight have to be delayed for compensation.

For flights to/from/within the EU, if you arrive at your destination more than 3 hours after your scheduled arrival time, you are entitled to the same reimbursement, rerouting, and rebooking structure as a denied boarding. For flights within the U.S., if you are delayed on the tarmac for more than 3 hours, you are entitled to compensation per the DOT guidelines.

Can I claim for delayed luggage?

For flights to/from/within the EU, if the luggage you checked is lost, damaged, or delayed, you are entitled up to €1,300 (~$1,550) in compensation from the airline. For flights within the US, the airline has a liability limit of $3,500 (adjusted every 2 years for inflation) for baggage that is delayed, damaged, or lost on domestic flights.

What happens if you miss a connecting flight because of a delay?

For flights to/from/within the EU, if you arrive at your destination due to a missed connection more than 3 hours after your scheduled arrival time, you are entitled to the same reimbursement, rerouting, and rebooking structure as a denied boarding. For flights within the U.S., if your delay on the tarmac causes you to miss a connection that results in you arriving at your destination more than 3 hours after your original arrival time, you are entitled to compensation per the DOT guidelines. For non-tarmac caused delays, the compensation rules are set by each airline.

What do I do if my flight is canceled?

For flights to/from/within the EU, when a flight cancellation occurs, you are entitled to the same 3 rights as if you were denied boarding:

For flights within the U.S., when a flight cancellation occurs, each airline sets its own compensation rules.

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About Michael McHugh

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Michael took his first international trip in 2013 with friends to the Bahamas. Although he didn’t travel much in his younger years, on that trip, he caught the travel bug and has been hooked ever since.

Michael first caught wind of the points and miles game in 2014 while at a bar in Washington, DC where the conversation amongst friends was quickly derailed because of an alert on a friend’s phone about a mistake fare.  That’s where the love affair with points and miles began.

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Flight delay compensation: Here are your rights by each major US airline

travel compensation for delayed flights

  • Department of Transportation rules around delays of U.S. are murky.
  • There's no official requirement for passengers to receive a refund or reimbursement in a result of a flight delay.
  • Here's what each of the major carriers said they do in the event of a significant delay.

Thousands of passengers were stranded at airports around the country in the last few weeks as airlines, particularly United , dealt with the fallout from staffing shortfalls among air traffic controllers and summer storms in the Northeast. Confusingly for many passengers, the severe delays and cancellations didn't necessarily entitle them to compensation from the airlines, because weather and air traffic control delays are seen by the Department of Transportation as largely out of carriers' control.

That doesn't mean airlines can't voluntarily give passengers compensation in those cases, but it's essentially at the airlines' discretion.

What are you entitled to if your flight is delayed? 

U.S. airlines are required by the DOT to give passengers refunds if their flights are outright canceled, but the rules around delays are a little murkier.

There's no official requirement for passengers to receive a refund or reimbursement as a result of a flight delay, though the DOT's delay and cancellation dashboard can help travelers better understand what they're entitled to.

Summer travel headaches: What airlines owe you when flights are canceled, delayed

"DOT has not specifically defined 'significant delay,' " the site says. "Whether you are entitled to a refund depends on a lot of factors – such as the length of the delay, the length of the flight, and your particular circumstances."

The rules are different – and more traveler-friendly – in Europe, where laws require airlines to compensate passengers at least 250 euros for delays of three hours or more, and up to 600 euros for longer delays on long-distance flights. Domestic flights in the U.S. have few protections if something goes wrong. For the most part, it's up to individual airlines to decide how to compensate their passengers after a delay.

Traveling to Europe?: Pack clean underwear in your carry-on

“There’s no specific policy on compensations," said Shaiy Howard, president and CEO of Travel by Shaiy, a travel agency based in South Florida. "Just keep in mind that all airlines vary. When you purchase your airline ticket, in the terms and conditions, there can be delays and normally, they say you’re not entitled to compensation for certain delays like weather.”

Here's what each of the major carriers said they do in the event of a significant delay:

American Airlines flight delay compensation policy

Passengers can receive a refund for unused portions of their ticket if they decide not to travel as a result of a delay. Customers may also receive compensation or reimbursement for delay-related hotel stays and ground transportation, depending on the cause of the delay, according to the airline's customer service plan .

Delta Air Lines flight delay compensation policy

According to the DOT , Delta commits to rebooking passengers on other Delta flights or partner airlines and will provide meal vouchers for passengers affected by delays over three hours for certain causes, as well as hotel accommodation and ground transportation for passengers affected by overnight delays for certain causes.

United Airlines flight delay compensation policy

According to the DOT , United commits to rebooking passengers on other United flights or partner airlines and will provide meal vouchers for passengers affected by delays over three hours for certain causes, as well as hotel accommodation and ground transportation for passengers affected by overnight delays for certain causes.

Southwest Airlines flight delay compensation policy

According to the DOT , Southwest commits to rebooking passengers on other Southwest flights and will provide meal vouchers for passengers affected by delays over three hours for certain causes, as well as hotel accommodation and ground transportation for passengers affected by overnight delays for certain causes.

JetBlue flight delay compensation policy

JetBlue has an escalating compensation structure . The minimum compensation is $50 in travel credits after a three-hour departure delay, and the credit adjusts upward by $50 for every additional hour. The credit maxes out at $200 for delays of six hours or more. 

Once passengers have boarded the aircraft, the compensation structure is $100 in credit for a delay between three and five hours, $175 in credit for a delay between five and six hours, or a $250 credit for a delay of six hours or more. 

Passengers are also entitled to compensation if they are delayed on the ground upon arrival, with a $50 credit for a delay of one to two hours, a $125 credit for a delay of two to three hours and a $200 credit for a delay of three hours or more. 

As with other airlines, JetBlue will also rebook passengers on other JetBlue flights or partner airlines and will provide meal vouchers for passengers affected by delays over three hours for certain causes, as well as hotel accommodation and ground transportation for passengers affected by overnight delays for certain causes, according to the DOT .

Spirit Airlines flight delay compensation policy

According to the DOT , Spirit commits to rebooking passengers on other Spirit flights and will provide meal vouchers for passengers affected by delays over three hours for certain causes, as well as hotel accommodation and ground transportation for passengers affected by overnight delays for certain causes.

Frontier Airlines flight delay compensation policy

According to the DOT , Frontier will rebook passengers on other Frontier flights and will provide meal vouchers in the event of delays under certain causes that last for three hours or more.

Alaska Airlines flight delay compensation policy

According to the DOT , Alaska commits to rebooking passengers on other Alaska flights or partner airlines and will provide meal vouchers for passengers affected by delays over three hours for certain causes, as well as hotel accommodation and ground transportation for passengers affected by overnight delays for certain causes. The airline also offers credits, travel vouchers or frequent flyer miles for departure delays lasting three hours or more.

Hawaiian Airlines flight delay compensation policy

According to the DOT , Hawaiian commits to rebooking passengers on other Hawaiian flights and will provide meal vouchers for passengers affected by delays over three hours for certain causes, as well as hotel accommodation and ground transportation for passengers affected by overnight delays for certain causes.

What else should travelers know?

The three biggest pieces of advice experts offered were to join the airline's frequent flyer program, take the earliest flight out if possible and buy travel insurance .

“I advise all my clients to purchase travel protection," said Howard, from Travel by Shaiy. Even if an airline doesn't compensate you following a delay, travel insurance may reimburse you for expenses like rental cars or hotel rooms that you incur as a result. 

She added that it's a good idea to get the airline's app ahead of your trip and speak to the gate agent during the delay.

Marc Casto, president of Flight Centre Travel Group, said it's also important to pay attention to which kind of ticket you purchase.

Advice for travelers: How to track and use your airline credits

"At the stage of buying, I would encourage travelers not to buy the cheapest fare . Those are the most likely passengers to get bumped," he said.

Casto also said flyers should try to resolve their issue through the app or a messaging platform, which is usually faster than calling the customer service number or waiting in line at the airport. 

Booking through a third party like Expedia or Orbitz can also add a layer of complication if something goes wrong, Howard and Casto said, because airlines usually require passengers to make changes and file complaints through their booking agent, and the websites sometimes have different rules around compensation.

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Cash for Delayed or Canceled Flights? What to Know About Biden’s Plan.

If a proposed federal rule takes effect, airlines will have to pay passengers for meals, hotels, ground transportation and lost time if the disruption was caused by the carrier.

A crowd of travelers at the Southwest Airlines check-in counter at La Guardia Airport. The travelers are carrying backpacks, suitcases and handbags and are lined up in a high-ceilinged room with shiny brown-and-white floors and a mosaic on the back wall that has clouds and images like a sign for 72nd Street and the logo of the Stonewall Inn.

By Ainara Tiefenthäler and Ceylan Yeginsu

Technological failures, system outages and staffing shortages have caused thousands of flight delays and cancellations in recent months, wreaking havoc for travelers across the country and putting a spotlight on transportation officials. According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation , around 20 percent of flights were delayed last year. While the weather is often to blame, airlines are also frequently at fault.

President Biden and the transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, announced a proposed new rule on Monday to compensate passengers affected by carrier-caused slowdowns. Under the proposal, airlines would be required to cover certain expenses for passengers as well as pay them for the inconvenience of flight delays and cancellations.

“I know how frustrated many of you are with the service you get from your U.S. airlines,” Mr. Biden said during the announcement at the White House. “Your time matters. The impact on your life matters.”

What would the change mean for travelers?

Under the new rule, carriers would have to provide passengers with assistance and monetary compensation when the airlines are at fault for cancellations or delays of three hours or more. Beyond free rebooking or refunding the price of the ticket, airlines would have to cover other costs incurred by travelers, such as hotels, meals and ground transportation. Additionally, inconvenienced fliers would be entitled to a payment in the form of cash, miles or travel vouchers.

“When an airline causes a flight cancellation or delay, passengers should not foot the bill,” Mr. Buttigieg said in a statement . The rule would also define “controllable cancellation and delay,” making it harder for airlines to deflect responsibility.

The Department of Transportation is still working out the specifics of how much travelers will be able to expect to be paid for their lost time or how claims will be handled, a spokesperson said in an email.

How is this different from what airlines already offer?

Since last year, most U.S. air carriers have committed to some type of compensation for passengers affected by controllable cancellations and significant delays. All 10 major carriers rebook passengers on the same airline at no additional cost, provide meals or meal vouchers when passengers are left waiting for three hours or more, and — with the exception of Frontier Airlines — furnish complimentary ground transportation and lodging in the case of overnight cancellations away from home.

Yet only two carriers offer customers any kind of compensation for the inconvenience.

Alaska Airlines provides discounts on future flights for delays of more than three hours if they were caused by the carrier. According to the airline’s online policy , affected passengers will receive instructions from Alaska’s airport personnel and an email or letter detailing the amount of the discount.

JetBlue Airways automatically notifies passengers via email if their flight qualifies for compensation and offers travel credit on a sliding scale up to $250, depending on the length of the delay and whether the plane had already boarded.

No major U.S. airlines currently provide cash compensation for disrupted flights.

Is there precedent for this type of rule?

