Flight delays

If your flight is delayed, EU law may entitle you to care and assistance during the delay (which means food, drink and accommodation). Depending on the length and cause of the delay, you may also be able to claim a lump sum in compensation.


Short-haul flight

If your short-haul flight is delayed, EU law may entitle you to care and assistance during the delay (which means food, drink and accommodation). Depending on the length and cause of the delay, you may also be able to claim a lump sum in compensation. 

Is your short-haul flight covered by EU law?  

This page explains your rights under EU law when flying a short-haul journey.

Any flight that covers under 1,500km is short-haul. The distance is sometimes shown on your flight confirmation, or you can   check it online.

To be covered by EU law, your flight must be either:

  • departing from an EU airport and operated by any airline,  
    or
  • arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline

(Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.)

Your entitlements   

If the law covers your short-haul flight, your airline must look after you once you have been   delayed by more than two hours.

This means they must provide:

  • A reasonable amount of   food and drink (often provided in the form of vouchers)
  • A means for you to   communicate (often by refunding the cost of your calls)
  • Accommodation, if you're delayed overnight (usually in a nearby hotel)
  • Transport to and from the accommodation (or your home, if you are able to return there)

The airline must provide you with these items until it is able to fly you to your destination, no matter how long the delay lasts or what has caused it.

How it works in practice 

If your flight is delayed, many airlines will provide vouchers for you to buy food and drink. If you require accommodation, they may book a hotel and arrange transportation for you.

Sometimes airlines are unable to arrange care and assistance for all passengers. This can happen when staff are stretched during major disruption.

If this happens, in our view you have the right to organise reasonable care and assistance yourself, then claim the cost back later. If you end up paying for things yourself,   keep every receipt and do not spend more than is reasonable. Airlines are unlikely to refund you for things like luxury hotels or alcohol. Some will provide guidance on reasonable costs.

Occasionally, airlines refuse to provide care and assistance. If your airline does this, but you are sure you are entitled to help, you can organise it yourself and claim the cost back later. Always keep receipts in this situation.

However, it can take time to complain and get your money back.  

If the cause of your delay gives you grounds for compensation, you can claim a lump sum depending on the length of the delay.

  • For delays of under three hours, you cannot claim compensation
  • For delays of more than three hours, you can claim €250

The delay length is calculated using the time the flight arrives at its destination (this is based on the time at which at least one door of the aircraft is opened) — not the departure time.

How it works in practice 

If you think you have a right to compensation, you will need to lodge a claim with your airline. If they agree you should receive compensation, they will pay you.

It's best to contact your airline or check its website to find out how to apply for compensation. Many airlines will ask you to fill in a form, which is usually the fastest way to claim.

If there's no standard claim form, send the airline a letter. Our standard letter is a good template to help you claim compensation. You can also use it for emails.

The five-hour refund rule  

Once your short-haul flight has been delayed for more than five hours, you are entitled to a refund if you no longer wish to travel.  
You will also receive a refund for any unused parts of your booking (for instance, the return flight), and a flight back to your departure airport if you've already completed part of your journey.

Compensation for infants

ICETRA view is that compensation is payable at the same rate as that of adults for infants on an infant fare.

Medium-haul fligh

If your medium-haul flight is delayed, EU law may entitle you to care and assistance during the delay (which means food, drink and accommodation). Depending on the length and cause of the delay, you may also be able to claim a lump sum in compensation. 

Is your medium-haul flight covered by EU law? 

This page explains your rights under EU law when flying a medium-haul journey.

Any flight that covers 1,500km – 3,500km is medium-haul. The distance is sometimes shown on your flight confirmation, or you can   check it online.

To be covered by EU law, your flight must be either:

  • departing from an EU airport and operated by any airline    
    or
  • arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline

(Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.) 

Your entitlements 

If the law covers your medium-haul flight, your airline must look after you once you have been delayed by more than three hours.  

This means they must provide:

  • A reasonable amount of   food and drink (often provided in the form of vouchers)  
  • A means for you to   communicate (often by refunding the cost of your calls)  
  • Accommodation, if you're delayed overnight (usually in a nearby hotel)  
  • Transport to and from the accommodation (or your home, if you are able to return there)

The airline must provide you with these items until it is able to fly you to your destination, no matter how long the delay lasts or what has caused it.

How it works in practice 

If your flight is delayed, many airlines will provide vouchers for you to buy food and drink. If you require accommodation, they may book a hotel and arrange transportation for you.

Sometimes airlines are unable to arrange care and assistance for all passengers. This can happen when staff are stretched during major disruption.

