Anyone who had been watching my Instagram stories in August would have seen my excitement for my trip to Cape Town South Africa go from joyful and expectant to stressful and tiring real quick. Why? Delays on my first outbound flight from London meant I would miss my connecting flight to Cape Town from Doha, and land in South Africa a day later than planned! Though I haven’t had many flights delayed, I knew enough to know that on this occasion the delays were so long and unreasonable that I had to be owed compensation. So what should you do if your flight has been delayed or cancelled and you think you may be owed compensation?
1. Confirm if you are eligible for compensation
It is better to approach airlines for compensation knowing exactly what you are owed once you know you are eligible. I used Citizen’s Advice to double check my eligibility for compensation, as it is dependent on:
a) the reason for the delays – the delay has to be the fault of the airline to gain compensation. If the delay is not the airline’s fault, you will not be eligible for compensation (for example, delays due to weather conditions), though in this instance you could check with your travel insurance to see your options!
b) the flight distance AND length of the delay – your eligibility is dependent on a combination of the distance of your destination and the number of hours delayed to reaching your final destination
I was eligible because I had a text message from Qatar Airways informing me that my flight would be delayed due to the late arrival of the aircraft – this is a ‘knock-on effect’ delay, and confirms the delay to be the fault of the airline. Additionally, my flight distance was 12,600km and the delay time was nearly 24 hours so I knew I was eligible for the maximum value of 600 EUR. Yay!
2. Take note of your flight and booking numbers
When contacting the airline, it will be beneficial to give them all the necessary information about the flight in the first email to avoid going back and forth with them – they can take up to 28 days to respond as it is. With connecting flights, you are eligible for compensation if you booked the two (or more) flights as sold rather than booked separately in parts so having the booking reference will show that the connecting flight were booked as sold.
3. Confirm the contact details of the airline, or the claim process
If you’ve been told by the airline that the flights have been delayed, ask someone at the desk how to claim compensation for the delay. The email address for Qatar Airways is firstname.lastname@example.org. Other airlines have an online process:
- British Airways have a claim form
- EasyJet have a claim form
- KLM have a claim form
- Ryanair have a claim form
- Virgin Airways have a claim form
4. If you have to send an email, use this template:
SUBJECT: [NUMBER OF HOURS DELAYED] – [FLIGHT NUMBER(S)], [BOOKING REFERENCE], [PASSENGER FIRST NAME, LAST NAME]
To Whom It May Concern,
I would like to claim compensation for the delay of my departure flight [OUTBOUND FLIGHT NUMBER] from [OUTBOUND AIRPORT AND OUTBOUND AIRPORT CODE] to [ARRIVAL AIRPORT AND ARRIVAL AIRPORT CODE] on [SCHEDULED DEPARTURE DATE] which was scheduled to leave at [SCHEDULED TIME] but left at [TIME]. Flight [OUTBOUND FLIGHT NUMBER] arrived in [ARRIVAL AIRPORT CODE] at [ACTUAL ARRIVAL TIME] on [ACTUAL ARRIVAL DATE].
*If you had a connecting flight, include the following* This meant I was unable to make my connecting flight [SECOND OUTBOUND FLIGHT NUMBER] to [SECOND ARRIVAL AIRPORT AND ARRIVAL AIRPORT CODE] which was scheduled to leave at [SCHEDULED DATE AND TIME].
I have been informed by the airline (yourselves) that the delays were due to [INSERT REASON GIVEN BY AIRLINE FOR DELAY] as notified by [INSERT SOURCE OF DELAY INFORMATION]. This will mean there is a delay of [INSERT NUMBER OF HOURS] hours from the intended arrival at my final destination. For these reasons, I believe I am eligible for the [STATE THE VALUE YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR] in accordance with EU Regulation 261/2004 (EC 261). My flights were booked with the reference [INSERT FLIGHT BOOKING REFERENCE].
Please confirm and acknowledge my email at the earliest opportunity, as any delay in response will result in me taking up this matter with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
I’m pleased to confirm that after sending the email above to Qatar Airways, the airline have accepted my claim and I should receive the compensation back within 6 weeks.
Have you had to make a compensation claim for a delayed or cancelled flight? How easy was the process?