In the European Union , where a similar regulation has been in place since 2004, flight cancellations or lengthy delays may give passengers the right to either a refund or a replacement flight, unless caused by “extraordinary circumstances” like severe weather or political unrest. The rule covers all passengers , regardless of nationality, and routes originating within the European Union — even on U.S. carriers. On flights into E.U. countries, the rule applies only to E.U. carriers.

If flights take off late or are canceled less than 14 days before their scheduled departure, passengers may be entitled to up to 600 euros, or about $660. Passengers may also receive compensation if they’re denied boarding. Claims can be filed with air carriers directly or through an online service like Flightright by providing details about the booking and the cause of the delay or cancellation.

If a flight is delayed overnight, passengers in the European Union may also be entitled to reimbursement for expenses like food, ground transportation and accommodation.

In introducing his proposal, Mr. Biden pointed to research showing that the E.U. policy had made a positive impact on air traffic there. A recent study in the journal Transport Policy concluded that European consumer rights regulations had improved service quality by cutting departure delays and boosting airlines’ on-time performance.

When would the policy take effect?

No one knows for sure, but it isn’t likely to be anytime soon.

Mr. Biden said he hoped the Department of Transportation would “move as quickly as it can to put this new rule in place,” but did not specify a timeline.

The agency is currently working on the official document to announce and explain the proposed new rule. Once that is issued, there will be at least one public comment period, which can last several months and during which there may be public hearings, in person or online. Other agencies might also get involved at later stages of the review and analysis process. The rule could still evolve, or in rare cases, even be scrapped.

For now, passengers can keep track of airline compensation policies at FlightRights.gov .

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2023 .

Ainara Tiefenthäler is a video journalist with the Visual Investigations team. She was among the recipients of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for The Times's coverage of the vast civilian toll of U.S.-led airstrikes. More about Ainara Tiefenthäler

Ceylan Yeginsu is a travel reporter. She was previously a correspondent for the International desk in Britain and Turkey, covering politics; social justice; the migrant crisis; the Kurdish conflict, and the rise of Islamic State extremism in Syria and the region. More about Ceylan Yeginsu

Open Up Your World

Considering a trip, or just some armchair traveling here are some ideas..

52 Places:  Why do we travel? For food, culture, adventure, natural beauty? Our 2024 list has all those elements, and more .

Mumbai:  Spend 36 hours in this fast-changing Indian city  by exploring ancient caves, catching a concert in a former textile mill and feasting on mangoes.

Kyoto:  The Japanese city’s dry gardens offer spots for quiet contemplation  in an increasingly overtouristed destination.

Iceland:  The country markets itself as a destination to see the northern lights. But they can be elusive, as one writer recently found .

Texas:  Canoeing the Rio Grande near Big Bend National Park can be magical. But as the river dries, it’s getting harder to find where a boat will actually float .

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Travel plans sometimes change and you may want a refund for a purchased airline ticket or other related services such as baggage or seat fees.  This page contains useful information to determine whether you are entitled to a refund for air fare or services related to a scheduled flight. 

Am I Entitled to a Refund?

In the following situations, consumers are entitled to a refund of the ticket price and/or associated fees.

  • Cancelled Flight – A consumer is entitled to a refund if the airline cancelled a flight, regardless of the reason, and the consumer chooses not to travel.
  • DOT has not specifically defined what constitutes a “significant delay.”  Whether you are entitled to a refund depends on many factors – including the length of the delay, the length of the flight, and your particular circumstances.  DOT determines whether you are entitled to a refund following a significant delay on a case-by-case basis.
  • Class of Service Change - A consumer is entitled to a refund if the consumer was involuntarily moved to a lower class of service.  For example, if the consumer purchased a first-class ticket and was downgraded to economy class due to an aircraft swap, the consumer is owed the difference in fares.  
  • Note : In situations where you have purchased an optional service and that amenity either does not work or is not available on the flight, you may need to notify the airline of the problem to receive a refund.
  • Airlines may have different policies to determine when a bag is officially lost.  Most airlines will declare a bag lost between five and fourteen days after the flight, but this can vary from one airline to another.   
  • If an airline unreasonably refuses to consider a bag lost after it has been missing for an unreasonable period of time, the airline could be subject to enforcement action by the DOT.  
  • Learn more about lost, delayed, or damaged baggage .
  • Fully refundable ticket - Consumers who purchase fully refundable tickets are entitled to a refund when they do not use the purchased ticket to complete their travel

In the following situations, consumers are not entitled to refunds except under very limited circumstances: 

  • Non-refundable tickets - Consumers who purchase non-refundable tickets are not entitled to a refund unless the airline makes a promise to provide a refund or the airline cancels a flight or makes a significant schedule change.      
  • Personal Issue - Consumers who purchase nonrefundable tickets, but are unable to travel for a personal reason, such as being sick or late to the airport, are not entitled to a refund.  
  • Unsatisfactory Service - A consumer who willingly takes a flight but has a bad experience with the airline or the flight is not entitled to a refund.  
  • Incidental Expenses – A consumer who incurs incidental expenses such as a rental car, hotel room, or meal due to a significantly delayed or cancelled flight is not entitled to a refund of the incidental expenses. 

Note : While airlines are not required to issue a refund for non-refundable tickets, they are free to do so or they may issue a credit or travel voucher for future use on the airline.  Airlines must also comply with the promises they make, and in some instances, they may be willing to offer passengers accommodations or other benefits that they are not required to provide.  Contact the airline directly to inquire about additional accommodations or benefits. 

What if I purchased or reserved my ticket through a travel agent or online travel agency?

  • Ticket agents and online travel agencies are required to make “proper” refunds when service cannot be performed as contracted on a flight to, within, or from the United States.
  • (i) an airlines cancels or significantly changes a flight;   
  • (ii) an airline acknowledges that a consumer is entitled to a refunds; and  
  • (iii) passenger funds are possessed by a ticket agent.

What should I do if I am entitled to a refund and would like to receive one from an airline or ticket agent?

  • You should proactively request a refund in writing from an airline or a ticket agent if you believe that you are entitled to a refund.
  • If you contact the airline or ticket agent to obtain a required refund and you are refused that refund, you should file a complaint against the airline or ticket agent with the Department at https://secure.dot.gov/air-travel-complaint .

Cancelling a Ticket Reservation or Purchase within 24 hours of Booking

For airline tickets that are purchased at least seven days before a flight’s scheduled departure date and time, airlines are required to either:

allow consumers to cancel their reservation and receive a full refund without a penalty for 24 hours , or

allow consumers to reserve a ticket (place it on hold) at the quoted prices without paying for the ticket for 24 hours .

  • Airlines are not required to offer both a hold and a refund option. Check your airline’s policy before purchasing a ticket. However, if an airline accepts a reservation without payment, it must allow the consumer to cancel the reservation within 24 hours without penalty. If an airline requires payment with a reservation, it must allow the consumer to cancel the payment and reservation within 24 hours and receive a full refund.

Although airlines must hold a reservation for 24 hours or provide a refund to consumers at their request within 24 hours of making a reservation, airlines are not required to make changes to a ticket free of charge (for example - change your ticket to a different date or correct a misspelled name on the reservation).

In some cases, instead of paying for a change fee and a potential difference between the original ticket price and the current ticket price, it may be cheaper to request a refund for the ticket and rebook. However, please keep in mind that ticket prices can change quickly.

Does the 24-hour refund/reservation requirement apply to tickets purchased or reserved through a travel agent or online travel agency?

No, the 24-hour refund/reservation requirement for airlines does not apply to tickets booked through online travel agencies, travel agents, or other third-party agents.  However, these agents are free to apply the same or similar procedures to provide equivalent or similar customer service.

If you purchased your ticket through an online travel agency (or other agent), you should contact the travel agent directly to obtain a refund before contacting the airline.

How quickly are airlines, travel agents, and online travel agencies required to process a refund?

Airlines and ticket agents are required to make refunds promptly.

For airlines, “prompt” is defined as being within 7 business days if a passenger paid by credit card, and within 20 days if a passenger paid by cash or check.

For ticket agents, prompt is not defined.

This may be addressed in a future DOT rulemaking. More information can be found here: 

Airline Ticket Refunds and Consumer Protections

Air Transportation Consumer Protection Requirements for Ticket Agents

DOT Relaunches Air Consumer Website

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Delayed or Canceled Flight

We understand how frustrating cancellations and delays can be, and we sincerely apologize if your trip has been impacted by a disruption. Although we strive to prevent them, these disruptions sometimes occur. Rest assured, we are committed to helping you manage the disruption. 

Flights departing outside of 72 hours

If your flight departs in more than 72 hours, you may be experiencing a schedule change. Please visit our Schedule Change page for more information on how to manage your trip. Otherwise, continue reading to learn about flight delays and cancellations and the options available for you to keep your trip on track.

Am I Experiencing a Delayed or Canceled Flight?

If your itinerary involuntarily changes within 72 hours of your departure or on your day of travel, it’s likely you’re experiencing one of the following scenarios: 

  • A significant delay , Go to footer note (greater than 120 minutes) in your originally scheduled departure or arrival time
  • A delay , Go to footer note (less than 120 minutes) in your originally scheduled departure or arrival time
  • A flight cancellation , Go to footer note

Please note, the options available to manage your delayed or canceled flight will vary based on the extent of the delay. Learn what options are available for you based on the type of disruption below.

Do you need to search for another flight? 

Delayed or Canceled Flight Guidance

Trip Disruptions Under 120 Minutes     If your trip is impacted by a delay or cancellation that is less than 120 minutes, you can check your eligibility to rebook by visiting My Trips .     Trip Disruptions Over 120 Minutes

If you experience a significantly delayed (>120 minutes) or canceled flight, we will first try to rebook you at no additional cost and do our best to notify you via 1 or more of the following methods: 

  • Text message or phone call
  • The Fly Delta app

Your updated itinerary can also be found in My Trips . The next section will explain your options if we are unable to rebook your flight or if the automatically updated itinerary does not fit your needs.   

If we are unable to find an alternate flight to accommodate you after a cancellation or significant delay (>120 minutes), or if your new itinerary no longer fits your needs, you may: 

  • Adjust your itinerary in   My Trips
  • Cancel your flight to receive an eCredit for the value of the un-flown portion of your ticket
  • Cancel your flight and   request a refund of the un-flown portion of your ticket to your original form of payment

If you prefer to explore other flight options, use the following steps to search for alternate flights and select a new one. Keep in mind that some changes will require you to pay the difference in price from your original flight.

  • Step 1: View your updated flight details on the Fly Delta app, My Trips or at a Delta kiosk.
  • Step 2: Review flight options and select the flight that best suits your needs or choose to remain on your current flight.
  • Step 3: Complete the flight change.
  • Step 4: Receive your confirmation and you’re all set.

Ready to view alternate flights and select a new one? 

We will do our best to reroute your checked baggage on your new flight, but this may not always be possible. If your bag does not arrive at your destination, please submit a claim or proceed to the Delta Baggage Service Office in the baggage claim area at your destination airport for assistance. Remember that you can also track the location of your bags using the “Track My Bags” feature in the Fly Delta app .