If this happens, in our view you have the right to organise reasonable care and assistance yourself, then claim the cost back later. If you end up paying for things yourself,   keep every receipt and do not spend more than is reasonable. Airlines are unlikely to refund you for things like luxury hotels or alcohol. Some will provide guidance on reasonable costs.

Occasionally, airlines refuse to provide care and assistance. If your airline does this, but you are sure you are entitled to help, you can organise it yourself and claim the cost back later. Always keep receipts in this situation.

However, it can take time to complain and get your money back.

Claiming compensation 

If the cause of your delay gives you grounds for compensation, you can claim a lump sum depending on the length of the delay.

  • For delays of under three hours, you cannot claim compensation  
  • For delays of more than three hours, you can claim €400

The delay length is calculated using the time the flight arrives at its destination (this is based on the time at which at least one door of the aircraft is opened) — not the departure time. 

How it works in practice 

If you think you have a right to compensation, you will need to lodge a claim with your airline. If they agree you should receive compensation, they will pay you.

It's best to contact your airline or check its website to find out how to apply for compensation. Many airlines will ask you to fill in a form, which is usually the fastest way to claim.

If there's no standard claim form, send your airline a letter. Our standard letter is a good template to help you claim compensation.

The five-hour refund rule

Once your medium-haul flight has been delayed for more than five hours, you are entitled to a refund if you no longer wish to travel.  
You will also receive a refund for any unused parts of your booking (for instance, the return flight), and a flight back to your departure airport if you've already completed part of your journey.

Compensation for infants

ICETRA view is that compensation is payable at the same rate as that of adults for infants on an infant fare.


Long-haul flight

If your long-haul flight is delayed, EU law may entitle you to care and assistance during the delay (which means food, drink and accommodation). Depending on the length and cause of the delay, you may also be able to claim a lump sum in compensation. 

Is your long-haul flight covered by EU law? 

This page explains your rights under EU law when flying a long-haul journey.

Any flight that covers over 3,500km is long-haul. The distance is sometimes shown on your flight confirmation, or you can   check it online.

To be covered by EU law, your flight must be either:

  • departing from an EU airport and operated by any airline,  
    or
  • arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline

(Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.)

Your entitlements  

If the law covers your long-haul flight, your airline must look after you once you have been delayed by more than four hours.  

This means they must provide:

  • A reasonable amount of   food and drink (often provided in the form of vouchers)
  • A means for you to   communicate (often by refunding the cost of your calls)
  • Accommodation, if you're delayed overnight (usually in a nearby hotel)
  • Transport to and from the accommodation (or your home, if you are able to return there)

The airline must provide you with these items until it is able to fly you to your destination, no matter how long the delay lasts or what has caused it.

How it works in practice 

If your flight is delayed, many airlines will provide vouchers for you to buy food and drink. If you require accommodation, they may book a hotel and arrange transportation for you.

Sometimes airlines are unable to arrange care and assistance for all passengers. This can happen when staff are stretched during major disruption.

If this happens, in our view you have the right to organise reasonable care and assistance yourself, then claim the cost back later. If you end up paying for things yourself,   keep every receipt and do not spend more than is reasonable. Airlines are unlikely to refund you for things like luxury hotels or alcohol. Some will provide guidance on reasonable costs.

Occasionally, airlines refuse to provide care and assistance. If your airline does this, but you are sure you are entitled to help, you can organise it yourself and claim the cost back later. Always keep receipts in this situation.

However, it can take time to complain and get your money back.

Claiming compensation 

If the cause of your delay gives you grounds for compensation, you can claim a lump sum depending on the length of the delay.

  • For delays of under three hours, you cannot claim compensation  
  • For delays of three to four hours, you can claim €300  
  • For delays of more than four hours, you can claim €600

The delay length is calculated using the time the flight arrives at its destination (this is based on the time at which at least one door of the aircraft is opened) — not the departure time. 

How it works in practice 

If you think you have a right to compensation, you will need to lodge a claim with your airline. If they agree you should receive compensation, they will pay you.

It's best to contact your airline or check its website to find out how to apply for compensation. Many airlines will ask you to fill in a form, which is usually the fastest way to claim.

If there's no standard claim form, send the airline a letter. Our standard letter is a good template to help you claim compensation.

The five-hour refund rule  

Once your long-haul flight has been delayed for more than five hours, you are entitled to a refund if you no longer wish to travel.

You will also receive a refund for any unused parts of your booking (for instance, the return flight), and a flight back to your departure airport if you've already completed part of your journey. 

Compensation for infants

ICETRA view is that compensation is payable at the same rate as that of adults for infants on an infant fare.


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