If you have experienced a flight cancellation or significant delay of greater than 120 minutes and no longer want to travel on your remaining itinerary, you can first cancel your itinerary via My Trips  and then use the Travel Disruption Refund Request form to submit a refund request for the unflown portion of your ticket. 

Please note that we are unable to issue refunds for the following:  

  • Non-refundable tickets that have not experienced a flight cancellation or significant delay (>120 minutes)
  • Tickets purchased from third-party travel sites or agencies (please reach out to your travel agent for assistance)
  • Tickets already used for travel

If you are a resident of the U.S. or Canada and you incurred hotel, transportation and/or meal expenses due to a significant delay (>3 hours) or cancellation that was within our control, you can submit a reimbursement request using the Reimbursement Request form .  

To request reimbursement relating to disrupted travel for non-residents of the U.S. and Canada, please use the Comment and Complaint form . Once submitted, we will review the request and update you on reimbursement eligibility.  

Please note that we are unable to provide reimbursement delays or cancellations arising from factors outside of our control, such as: 

  • Air Traffic Control delays 
  • Weather delays 

In addition, Delta does not reimburse the following expense types:

  • Prepaid expenses, including hotels and activities at your destination
  • Alternative transportation to your final destination

When a significant delay (>3 hours), misconnect or cancellation is within our control, we may be able to provide:

  • Complimentary hotel accommodation (based on availability)
  • Complimentary ground transportation to and from the hotel
  • Meal vouchers 

Please check with a Delta agent at the airport for more information about accommodations, transportation or vouchers in the event of a qualifying significant delay or cancellation.

There are times when you may have to reach out to us to manage your delayed or canceled flight. 

  • For tickets with unaccompanied minors, please message us or reach out to a Reservations Specialist by calling us at 800-325-8847 (dial 711 for relay services). 
  • For a Delta Vacations booking, please reach out directly at 800-800-1504. 
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travel compensation for delayed flights

What to Do if Your Flight Was Canceled or Delayed

S torms across much of the eastern half of the United States are threatening to upend Thanksgiving travel during some of the busiest travel days of the year. Unfortunately, this isn't a one-off occurrence: whether it be a storm, a mechanical issue, or lack of staff, there's always a risk that a flight could be delayed or canceled. If you happen to find yourself stuck in transit with a flight that has been canceled or delayed by your airline, here's what to do.

First, you have a right to compensation or being rebooked on a new flight

In 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a new Aviation Consumer Protection website to help travelers track down what kind of refunds or compensation their airline should provide when there is a cancellation or delay (which includes a table of compensations broken down by airline )

Airlines aren't required to compensate passengers when flights are delayed or canceled due to problems deemed beyond the company's control, like bad weather. They also aren't required to provide a refund when the passenger initiates the cancellation or flight change.

But a refund is required by U.S. law when the airline cancels, delays, or alters a flight, or passengers are involuntarily bumped from a flight that is oversold or due to issues originating from the airline, such as operational or staffing problems.

Additionally, after the federal government began cracking down on airlines this year, all of the major U.S. airlines vowed to provide meal vouchers for delays of more than three hours and to provide transfers and hotel stays to passengers affected by an overnight cancellation. They have all also agreed to rebook travelers on an alternate flight at no added cost due to a delay or cancellation and most will also rebook on a partner airline.

How to get rebooked on a different flight

If you want to continue with your travel plans, you will need to get rebooked on a different flight (unless your flight is delayed, not canceled, and you have decided to stick with it). In this case:

Use your airline's app to select a new flight

If you have downloaded your airline's app and have your flight information linked to your account, you may not need to deal with an actual human in the event of a flight delay or cancellation. As soon as your airline knows your flight will be delayed or canceled, they will send you an update within their dedicated app. Whether it's delayed or canceled, they should give you the option to rebook on a different flight directly within the app (if they haven't automatically placed you on a different flight). In this case, it pays to act quickly-after all, you have a whole plane full of travelers in the same situation.

If your flight is simply delayed and you're not at risk of missing a connection, you might opt to stick with your current itinerary. In this scenario, you don't have to do anything but it's helpful to know if your flight is at risk of further delays. To do this, look up where your plane is coming from and then use an app like FlightAware (which is linked directly with some airline apps, such as United) to check if it's en route or not. Your new departure time is much more likely to get pushed back again if your plane isn't on its way to your departure airport yet.

If that didn't work, talk to a gate agent or-better yet-call customer service

If you aren't able to rebook via the app on a flight that meets your needs, then it's time for plan B: getting in touch with a gate agent or customer service. Often, calling a customer service agent can be quicker than speaking to someone in real life.

Try to remain calm and friendly

You can only imagine the amount of frustration fliers have when flights get canceled or delayed. Good ol' fashioned friendliness can help make headway with a weary gate, airline, or customer service agent who isn't having an easy day (week? year?). If you're on the phone with an agent who just does not seem like they want to help, don't hesitate to make an excuse for ending the call and try back for another person who maybe is more willing. Yes, we know that could mean another prolonged period of sitting through lounge music while on hold.

Research alternate flights with the same airline, partner airlines, even competitors

Before you hop on the phone or talk to a gate agent, look up flight alternatives with the airline you are booked on, partner airlines (especially for international flights), and even with competing carriers. If you know of a specific flight that has empty seats, it can be helpful to bring that knowledge to your conversation-even if it's not on the airline you have a ticket with.

Don't be shy to "go to a different carrier and say, ‘How can you get me to [my destination]?'" says former airline pilot and FlightAware spokesperson Kathleen Bangs. In some situations, even competing airlines with a mutual agreement to do so can allow you to transfer over a ticket. Use Google Flights to see all the options available to you.

Use your fliers' rights knowledge as leverage

According to Willis Orlando, senior product operations specialist at flight-deal tracking service Going (formerly known as Scott's Cheap Flights ), "Knowing [your] rights kind of gives you priority in getting yourself rebooked." He notes that when you approach the airline agent via phone or text message, "and you say, ‘I understand under law that I can ask for a refund and go home, but I prefer not to do that. I found this itinerary that I would like to be rebooked on'-they are highly incentivized to help you out. You're bringing something to the table that the other customers are not. They very often will go the extra mile for you."

Lean on your travel advisor, friends, and family members

"If you used a travel agent, that is someone who can advocate for you. You paid for this person's services, and when things hit the fan, this is the time to take advantage of those services," says Orlando.

You can also contact a company that specializes in urgent air travel assistance, like Cranky Concierge, which has a staff trained in this kind of research and rebooking, for a fee.

Another strategy is to provide your flight numbers and travel details to a trusted friend or family member who can help keep flight status watch for you and provide helpful info via text or even do some behind-the-scenes research and rebooking while you are up in the air. Adds Orlando, "It's not a bad time to call on favors."

Getting compensated during or after your travels

As mentioned above, if you decide not to continue with your travel itinerary, you are entitled to a full refund of the flight. But even if you do continue with your travel plans, you are entitled to compensation for the inconvenience.

Always ask for miles

If an airline rebooks you onto a different flight after a flight was canceled, it can (and should) at least offer you miles "for the inconvenience" if it doesn't offer you other compensation, such as payment for meals or an overnight hotel stay, says Bangs. "I would just say to the airline, ‘What can we do to make this fair?'"

If you are not given anything in the moment, you can request compensation by filing a complaint (usually online) with the airline you had a ticket with.

File a complaint with the DOT

If the airline wasn't cooperative in providing a required refund or requested assistance, file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation, which can be done online . It can help ensure you (finally) do get a response from the airline.

Whatever you do, be kind

Most importantly, don't forget to (hopefully) enjoy wherever it is you are going and to be kind to all the people who are helping to get you there often under trying circumstances. (We see all of you, tired airport staff, pilots, flight attendants, air traffic control crew, and everyone else working to make our travel dreams come true.) Travel is and will always be such a privilege.

mothballed_airplanes_shutterstock.jpg

Claim compensation if your flight's delayed or cancelled

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland , See advice for Scotland , See advice for Wales

You might be able to get compensation if your flight was:

leaving from the UK – it doesn’t matter which airline it was with

leaving from the EU, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland - it doesn't matter which airline it was with

arriving in the UK and was with a UK or EU airline

arriving in the EU and was with a UK airline

When to contact the airline

Contact the airline if these don't apply to you - for example, because you flew from New York to Los Angeles, or to Europe on a Qantas plane. What you’ll be entitled to will depend on the airline, and the countries you left from and arrived in.

Check what the airline should give you if your flight's delayed

If your flight’s delayed for long enough, your airline has to give you:

food and drink

access to phone calls and emails

accommodation if you’re delayed overnight - and journeys between the airport and the hotel

How long the delay has to be depends on the distance of the flight and the countries it's flying between. You can check the flight distance on the WebFlyer website.

The airline might give you vouchers to get these things at the airport. Ask someone who works for the airline if you’re not offered any help.

If they don’t give you help at the airport, keep receipts for expenses and try to claim from the airline later. Airlines only pay for ‘reasonable’ expenses - you are unlikely to get money back for alcohol, expensive meals or luxury hotels.

If your flight’s delayed for 3 or more hours

You’re entitled to get compensation if the flight arrives more than 3 hours late and it's the airline’s fault - for example, if they didn’t get enough bookings or there was a technical fault.

You’re unlikely to get compensation if the delay was because of something outside the airline’s control, like bad weather or a security risk.

If you’re on a non-UK flight which connects to a UK flight

You can usually get compensation if:

you booked both flights as a single booking

you were delayed for more than 3 hours

the delay was the airline’s fault

For example, if you were flying from London to Melbourne, with a stopover in Dubai, and your connecting flight was delayed or you couldn’t board the plane, you’d still be covered.

You’re entitled to a set amount of compensation depending on both:

the distance of your flight - check your  flight distance on the WebFlyer website

the length of the delay - how late you are getting to your destination

How to get compensation

You have to claim from the airline to get compensation. Search their website or call their customer services department.

If your flight’s delayed for 5 hours or more

You don’t have to take the flight if it’s delayed for 5 hours or more.

If you don’t take the flight

The airline legally has to give you all of the following:

a full refund for the flight

a full refund for other flights from the airline that you won’t use in the same booking, eg an onward or return flight

if you’re part-way through a journey, a flight back to the airport you originally departed from

You should get the refund within 7 days of the date of the flight.

Talk to someone from the airline as soon as you decide you don’t want to take the flight.

If you do take the flight

You can claim up to £520 in compensation if the delay is the airline’s fault - depending on the distance and destination of your flight, and how late it arrived. It might have been your airline's fault if there was a technical problem, or they overbooked.

If your flight is cancelled

You have the legal right to either:

a full refund - including other flights from the airline that you won’t use in the same booking such as onward or return flights

a replacement flight to get you to your destination

If you’re part-way through a journey and you don’t want a replacement flight, you also have a right to a flight back to the airport you originally departed from.

Ask for a refund or replacement at the airport if you can. If not, you can claim from the airline later.

You also have a legal right to:

help with costs - if the cancellation delays you 2 or more hours

compensation - if you’d be delayed 2 or more hours by the replacement flight offered and you were given less than 2 weeks' notice

If you get a replacement flight

If you have to wait long enough for your replacement flight, the airline legally has to help you with things you need. This includes:

accommodation if you’re delayed overnight, as well as journeys between the airport and the hotel

How long the delay has to be depends on the distance of the flight and the countries it's flying between. You can check the  flight distance  on the WebFlyer website.

The airline might give you vouchers to get these things at the airport. Ask someone who works for the airline if you’re not offered anything.

If they don’t give you help at the airport, keep receipts for your expenses and try to claim from the airline later. Airlines only pay for ‘reasonable’ expenses - you are unlikely to get money back for alcohol, expensive meals or luxury hotels.

Claim compensation for a cancelled flight

You’re legally entitled to get compensation if the cancellation is the airline’s responsibility and both the following apply:

the replacement flight delays your arrival by 2 or more hours

your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure

The amount of compensation you’re entitled to depends on:

when the flight was cancelled

the distance of the flight - check the flight distance on the Web Flyer website

the departure and arrival times of the rescheduled flight

If your flight was cancelled less than 7 days before departure:

If your flight was cancelled between 7 and 14 days before departure:.

You can claim from the airline to get compensation. You might be able to claim from your travel insurance – check if your insurance policy covers cancellations.

Claim from the airline

Contact the airline – this needs to be the airline operating the flight, even if you booked it through another airline. The airline’s customer services department will usually help. Be ready to give all your flight details and booking reference numbers.

Write your claim – say what went wrong and what you want the airline to give you. Include copies (not originals) of your tickets and any receipts.

Check how to write a good claim on the Civil Aviation Authority’s website.

Keep records – keep copies of your claim and any response from the airline. Take notes if you speak to anyone from the airline - this could be useful if you decide to take your claim further.

If you’re not getting anywhere

If you’ve asked the airline and they won’t give you the right compensation, you can complain to an independent organisation.

If the airline is a member of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme, you can complain to the scheme.

Check if the airline is a member of an ADR scheme on the Civil Aviation Authority’s website . 

If they are, complain to the ADR scheme. If the airline isn’t part of an ADR scheme, you can complain to the Civil Aviation Authority on their website .

Further help

Contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133  if you need more help - a trained adviser can give you advice over the phone. You can also use an online form . 

If you’re in Northern Ireland, contact  Consumerline .

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travel compensation for delayed flights

Flight Delays and Cancellations: A Guide

Table of contents.

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Air Passenger Protection

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  • Know your rights
  • How to file a complaint

1. Introduction

This is a guide explaining passenger rights and airline obligations if there is a flight delay or cancellation. These apply to flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights. The airline operating the affected flight is responsible for meeting obligations to the passenger. This guide describes the different types of flight delays and cancellations and how an airline's obligations are different, depending on their level of control over the situation.

An airline's tariff (the contract of transport between the passenger and the airline), which sets out its terms and conditions, cannot offer passengers less than these obligations require. If an airline chooses, its tariff may offer passengers terms that go beyond these minimum requirements.

This guide also provides tips for managing common flight delay or cancellation situations. These are meant to help both airlines and passengers understand what factors the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) would consider if a passenger complained to the CTA about a disrupted flight.

This is not a legal document. The explanations and definitions it provides are for general guidance purposes only. Airline obligations related to flight delays and cancellations can be found in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) and Annex A of this guide. In case of differences between this guide and legislation or regulations, the legislation and regulations prevail.

2. Types of flight delays and cancellations

When a flight is delayed or cancelled (including before the day of travel), an airline has minimum obligations to passengers that could include certain kinds of assistance (standards of treatment), rebooking or refunds, and up to $1,000 in compensation for inconvenience. Their obligations depend on whether the disruption is within the control of the airline, within the airline's control but required for safety, or outside the airline's control. These situations are described briefly below. More detail, including how to treat the impacts of a flight disruption on other flights, is included in Types and Categories of Flight Disruption: A Guide .

Within the airline's control

Situations within an airline's control usually happen because of commercial decisions an airline makes in its day-to-day operations. These could include staffing issues and decisions to consolidate flights because of low demand. 

Disruptions due to scheduled maintenance (including any work to address issues found during that maintenance) are also considered within the airline's control.

Within the airline's control, but required for safety

In this category, "required for safety" means "required by law to reduce risk to passengers." Generally, these are situations in which an airline must delay or cancel a flight to follow rules put in place to make sure the flight and people on board are safe. These rules include the Canadian Aviation Regulations and its standards. For example, flight disruptions due to safety issues identified during pre- or post-flight checks which are performed for every flight to locate last-minute, unforeseeable issues,  would fall into this category.

Outside the airline's control

This category covers flight delays and cancellations over which the airline does not have control. These could include security incidents, medical emergencies, bad weather, or orders from applicable authorities.

Additional information:

In the event of a delay on the tarmac, airlines have all the obligations outlined in this guide, depending on their level of control over the situation, as well as other, specific obligations. For more detail, see Tarmac Delay Assistance and Disembarkation: A Guide .

3. Obligations: Situations within the airline's control

An airline operating a flight that is delayed or cancelled for reasons within its control must communicate key information and, when applicable, do the following for the affected passengers:

  • Provide assistance;
  • Offer alternate travel arrangements or a refund; and
  • Pay compensation for inconvenience.

Communicating with Passengers During a Disruption

Airlines have specific communication obligations when they delay or cancel a flight. The airline operating the disrupted flight must give passengers key information, including the reason for the delay or cancellation. The information should be in plain language without technical jargon and provide enough detail, so passengers can understand the reason given and how this reason caused the delay or cancellation. Airlines must also tell passengers about the compensation and assistance they may be entitled to, and their rights and options for making a complaint – including to the CTA.

During flight delays, airlines must provide regular flight status updates at least every 30 minutes until a new departure time or flight arrangement has been confirmed. The airline must provide any new information to passengers as soon as is feasible, including new information on the departure time, boarding gate, and reason for the delay.

All communication must be available in a format that is accessible to persons with disabilities.

Communication Guide:

Airlines' communications obligations in the event of a flight delay or cancellation are described in greater detail in Communicating Key Information to Passengers: A Guide . This guide includes expectations regarding when and how to communicate this information.

When there is a flight disruption, the operating airline must provide the assistance described below to passengers at the airport, if the passengers:

  • were informed of the disruption less than 12 hours before the original departure time; and
  • have waited two hours or more since the original departure time.

Reasonable amount of food and drink

Airlines must provide reasonable amounts of food and drink, free of charge. They should take into account the following factors when determining the quantity and timing:

  • Length of delay/time of day: Airlines should consider the length of the disruption and the time of day it occurred in deciding how much food to provide and when. For example, serving water and a snack (like a granola bar) could meet the food and drink obligation for a short delay in the middle of the afternoon, but it would be reasonable to expect more food at typical meal times or after a lengthy wait.
  • Location of airport: Where the disruption takes place may affect the type and range of food and drink options. For example, options may be more limited in Canada's North and remote areas.

Access to means of communication

Airlines must give passengers access to a means of communication, free of charge. How they do this depends on the circumstances. For example, they could provide access to Wi-Fi, have phones available at the gate for passengers to use, or provide a pre-paid calling card.

Overnight accommodation

When a passenger will have to wait overnight for their flight (and where this would not have been necessary for the original flight), the airline must offer them hotel or other comparable accommodation. This must:

  • be free of charge to the passenger;
  • be reasonable, considering the passenger's location; and
  • include transportation to, and from, the accommodation.

A passenger's 2:00 pm flight has been cancelled at their point of departure in a remote location. The airline has made new travel arrangements for the passenger on a flight early the following morning.

When arranging the overnight stay for this passenger, the airline should first discuss with the passenger whether accommodations are needed. For example, if the passenger lives near the airport, it may be more convenient for them to stay at their home, in which case, the airline must simply cover their transportation home and back to the airport the next day.

If the passenger does need accommodation, the arrangements the airline makes will depend on the availability of accommodations. The airline is expected to make every reasonable effort to book hotel accommodations for the passenger. In certain circumstances (for example, in a remote community), it may not be possible to book accommodations within a reasonable distance of the airport (to ensure the passenger can make it back to the airport the next morning).

Refusing or limiting assistance

An airline may only limit or refuse to provide the required assistance if doing so would further delay the passenger. For example, if a flight has been delayed for two hours, but boarding is expected to start within 30 minutes, offering passengers airport food vouchers may prevent timely boarding. In this case, offering water and a simple snack may be reasonable.

Alternate travel arrangements and refunds

Airlines must always ensure that a passenger whose flight has been disrupted completes their journey – either on the original flight or through alternate travel arrangements. The aim must be to get the passenger to the destination indicated on their original ticket as soon as possible.

The requirement to provide alternate travel arrangements, free of charge, applies when a flight is cancelled and for flight delays of three hours or more. This could be achieved in the following ways:

  • The operating airline makes alternate travel arrangements for all affected passengers, with the option for the passenger to refuse the new arrangements; or
  • The operating airline offers alternate travel arrangements to each affected passenger and makes those new arrangements for any passenger who accepts.

In either case, the passenger may choose to accept the alternate travel arrangements offered by the airline, or opt not to travel and  receive a refund.

Large and small airlines have different obligations for making alternate travel arrangements.

About large and small airlines

An airline's tariff (the contract of transport between the passenger and the airline) must say whether it is a large or small airline.

An airline is a large airline if it transported at least two million passengers during each of the past two calendar years. This includes all passengers carried throughout the airline's entire network. Otherwise, the airline is a small airline .

A small airline transporting passengers on behalf of a large airline under a commercial agreement (like a code share or a block space agreement) will have to follow the large airline obligations for those passengers.

Tip for passengers: If there is a commercial arrangement in place, the passenger's ticket or itinerary will show which two airlines are involved. The first two letters of the flight number are the unique two-letter code of the airline that sold the ticket to the passenger (for example, AC142 is an Air Canada flight, while WS450 is a WestJet flight). The ticket or itinerary should also say which airline is operating the flight on behalf of the first.

Large airlines

Large airlines must book the passenger on the next available flight that is operated by them, or an airline with which they have a commercial agreement. The new flight:

  • must take any reasonable route out of the same airport to the passenger’s destination indicated on their original ticket; and
  • must depart within nine hours of the departure time indicated on the passenger's original ticket.

If the airline cannot provide a reservation on a flight which departs within nine hours, they must book the passenger, as soon as possible, on a flight operated by any airline. The new flight:

  • must take any reasonable route out of the same airport to the passenger's destination indicated on their original ticket. This may mean buying a ticket for the passenger on a competing airline; and,
  • must depart within 48 hours of the departure time indicated on the passenger's original ticket.

If the airline cannot provide a reservation on a flight which departs within 48 hours of the original departure time, the airline must book the passenger as soon as possible, on a flight operated by any airline, from a nearby airport. They will also have to transport the passenger to that airport, free of charge. The new flight:

  • must take any reasonable route out of the nearby airport to the passenger's destination indicated on their original ticket.

Reasonable Route: Example

A large airline is making alternate travel arrangements for passengers whose direct flight from Punta Cana to Vancouver was cancelled. In determining options, the airline must consider whether the available flights take reasonable routes.

The first available option involves two connections – in Toronto and Edmonton – and would have the passengers reaching their destination 28 hours later than indicated on their original ticket. This may not be considered a reasonable option, because the length of time and multiple connections would further inconvenience the passengers (especially given they had originally booked a direct flight).

In this case, a direct flight leaving a little later than the first option would likely be considered the more reasonable option.

Small airlines

Small airlines must book the passenger on the next available flight operated by them or an airline with which they have a commercial agreement. The flight must take any reasonable route from the same airport to the passenger's destination indicated on their original ticket. Small airlines do not have to book the passenger with an airline with which they do not have a commercial agreement.

Comparable conditions and services

To the extent possible, airlines must provide alternate travel arrangements comparable to the ones the passenger originally purchased in terms of:

  • the class of service; and
  • added services the passenger purchased.

If the arrangements mean the passenger will be travelling in a higher class of service than originally purchased, the airline must not ask for an additional payment. If the passenger will be travelling in a lower class of service, the airline must refund the difference in cost for the applicable portion of the original ticket.

The airline must also provide a refund for any added services the passenger purchased but did not receive on the alternate flight or added services they had to pay for a second time.

For example, if the passenger prepaid for a meal and a meal was not available on the alternate flight, or the passenger had to buy the meal again, the airline is obligated to refund the cost of that prepaid meal.

If a flight is diverted to a different airport than the one on the passenger's original ticket, the airline (large or small) must transport the passenger to the airport on the ticket unless the passenger chooses not to accept that transportation. For example, if the diversion is to another airport in the same city, the airline may have to provide shuttles or taxis to the original destination airport on the ticket.

If an airline (large or small) offers alternate travel arrangements but these do not meet a passenger’s needs, the passenger is entitled to a refund. If the passenger's trip no longer serves its purpose because of the disruption, and the passenger is no longer at their point of origin (for example, if they are at a connecting point in their multi-leg ticket), then the airline must book the passenger on a flight back to their point of origin that accommodates the passenger's travel needs, free of charge, and refund the entire ticket (as if no part of the trip had been made).

In any other case, when the alternate travel arrangements do not meet a passenger's travel needs, the operating airline must provide a refund for the unused portion of the ticket.

Form of refund

Airlines must make refunds to the person who purchased the ticket in the same form of payment the ticket or additional service was purchased.

Airlines may offer another form of refund (for example, travel vouchers), but only if:

  • it does not expire;
  • the airline informs the person in writing of the value of the ticket and their right to receive a refund in that amount by the original payment method; and
  • the person confirms in writing that they have been informed of their right to a refund by the original method of payment and instead have chosen the other form of refund.

The airline will be required to provide the refund within 30 days, regardless of the refund format (for example, cash, credit, alternate forms). 

Compensation

Airlines should give passengers as much notice as possible that their flight will be delayed or cancelled. If an airline informs the passengers 14 days or less before their original departure time, they will have to compensate the passengers for the inconvenience of the disruption. The amount of compensation depends on how late the passenger arrives at their  destination, compared to the arrival time indicated on their original ticket.

Large airlines must pay:

  • $400 if the passenger arrives three or more hours late, but less than six hours;
  • $700 if the passenger arrives six or more hours late, but less than nine hours; and
  • $1,000 if the passenger arrives nine or more hours late.

Small airlines must pay:

  • $125 if the passenger arrives three or more hours late, but less than six hours;
  • $250 if the passenger arrives six or more hours late, but less than nine hours; and
  • $500 if the passenger arrives nine or more hours late.

Passengers who choose to take a ticket refund instead of alternate travel arrangements must still be compensated for inconvenience if the disruption was within the airline’s control. Large airlines must pay them $400 and small airlines, $125.

A passenger can only receive compensation for inconvenience under the APPR if they have not already received compensation for the same delay or cancellation under other air passenger protection rules in another jurisdiction. Passengers have the right to seek compensation under the regime of their choice – airlines cannot refuse to compensate a passenger simply because that passenger would also be eligible under another jurisdiction's rules. Airlines are encouraged to track claims submitted to them under other rules to make sure the passenger receives compensation for inconvenience once.

Claims for compensation

A passenger has one year from the date the flight delay or cancellation happened to make a compensation claim with the airline. The airline has 30 days to respond by either making the payment or saying why it believes compensation is not owed.

Making a claim using representation

If a passenger would like to have a third party represent them in making a claim with an airline, the passenger should check the airline's policies and procedures in this area. Some airlines may, for example, ask for proof that the passenger has given the other party permission to represent them.

Making the compensation payment

If compensation is owed, the airline must offer it in a monetary form. This can include cash, cheque, bank drafts, and electronic bank transfers.

An airline may also offer another form of compensation, such as vouchers, but only if:

  • it tells the passenger the monetary amount they are entitled to;
  • it tells the passenger in writing the value of the other form of compensation it is offering;
  • the other form is greater in value than the monetary amount the passenger is entitled to;
  • the other form of compensation has no expiry date; and
  • the passenger confirms in writing they know that monetary compensation is available, but they choose the other form of compensation.

The amount of the compensation airlines provide must be equal or greater than the required amount of compensation in Canadian dollars. If a passenger requests compensation in a particular currency, airlines are encouraged to accommodate them, if possible. It is recognized that it may not be feasible to offer all currencies.

The compensation must be paid to the passenger who experienced the disruption, regardless of who paid for their ticket.

Rejecting a claim for compensation

Flight disruptions can be complex – the situation can change over time, there can be more than one reason for the flight disruption, and a passenger can experience more than one disrupted flight on the way to their destination. In some cases, the airline may only be sure of the primary reason for a flight disruption once it has had time to investigate, after the travel has been completed. This means the primary reason for the disruption may be different from the one originally provided by the airline at the time of the flight disruption.

That is why it is important for the airline to provide a full and clear explanation to the passenger when rejecting a claim for compensation. The explanation must give the passenger enough information to decide whether they would like to file a complaint to challenge the rejection. The airline's explanation must include the reason for the disruption and why it means that no compensation is owed. The 30-day response window gives the airline enough time to look into the claim and collect the necessary information.

Not providing the passenger with a full and clear explanation of why the airline is rejecting the claim for compensation may leave the passenger confused or suspicious. This is especially true if the explanation does not match the reason for disruption originally provided by the airline. In these cases, the airline should explain that the situation evolved, or that new information came to light.

Multiple reasons and multiple flight disruptions

If there were multiple reasons for a flight disruption or multiple disrupted flights on a passenger's itinerary, the airline must decide whether compensation is owed based on the three-step process described in Types and Categories of Flight Disruption: A Guide .

If the airline follows this process and decides that compensation is not owed, their explanation to the passenger must indicate:

  • what the different reasons were, the length of delay that each one caused, and which flight was affected (if there was more than one disrupted flight);
  • what was the primary reason the passenger arrived at their destination late; and
  • what APPR category that reason falls into – outside the airline's control or within the airline's control but required for safety purposes.

Tip for passengers

In addition to the minimum compensation for inconvenience described in this guide, a passenger who is delayed while travelling internationally may also be entitled to make a claim under the Montreal or Warsaw Convention for certain damages – for example, expenses – that happened because of the delay. It is recommended that passengers first make these claims with the airline in writing. There is a 2-year time limit for any court action to claim damages.

4. Obligations: Situations within the airline's control, but required for safety

If an airline delays or cancels a flight for reasons within its control, but required for safety, it does not have to compensate passengers. However, the airline must meet the other obligations described in "Situations within the airline's control", above.

5. Obligations: Situations outside the airline's control

If an airline delays or cancels a flight for reasons outside its control, it does not have to compensate affected passengers, and the requirement to provide minimum assistance (food, drink, access to communications, and overnight accommodations) does not apply. However, the airline must follow the communication requirements described in Situations within the airline's control , above. It must also make alternate travel arrangements for passengers, or, in certain circumstances, provide a refund.

In situations outside its control, the airline operating the flight must ensure that the passengers complete their journey. If a flight is cancelled or once a flight delay has reached three hours, the airline must provide the passenger with a confirmed reservation on the next available flight that is operated by the original airline, or an airline with which the original airline has a commercial agreement. The flight must depart within 48 hours after the departure time indicated on the passenger’s original ticket. If the airline cannot provide a reservation on a flight that departs within 48 hours of the original departure time indicated on the passenger's ticket , the airline must, at the passenger’s choice;

  • Provide a refund; or
  • Make alternate travel arrangements for passengers, free of charge. The details of the new flight depend on the size of the airline, as follows.

If the passenger chooses alternate travel arrangements and is travelling with a large airline

Large airlines must book the passenger on a flight operated by any airline. The new flight must take any reasonable route from the same airport or from a nearby airport to the passenger's destination indicated on their original ticket. In that case, they will also have to transport the passenger to that airport, free of charge.

If the passenger chooses alternate travel arrangements and is travelling with a small airline

Small airlines must book the passenger on the next available flight operated by them or an airline with which they have a commercial agreement. The flight must take any reasonable route from the same airport to the passenger's destination indicated on their original ticket. Small airlines are not required to book the passenger with an airline with which they do not have a commercial agreement.

If the passenger chooses a refund and is no longer at their point of origin

If a passenger who chooses to be refunded is no longer at the point of origin that is indicated on the original ticket (for example, if the passenger is at a connecting point) and the travel no longer serves a purpose because of the delay or cancellation, then the airline (large or small) must rebook the passenger on a flight back to that point of origin that accommodates the passenger's travel needs, free of charge, and refund the entire ticket (as if no part of the trip had been made).

Airlines must provide the refund to the person who originally purchased the ticket, using that person’s original payment method (for example, a return on the person’s credit card). The airline may offer the refund in another form (for example, travel vouchers), but only if:

The airline must provide the refund within 30 days, regardless of the refund format (for example, cash, credit, travel voucher, etc).

6. Complaints to the CTA

If a person's travel has been disrupted and they believe that the airline did not meet the obligations in its tariff (the contract of transport between the passenger and the airline) or the APPR, they should contact the airline in writing. If the airline does not respond after 30 days or if they are not satisfied with the airline’s response, they can make a complaint to the CTA.  

The CTA can help resolve complaints about air travel to, from and within Canada. The CTA's role is to make sure that airlines apply their terms and conditions of carriage set out in their tariffs, follow the Air Passenger Protection Regulations , and that both passengers and airlines have met their respective responsibilities.

The passenger may choose to have a lawyer or another party act for them in the CTA dispute resolution process. If the passenger chooses a representative that is not a lawyer, the CTA will ask the passenger for certain information and a signed statement giving the third party permission to act for them .

Recommended practice – information to provide the CTA in the event of a complaint

In the context of air travel complaints filed with the CTA, the CTA expects passengers and airlines to provide detail of what happened when the flight was disrupted.

If a passenger brings forward a complaint to the CTA regarding a flight disruption, the CTA will expect certain information from the passenger and the airline.

If a passenger disagrees with how an airline categorized a flight disruption, the CTA will expect them to justify why they disagree. In turn, the airline will be expected to provide evidence demonstrating which category the disruption falls into. Such evidence is the basis upon which the CTA will decide if the passenger received what they are entitled to under the APPR and the airline's tariff. For example:

If the airline had decided a flight disruption was caused by bad weather and was therefore outside its control, they would be expected to provide the CTA with a weather report or similar evidence describing that weather situation.

If the complaint is that the airline did not meet its obligations during a flight disruption, the CTA will also expect airlines to provide documentation showing the assistance and compensation they provided affected passengers, if any, and how they communicated with them.

More information on the evidence that airlines may have to provide to the CTA if there is a complaint related to a crew shortage can be found in the Supplementary Guidance: evidentiary requirement for airlines for complaints relating to crew shortages .

Annex A: Legislative and Regulatory References

Canada transportation act.

86.11 (1) The Agency shall, after consulting with the Minister, make regulations in relation to flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights,

(a) respecting the carrier’s obligation to make terms and conditions of carriage and information regarding any recourse available against the carrier, as specified in the regulations, readily available to passengers in language that is simple, clear and concise;

(b) respecting the carrier’s obligations in the case of flight delay, flight cancellation or denial of boarding, including

(i) the minimum standards of treatment of passengers that the carrier is required to meet and the minimum compensation the carrier is required to pay for inconvenience when the delay, cancellation or denial of boarding is within the carrier’s control,

(ii) the minimum standards of treatment of passengers that the carrier is required to meet when the delay, cancellation or denial of boarding is within the carrier’s control, but is required for safety purposes, including in situations of mechanical malfunctions,

(iii) the carrier’s obligation to ensure that passengers complete their itinerary when the delay, cancellation or denial of boarding is due to situations outside the carrier’s control, such as natural phenomena and security events

Air Passenger Protection Regulations

Delay, cancellation and denial of boarding, obligations — situations outside carrier’s control.

10 (1) This section applies to a carrier when there is delay, cancellation or denial of boarding due to situations outside the carrier’s control, including but not limited to the following:

(a) war or political instability;

(b) illegal acts or sabotage;

(c) meteorological conditions or natural disasters that make the safe operation of the aircraft impossible;

(d) instructions from air traffic control;

(e) a NOTAM , as defined in subsection 101.01(1) of the Canadian Aviation Regulations ;

(f) a security threat;

(g) airport operation issues;

(h) a medical emergency;

(i) a collision with wildlife;

(j) a labour disruption within the carrier or within an essential service provider such as an airport or an air navigation service provider;

(k) a manufacturing defect in an aircraft that reduces the safety of passengers and that was identified by the manufacturer of the aircraft concerned, or by a competent authority; and

(l) an order or instruction from an official of a state or a law enforcement agency or from a person responsible for airport security.

Earlier flight disruption

(2) A delay, cancellation or denial of boarding that is directly attributable to an earlier delay or cancellation that is due to situations outside the carrier's control, is considered to also be due to situations outside that carrier's control if that carrier took all reasonable measures to mitigate the impact of the earlier flight delay or cancellation.

Obligations

(3) When there is delay, cancellation or denial of boarding due to situations outside the carrier's control, it must

(a) provide passengers with the information set out in section 13;

(b) in the case of a delay of three hours or more, provide alternate travel arrangements or a refund, in the manner set out in section 18, to a passenger who desires such arrangements;

(c) in the case of a cancellation, provide alternate travel arrangements or a refund, in the manner set out in section 18; and

(d) in the case of a denial of boarding, provide alternate travel arrangements in the manner set out in section 18.

Obligations when required for safety purposes

11 (1) Subject to subsection 10(2), this section applies to a carrier when there is delay, cancellation or denial of boarding that is within the carrier's control but is required for safety purposes.

(2) A delay, cancellation or denial of boarding that is directly attributable to an earlier delay or cancellation that is within that carrier's control but is required for safety purposes, is considered to also be within that carrier's control but required for safety purposes if that carrier took all reasonable measures to mitigate the impact of the earlier flight delay or cancellation.

(3) In the case of a delay, the carrier must

(b) if a passenger is informed of the delay less than 12 hours before the departure time that is indicated on their original ticket, provide the standard of treatment set out in section 14; and

(c) if the delay is a delay of three hours or more, provide alternate travel arrangements or a refund, in the manner set out in section 17, to a passenger who desires such arrangements.

Cancellation

(4) In the case of a cancellation, the carrier must

(b) if a passenger is informed of the cancellation less than 12 hours before the departure time that is indicated on their original ticket, provide the standard of treatment set out in section 14; and

(c) provide alternate travel arrangements or a refund, in the manner set out in section 17.

Obligations when within carrier's control

12 (1) Subject to subsection 10(2), this section applies to a carrier when there is delay, cancellation or denial of boarding that is within the carrier's control but is not referred to in subsections 11(1) or (2).

(2) In the case of a delay, the carrier must

(b) if a passenger is informed of the delay less than 12 hours before the departure time that is indicated on their original ticket, provide them with the standard of treatment set out in section 14;

(c) if the delay is a delay of three hours or more, provide alternate travel arrangements or a refund, in the manner set out in section 17, to a passenger who desires such arrangements; and

(d) if a passenger is informed 14 days or less before the departure time on their original ticket that the arrival of their flight at the destination that is indicated on that original ticket will be delayed, provide the minimum compensation for inconvenience in the manner set out in section 19.

(3) In the case of a cancellation, the carrier must

(b) if a passenger is informed of the cancellation less than 12 hours before the departure time that is indicated on their original ticket, provide the standard of treatment set out in section 14;

(c) provide alternate travel arrangements or a refund, in the manner set out in section 17; and

(d) if a passenger is informed of the cancellation 14 days or less before the departure time that is indicated on their original ticket, provide the minimum compensation for inconvenience in the manner set out in section 19

Information — cancellation, delay, denial of boarding

13 (1) A carrier must provide the following information to the passengers who are affected by a cancellation, delay or a denial of boarding:

(a) the reason for the delay, cancellation or denial of boarding;

(b) the compensation to which the passenger may be entitled for the inconvenience;

(c) the standard of treatment for passengers, if any; and

(d) the recourse available against the carrier, including their recourse to the Agency.

Communication every 30 minutes

(2) In the case of a delay, the carrier must communicate status updates to passengers every 30 minutes until a new departure time for the flight is set or alternate travel arrangements have been made for the affected passenger.

New information

(3) The carrier must communicate to passengers any new information as soon as feasible.

Audible and visible announcement

(4) The information referred to in subsection (1) must be provided by means of audible announcements and, upon request, by means of visible announcements.

Method of communication

(5) The information referred to in subsection (1) must also be provided to the passenger using the available communication method that they have indicated that they prefer, including a method that is compatible with adaptive technologies intended to assist persons with disabilities.

Standards of treatment

14 (1) If paragraph 11(3)(b) or (4)(b) or 12(2)(b) or (3)(b) applies to a carrier, and a passenger has waited two hours after the departure time that is indicated on their original ticket, the carrier must provide the passenger with the following treatment free of charge:

(a) food and drink in reasonable quantities, taking into account the length of the wait, the time of day and the location of the passenger; and

(b) access to a means of communication.

Accommodations

(2) If paragraph 11(3)(b) or (4)(b) or 12(2)(b) or (3)(b) applies to a carrier and the carrier expects that the passenger will be required to wait overnight for their original flight or for a flight reserved as part of alternate travel arrangements, the air carrier must offer, free of charge, hotel or other comparable accommodation that is reasonable in relation to the location of the passenger, as well as transportation to the hotel or other accommodation and back to the airport.

Refusing or limiting treatment

(3) The carrier may limit or refuse to provide a standard of treatment referred to in subsection (1) or (2) if providing that treatment would further delay the passenger.

Alternate arrangements — within carrier's control

17 (1) If paragraph 11(3)(c), (4)(c) or (5)(c) or 12(2)(c), (3)(c) or (4)(c) applies to a carrier, it must provide to the passenger, free of charge, the following alternate travel arrangements to ensure that the passenger completes their itinerary as soon as feasible:

(a) in the case of a large carrier,

(i) a confirmed reservation for the next available flight that is operated by the original carrier, or a carrier with which the original carrier has a commercial agreement, is travelling on any reasonable air route from the airport at which the passenger is located to the destination that is indicated on the passenger's original ticket and departs within nine hours of the departure time that is indicated on that original ticket,

(ii) a confirmed reservation for a flight that is operated by any carrier and is travelling on any reasonable air route from the airport at which the passenger is located to the destination that is indicated on the passenger's original ticket and departs within 48 hours of the departure time that is indicated on that original ticket if the carrier cannot provide a confirmed reservation that complies with subparagraph (i), or

(iii) transportation to another airport that is within a reasonable distance of the airport at which the passenger is located and a confirmed reservation for a flight that is operated by any carrier and is travelling on any reasonable air route from that other airport to the destination that is indicated on the passenger's original ticket, if the carrier cannot provide a confirmed reservation that complies with subparagraphs (i) or (ii); and

(b) in the case of a small carrier, a confirmed reservation for the next available flight that is operated by the original carrier, or a carrier with which the original carrier has a commercial agreement, and is travelling on any reasonable air route from the airport at which the passenger is located to the destination that is indicated on the passenger's original ticket.

(2) If the alternate travel arrangements offered in accordance with subsection (1) do not accommodate the passenger's travel needs, the carrier must

(a) if the passenger is no longer at the point of origin that is indicated on the original ticket and the travel no longer serves a purpose because of the delay, cancellation or denial of boarding, refund the ticket and provide to the passenger, free of charge, a confirmed reservation for a flight to that point of origin that accommodates the passenger’s travel needs; and

(b) in any other case, refund the unused portion of the ticket.

Comparable services

(3) To the extent possible, the alternate travel arrangements must provide services that are comparable to those of the original ticket.

Higher class of service

(5) If the alternate travel arrangements provide for a higher class of service than the original ticket, the carrier must not request supplementary payment.

Alternate arrangements — outside carrier's control

18 (1) If paragraph 10(3)(b) or (c) applies to a carrier, it must provide to the passenger, free of charge, a confirmed reservation for the next available flight that is operated by the original carrier, or a carrier with which the original carrier has a commercial agreement, is travelling on any reasonable air route from the airport at which the passenger is located to the destination that is indicated on the passenger’s original ticket and departs within 48 hours of the departure time that is indicated on that ticket.

Passenger’s choice

(1.1) If a carrier cannot provide a confirmed reservation in accordance with subsection (1), it must, at the passenger’s choice, refund any unused portion of the ticket or provide the following alternate travel arrangements, free of charge:

(a) in the case of a large carrier, a confirmed reservation for the next available flight that is operated by any carrier and is travelling on any reasonable air route from the airport at which the passenger is located, or another airport that is within a reasonable distance of that airport, to the destination that is indicated on the passenger’s original ticket and, if the new departure is from an airport other than the one at which the passenger is located, transportation to that other airport; or,

(b) in the case of a small carrier, a confirmed reservation for the next available flight that is operated by the original carrier, or a carrier with which the original carrier has a commercial agreement, and is travelling on any reasonable air route from the airport at which the passenger is located to the destination that is indicated on the passenger’s original ticket

Return to point of origin

(1.2) However, if a passenger who chooses to be refunded is no longer at the point of origin that is indicated on the original ticket and the travel no longer serves a purpose because of the delay or cancellation, the carrier must refund the ticket and provide to the passenger, free of charge, a confirmed reservation for a flight to that point of origin that accommodates the passenger’s travel needs.

(1.3) A passenger who is eligible to be refunded under subsection (1.1) may choose a refund at any time prior to being provided with a confirmed reservation.

Denial of boarding — outside carrier’s control

(1.4) If paragraph 10(3)(d) applies to a carrier, it must provide to the passenger, free of charge, the following alternate travel arrangements to ensure that the passenger completes their itinerary as soon as feasible:

(a) in the case of a large carrier, the arrangements specified in subsection (1) or, if it cannot provide such arrangements, a confirmed reservation in accordance with paragraph (1.1)(a); or,

(b) in the case of a small carrier, a confirmed reservation in accordance with paragraph (1.1)(b).

(2) To the extent possible, the alternate travel arrangements must provide services that are comparable to those of the original ticket.

(3) If the alternate travel arrangements provide for a higher class of service than the original ticket, the carrier must not request supplementary payment.

Refund of additional services

18.1 (1) A carrier must refund the cost of any additional services purchased in connection with a passenger’s original ticket if the passenger has been provided with alternate travel arrangements under section 17 or 18 and

(a)  the passenger did not receive those services; or

(b)  those services were paid for a second time.

Refund for lower class of service

(2)  If the alternate travel arrangements provide for a lower class of service than the original ticket, the carrier must refund the difference in the cost of the applicable portion of the ticket.

Method used for refund

18.2 (1) All refunds provided under these Regulations must be paid to the person who purchased the ticket or additional service and must be paid using the method used for the original payment, unless

(a)  the person has been informed in writing of the monetary value of the original ticket or additional service and the availability of a refund by the method used for the original payment;

(b)  the refund is offered in another form that does not expire; and

(c)  the person confirms, in writing, that they have been informed of their right to receive the refund by the method used for the original payment and have chosen to receive the refund in another form.

Refund deadline

(2)  Refunds must be provided by a carrier within 30 days after the day on which the carrier becomes obligated to provide the refund.

Compensation for delay or cancellation

19 (1) If paragraph 12(2)(d) or (3)(d) applies to a carrier, it must provide the following minimum compensation:

(i) $400, if the arrival of the passenger's flight at the destination that is indicated on the original ticket is delayed by three hours or more, but less than six hours,

(ii) $700, if the arrival of the passenger's flight at the destination that is indicated on the original ticket is delayed by six hours or more, but less than nine hours, or

(iii) $1,000, if the arrival of the passenger's flight at the destination that is indicated on the original ticket is delayed by nine hours or more; and

(b) in the case of a small carrier,

(i) $125, if the arrival of the passenger's flight at the destination that is indicated on the original ticket is delayed by three hours or more, but less than six hours,

(ii) $250, if the arrival of the passenger's flight at the destination that is indicated on the original ticket is delayed by six hours or more, but less than nine hours, or

(iii) $500, if the arrival of the passenger's flight at the destination that is indicated on the original ticket is delayed by nine hours or more.

Compensation in case of refund

(2) If paragraph 12(2)(d) or (3)(d) applies to a carrier and the passenger's ticket is refunded in accordance with subsection 17(2), the carrier must provide a minimum compensation of

(a) $400, in the case of a large carrier; and

(b) $125, in the case of a small carrier.

Deadline to file request

(3) To receive the minimum compensation referred to in paragraph (1) or (2), a passenger must file a request for compensation with the carrier before the first anniversary of the day on which the flight delay or flight cancellation occurred.

Deadline to respond

(4) The carrier must, within 30 days after the day on which it receives the request, provide the compensation or an explanation as to why compensation is not payable.

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  • About the CTA

Canadian Transportation Agency

Compensation for flight delays and cancellations

Airlines must provide compensation for the inconvenience of flight cancellations and flight delays of 3 hours or more and if the disruption is within their control and not related to safety , and if the airline notified you of the disruption 14 days or less in advance.

Airlines must pay you compensation based on the length of your delay, which is determined by your arrival time at the final destination on your ticket.

Large airlines must pay:

  • $400 if the passenger arrives three or more hours late , but less than six hours
  • $700 if the passenger arrives six or more hours late , but less than nine hours
  • $1,000 if the passenger arrives nine or more hours late

If you choose to be refunded instead of rebooked, large airlines must still pay you $400.

The size of the airline is listed in the terms and conditions of your ticket (tariff). Examples of large airlines include  Air Canada (including Jazz and Rouge ), WestJet , Sunwing Airlines , Air Transat , and  Flair Airlines .

Small airlines must pay:

  • $125 if the passenger arrives three or more hours late , but less than six hours
  • $250 if the passenger arrives six or more hours late , but less than nine hours
  • $500 if the passenger arrives nine or more hours late

If you choose to be refunded instead of rebooked, small airlines must still pay you $125 .

The size of the airline is listed in the terms and conditions of your ticket (tariff). Examples of small airlines include  Canada Jetlines,  Canadian North  and Porter Airlines .

All compensation amounts are in Canadian dollars.

You have one year to make a compensation claim with the airline in writing. The airline has 30 days to respond by issuing a payment or telling you why it believes compensation is not owed.

If you have already received compensation for the same event under the passenger protection rules of another country, you cannot receive further compensation under these Canadian regulations.

Airlines must offer you compensation in monetary form — for example cash, cheque, or a deposit into your bank account. Airlines can also offer you other forms of compensation such as vouchers or rebates. Other forms of compensation offered must:

  • have a higher value than the monetary compensation required, and
  • cannot expire.

The airline must tell you in writing the amount of compensation you are owed and the value of any other form of compensation that they offer. You always have the right to choose between monetary compensation and other form(s) offered by the airline. If you choose another form, you must confirm in writing that you know that monetary compensation is available.

Claims for compensation To receive compensation for a flight delay or cancellation, you must make a claim with the airline in writing within 1 year of the incident date. The airline has 30 days to respond by issuing a payment or by telling you why it believes compensation is not owed.

Contact the airlines

If you do not receive a response from the airline within 30 days or you are not satisfied with the response, you can submit a complaint to us . We will try to facilitate a resolution between you and the airline. Learn more about the CTA's different dispute resolution processes .

Compensation for delays while travelling internationally In addition to the minimum compensation described in this guide, a passenger who is delayed while travelling internationally may also be entitled to make a claim under the Montreal or Warsaw Conventions for any damages — such as expenses — that happened because of the delay. Passengers must make these claims with the airline in writing.

Airline obligations for flight delays and cancellations are set out in the Air Passenger Protection Regulations .

File a complaint

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travel compensation for delayed flights

Vistara crisis: How to get compensation for flight delays, cancellation

The ministry of civil aviation stepped in on april 2, 2024, asking vistara to give them daily updates about the flights they're cancelling or delaying..

Listen to Story

An airline spokesperson attributed the significant number of flight cancellations and delays to various reasons including crew unavailability.

  • Vistara facing crisis due to crew shortage
  • Nearly 100 flights cancelled this week, causing passenger frustration
  • DGCA rules ensure passenger rights in case of delays, cancellations

Tata-owned full-service airline Vistara has been facing a crisis due to a shortage of crew which has resulted in numerous flight delays and cancellations over the past week.

The airline has had to cancel nearly 100 flights this week, as reported by different sources. They cancelled around 50 flights on April 1, and the count could reach 60 by Tuesday, April 2.

Many passengers, stuck and annoyed, have been venting their frustration on social media about the delays they're facing because of Vistara. Despite paying for their tickets, customers have been facing issues due to the disruption in services.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation stepped in on April 2, 2024, asking Vistara to give them daily updates about the flights they're cancelling or delaying.

To help Vistara customers facing cancelled or delayed flights, the ministry tweeted, "Ministry of Civil Aviation is keeping an eye on Vistara flight cancellations... Airlines must follow DGCA rules to make sure passengers are taken care of when flights are cancelled or delayed."

Your rights as a passenger

According to the rules laid out by the DGCA, if your Vistara flight gets cancelled:

Alternate flight or compensation - Vistara has to either get you on another flight or give you some money back along with a full refund for your ticket. Also, if you're already at the airport for your original flight, they should give you meals and drinks while you wait for the new one.

Flight delay - If your flight is late, Vistara should provide you with food and drinks, another flight, or your money back for the ticket. Depending on how long the delay is, they might also have to sort out a place for you to stay (with transport included).

Travel insurance can help

In case your flight is delayed or cancelled, having travel insurance can be a lifesaver.

Manas Kapoor, Business Head of Travel Insurance at Policybazaar.com, told The Economic Times that a travel insurance policy with coverage for flight delay can provide compensation for expenses incurred at the airport due to delays beyond the time specified in the policy.

Flight delay cover, often part of comprehensive travel insurance plans, offers a fixed benefit if your flight is delayed beyond a certain timeframe. This cover applies to delays caused by various factors such as bad weather, crew shortages, technical issues, air traffic, or operational challenges.

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American Airlines Delayed Flight Compensation: What to Know

Carissa Rawson

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money .

Flight delays are frustrating. Whether it’s because of thunderstorms or an overbooked crew, the result is the same: You don’t get to where you’re trying to go.

It’s never pleasant when things go awry, but if you’re flying on American Airlines, you have some options. Let’s look at American Airlines delayed flight compensation, your rights and other things to know.

What to know about American Airlines delayed flight compensation

1. american airlines may not owe you anything.

Although the Department of Transportation (DOT) has regulations when it comes to flight cancellations and compensation, there isn't a similar ruling for flight delays.

Recently, airlines have begun to make clearer commitments to the type of compensation you’ll receive during a flight delay with one specific caveat: These apply only to controllable delays.

This means that airlines have only guaranteed to give you compensation when things such as missing crew or maintenance issues arise. It doesn’t apply to air traffic control or weather delays.

» Learn more: How to get paid for airline delays

travel compensation for delayed flights

2. Your credit card can reimburse you

Even if American Airlines isn’t willing to reimburse you for delays, there’s a good chance your credit card will. Many travel credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance, which includes trip delay insurance, trip interruption insurance, delayed luggage insurance and more.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® card is among the best for complimentary travel insurance — simply because it provides so many protections. This includes trip delay insurance, which kicks in after a six-hour delay or one that forces you to stay overnight.

» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now

The protection caps out at $500 per person and will reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred as a result of the delay. These expenses can include:

Toiletries.

Medications.

Other personal use items you may need.

Importantly, credit card travel insurance can also cover more than one person. In Chase’s case, this means you, your partners and your legally dependent children up to age 26 are all covered as long as you charge a portion of the fare to your card.

» Learn more: What you need to know about Chase’s trip delay insurance

3. There is more than one type of compensation

American Airlines offers more than one type of compensation if your flight is canceled or delayed. If your flight is significantly delayed and you choose not to fly, you’ll be entitled to a refund. However, the DOT has not specifically defined what constitutes a "significant delay," so this may be difficult to enforce.

For controllable delays, American Airlines has made a variety of commitments to its passengers, including the provision of accommodation and food vouchers.

4. The DOT dashboard outlines your rights

The DOT maintains an up-to-date dashboard for 10 airlines outlining your rights. This provides information as to what American Airlines has committed to providing if your flight is delayed or canceled.

Here is what American Airlines has committed to providing its customers in the event of a controllable delay:

Rebook you on a new flight in the case of significant delays.

Rebook you on a partner airline or an airline with which it has an agreement in the event of a significant delay.

Give you a meal or meal voucher for a delay lasting three hours or more.

Provide you with hotel accommodations for an overnight delay.

Give you ground transportation to and from your hotel for an overnight delay.

» Learn more: Flight delay compensation — what you should get if you’re stuck

5. Delayed EU flights can compensate you

Although the DOT doesn’t have many protections for customers on flights, the European Union does. Under EU261 , airlines are required to compensate you for delays on most flights from or through the EU. The regulation also requires airlines give compensation for disrupted flights headed to the EU from outside — if the airline is an EU airline.

The amount of flight delay compensation is based on the amount of the delay and the distance of your flight.

Note that compensation is applicable only for controllable delays, such as mechanical issues. Severe weather or air traffic issues aren’t eligible for reimbursement.

6. You’re owed if you get bumped

Overbooking is a common airline practice. This means that airlines will sell more seats than they have in the hope that some passengers don’t show up. However, sometimes everyone does arrive and airlines are forced to bump passengers. They’ll first ask for volunteers; if there aren’t enough volunteers, they’ll then start bumping people involuntarily.

You have rights if you get involuntarily bumped from your flight. If you arrive within one hour of your originally scheduled arrival time, you won’t get any compensation. Any more than that, however, and the numbers start rising.

Depending on how long you end up delayed, the airline will owe you between 200% and 400% of the fare that you paid (note that there are maximums to this).

You’ll also be eligible for compensation if you were traveling on an award ticket and end up bumped. In this case, your compensation is based on the lowest cash, check or credit card payment charged for a ticket in the same class of service on your flight.

» Learn more: What to do if your flight is overbooked

American Airlines delayed flight compensation recapped

There’s no good way to deal with a flight delay. This is true on any airline, American Airlines included.

However, if your flight has been delayed for a controllable reason, you may be entitled to compensation. Do your research, check out the DOT’s dashboard, and make sure you get what you’re entitled to when American Airlines makes you late.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

2x-5x Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

75,000 Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Citibank Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Credit Card

on Citibank's application

1x Earn 1 Loyalty Point for every 1 eligible AAdvantage® mile earned from purchases.

70,000 Earn 70,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $7,000 within the first 3 months of account opening.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

1x-5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

travel compensation for delayed flights

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Daily flights from Kozhikode to Lakshadweep's Agatti for Rs 5000: Details

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Karipur: Connecting Kerala to Lakshadweep, IndiGo Airlines has announced direct daily flights from Calicut International Airport to Agatti via Kochi, from May 1 onwards. Meanwhile, the ticket booking has already begun. It is for the first time that an airline company has announced direct flights from Kozhikode to Agatti. IndiGo said that there will be daily services from Kozhikode to the beautiful archipelago. ATR (regional airplanes) aircraft that can carry up to seventy-eight passengers would be operated on this route.

The flight that departs from Karipur at 10.20 am reaches Kochi at 10.55 am. From here, the aircraft takes off at 11.25 am and lands at 1 pm in Agatti. On the same day, an aircraft departs from Agatti at 12.10 pm and reaches Kochi at 1.25 pm. The same flight takes off from Kochi at 1.45 pm and reaches Kozhikode at 2.30 pm. Currently, IndiGo also operates direct flights to Agatti from Bengaluru. This flight would return to Kozhikode via Kochi. Meanwhile, the flight that departs from Kozhikode via Kochi would return directly to Bengaluru. The ticket fare in the Kozhikode – Agatti flight would be Rs 5000 – 6000 per head. 

Daily flights from Kozhikode to Lakshadweep's Agatti for Rs 5000: Details

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IMAGES

  1. Air passenger rights: Compensation for flight delays and cancellations

    travel compensation for delayed flights

  2. How to claim compensation for flight delays

    travel compensation for delayed flights

  3. How to get airline compensation for delayed flights

    travel compensation for delayed flights

  4. Do it ON YOUR OWN

    travel compensation for delayed flights

  5. Getting United compensation for delayed flights

    travel compensation for delayed flights

  6. How to Handle an Airline Delay Like a Pro

    travel compensation for delayed flights

COMMENTS

  1. How to get compensation for delayed or canceled flights

    1,500 kilometers (932 miles) or less. 400 euros ($434) per passenger. More than 1,500 kilometers within the EU and all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometers (932-1,864 miles) 600 euros ($658) per passenger. 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) or more. Note that any compensation may be reduced by half if you accept a reroute from the ...

  2. Flight Delay Compensation: How To Get Compensated For A ...

    Delayed Departures. You are entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed for the following durations: A delay of two hours or more for a flight of 1,500 kilometers (about 932 miles) or less ...

  3. How To Get Compensation For American Airlines Flight Delays And

    Travel can be a lot of fun, but it doesn't always go to plan. When a flight gets canceled or delayed, it can be tricky to know what (if any) compensation you're entitled to. Each airline's ...

  4. Flight delayed or canceled? Here's what airline owe you (and don't)

    If a flight is significantly delayed for reasons within their control, Alaska, American, Delta, Jet Blue and United offer: Alaska and JetBlue offer the same plus some additional compensation ...

  5. Flight Delay Compensation: What to Know

    Flight delay compensation recapped. The compensation you'll get in the case of airline cancellations and delays depends on a few factors. First, the delay or cancellation generally needs to be ...

  6. Get Compensation for Delayed or Canceled Flights [2024]

    For flights to/from/within the EU, if the luggage you checked is lost, damaged, or delayed, you are entitled up to €1,300 (~$1,550) in compensation from the airline. For flights within the US, the airline has a liability limit of $3,500 (adjusted every 2 years for inflation) for baggage that is delayed, damaged, or lost on domestic flights.

  7. Are you entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed?

    Once passengers have boarded the aircraft, the compensation structure is $100 in credit for a delay between three and five hours, $175 in credit for a delay between five and six hours, or a $250 ...

  8. Airline Cancellation and Delay Dashboard

    The U.S. Department of Transportation has created a dashboard to ensure the traveling public has easy access to information about services that U.S. airlines provide to mitigate passenger inconveniences when the cause of a cancellation or delay was due to circumstances within the airline's control. A green check mark on the dashboard means an ...

  9. What to Know About Biden's Compensation Plan for Flight Delays and

    JetBlue Airways automatically notifies passengers via email if their flight qualifies for compensation and offers travel credit on a sliding scale up to $250, depending on the length of the delay ...

  10. How to Get Flight Delay Compensation

    250 euros for flights less than 1,500 km (932 miles) delayed at least three hours. 400 euros for flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km (932 to 2,175 miles) delayed at least three hours. 600 euros for ...

  11. The Guide to Getting Delta Flight Delay Compensation

    Travel insurance could be a beneficial backup resource since flight delay compensation isn't guaranteed and requires additional steps. » Learn more: How to find the best travel insurance 7.

  12. Flight Delay Compensation in the US: Are You Eligible and

    In the EU, airlines are obligated to pay between €250 to €600 in flight delay compensation, under EU261, depending on the flight distance and delay length. In the UK, the UK 261 regulation stipulates that airlines must pay between £220 and £520 to compensate passengers in the event of a 3 or more-hour delay.

  13. How To Get Compensation From Delta For Flight Delays

    Airlines determine compensation for flight delays on a case-by-case basis. But as a rule of thumb, only expect compensation when the delay is the airline's fault and lasts longer than three hours.

  14. Fly Rights

    These rules may differ among carriers. They include provisions such as check-in deadlines, refund procedures, responsibility for delayed flights, and many other things. Domestic Travel. For domestic travel, an airline may provide all of its contract terms on or with your ticket at the time you buy it. Some small "commuter" carriers use this system.

  15. Refunds

    Airlines and ticket agents are required to make refunds promptly. For airlines, "prompt" is defined as being within 7 business days if a passenger paid by credit card, and within 20 days if a passenger paid by cash or check. For ticket agents, prompt is not defined. This may be addressed in a future DOT rulemaking.

  16. Delayed or Canceled Flight

    Delayed or Canceled Flight Guidance. We're here to support you every step of the way. This section will provide instruction on how to manage a flight delay or cancellation occurring within 72 hours of your scheduled departure. At times we may change our flight schedule to better accommodate your needs, but we're here to assist you if you ...

  17. What to Do if Your Flight Was Canceled or Delayed

    First, you have a right to compensation or being rebooked on a new flight. Airlines aren't required to compensate passengers when flights are delayed or canceled due to problems deemed beyond the ...

  18. How Southwest Flight Delay Compensation Works

    You're covered for up to $500 per ticket whether you pay for all or a portion of the flight with the card. Equipment failure, inclement weather, labor strikes and hijacking are covered. The ...

  19. Claim compensation if your flight's delayed or cancelled

    If you do take the flight. You can claim up to £520 in compensation if the delay is the airline's fault - depending on the distance and destination of your flight, and how late it arrived. It might have been your airline's fault if there was a technical problem, or they overbooked.

  20. Flight Delays and Cancellations: A Guide

    2. Types of flight delays and cancellations. When a flight is delayed or cancelled (including before the day of travel), an airline has minimum obligations to passengers that could include certain kinds of assistance (standards of treatment), rebooking or refunds, and up to $1,000 in compensation for inconvenience.

  21. Compensation for flight delays and cancellations

    Airlines must pay you compensation based on the length of your delay, which is determined by your arrival time at the final destination on your ticket. Large airlines must pay: $400 if the passenger arrives three or more hours late, but less than six hours. $700 if the passenger arrives six or more hours late, but less than nine hours.

  22. United Flight Delay Compensation: What to Know

    2. United can offer multiple types of compensation. Although the DOT doesn't require that airlines — including United — provide you with any compensation if your flight is delayed, that doesn ...

  23. Air passenger rights

    EU air passenger rights apply: If your flight is within the EU and is operated either by an EU or a non-EU airline; If your flight arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline; If your flight departs from the EU to a non-EU country operated by an EU or a non-EU airline; If you have not already received benefits (compensation, re-routing, assistance from the airline ...

  24. Vistara crisis: How to get compensation for flight delays, cancellation

    Tata-owned full-service airline Vistara has been facing a crisis due to a shortage of crew which has resulted in numerous flight delays and cancellations over the past week. The airline has had to cancel nearly 100 flights this week, as reported by different sources. They cancelled around 50 flights on April 1, and the count could reach 60 by ...

  25. American Airlines Delayed Flight Compensation

    Flights from 1,500 to 3,500 kilometers. 400 euros (about $440). Flights longer than 3,500 kilometers. 600 euros (about $660). Note that compensation is applicable only for controllable delays ...

  26. Daily flights from Kozhikode to Lakshadweep's Agatti for Rs 5000

    Meanwhile, the flight that departs from Kozhikode via Kochi would return directly to Bengaluru. The ticket fare in the Kozhikode - Agatti flight would be Rs 5000 - 6000 per head. The comments posted here/below/in the given space are not on behalf of Onmanorama. The person posting the comment will be in sole ownership of its responsibility.