Flight delay compensation: what you need to know


We’ve done the research on flight delay compensation to help guests determine their best moves when facing a delay. Read on to learn more about how you’ll be compensated for delays and cancellations in different parts of the world.

Flight delays and cancellations can be stressful. Image credit: izusek/iStock
Flight delays and cancellations can be stressful. Image credit: izusek/iStock

Most travelers dread having a flight delay or cancellation ruin their plans. If you’re lucky, you’ll only face a short delay, and your travel schedule won’t be interrupted. If the delay is longer, or worse, the flight is cancelled all together, you might want to look into whether you can be compensated for your trouble.

U.S. vs EU: Can I get compensation for a delayed flight?

Many airlines offer some form of compensation for a delayed flight or cancellation, but whether this is guaranteed depends on where you’ll be departing from. When a country or territory has its own laws regarding compensation for travelers, the airlines must adhere to those laws for all flights leaving from those areas. This is the case even if the airline doesn’t have its own policies regarding compensation.

Flight delay compensation in the United States

The U.S. Department of Transportation has certain rules in place to protect travelers from being taken advantage of by airlines. These rules do not include a guarantee of compensation for a delayed flight. Many airlines still provide compensation to promote positive relations with their guests.

For example, American Airlines will provide overnight accommodation if a long delay occurs due to problems they are responsible for. However, if a delay is caused by circumstances beyond their control, like bad weather, you may not receive compensation.

If your flight is cancelled all together, you’ll most likely be transferred to the next available flight. This might not be a solution if the delay will cause you to miss the appointment or event your trip was based around. If you choose to cancel instead of traveling, U.S. law requires the airline to reimburse your ticket and baggage costs.

The airline is not required to refund other losses that occurred due to the delay or cancellation, such as non-refundable resort reservations, ground transportation costs, concert tickets, and similar expenses.

EU flight delay compensation

According to the Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 within EU law, airlines within the EU must compensate travelers from 250 EUR to 600 EUR for flight cancellations and delays lasting longer than two hours. The amount of compensation you’ll receive will depend on the distance of the flight you were supposed to take. When you need to travel a great distance, rearranging your plans will generally cause more hardship as it’s more difficult to make up for lost time.

They also must reimburse guests who were bumped from flights due to overbooking. When appropriate, the airline must provide guests with snacks and refreshments as well as accommodation.

Along with following the EU rules, some European airlines do their best to ensure a smooth experience for guests requesting late flight compensation. For example, British Airways compensation plan includes forwarding your special meal requests, seating preferences, and disability assistance requests on to your next flight.

Compensation for flight delays and cancellations varies across countries and airlines. Image credit: izusek/iStock
Compensation for flight delays and cancellations varies across countries and airlines. Image credit: izusek/iStock

Canceled flight compensation in the Far East

If you’ll be flying out of an Asian country, you won’t necessarily have the same guarantees as you would flying out of the U.S. or the EU. Many Asian countries don’t have laws regarding traveler compensation. However, Asian airlines with flights that depart from countries or territories with their own regulations must follow the regulations for those flights.

Some individual Asian countries, such as Indonesia, have created their own laws.

Regardless of the airline, if you have a flight out of Indonesia that is delayed by more than four hours, and the airline is at fault for the delay, the airline will pay 300,000 Rp to compensate.

If you lose your seat due to the airline overbooking your flight, the airline will put you on the next available flight, making an effort to get you to your final destination at the same time as your original flight. If that isn’t possible, you’ll be provided with food and hotel vouchers as well as ground transportation to get you to and from the airport.

Even if you’re not flying out of a regulated area, many of the big Asian airlines do offer compensation for their guests.

China Airlines provides reimbursements

If your China Airlines flight is canceled, or a delay causes you to miss a connecting flight, the airline will offer to arrange a later flight or fully reimburse the cost if you choose to remain where you are. They also offer meals, hotel accommodations, and access to the airline’s VIP lounge. If you need help communicating with someone at your final destination, they can provide you with telephone and fax services.

China Southern Airlines helps best they can

Another big Asian airline that offers compensation is China Southern Airlines. This airline is already known for being good to their guests. They offer free hotel stays for long stopovers on their routes.

When it comes to compensation for canceled and delayed flights, there are three basic scenarios. If the delay is caused by the airline, passengers will be provided with free food and accommodation to hold them over until their next flight. If it was caused by other circumstances, passengers will be expected to pay for their accommodation and food, but they’ll receive assistance from the airline in booking a room or finding ground transportation. If the delay occurred at a stopover, the airline will always provide food and accommodation.

Other major airlines operating out of Asia, such as Korean Air, offer similar compensation plans.

What caused a flight delay could be key to how you are compensated. Image credit: izusek/iStock
What caused a flight delay could be key to how you are compensated. Image credit: izusek/iStock

Flight delay compensation in the land Down Under

Although there are no Australian laws regulating compensation for delayed or canceled flights, most major Australian airlines operate with similar standards as the other airlines we’ve mentioned. Nothing is guaranteed, but you’ll typically be compensated if the delay is caused by the airline. This includes situations like mechanical failures and overbooking flights. If the delay was caused by outside circumstances, like bad weather, you’ll be expected to cover the costs.

New Zealand goes above and beyond for travelers

Nearby New Zealand has its own rules for flight compensation, at least for domestic flights, and they basically match the procedures followed in Australia and other countries. You’re compensated if the airline is at fault, and you’re not compensated for other situations.

However, in New Zealand, this compensation covers any extra costs that occurred as the result of the delay, such as meals, ground transportation fares, and any tickets or bookings that were missed due to the delay.
Whether you’re heading to a hotel due to an airport delay or journeying to a resort at your final destination, Blacklane is here for you. We provide quality ground transportation at a price you can afford. Delay or no delay, it’s always great to save time and avoid hassles at the airport, so consider booking Blacklane PASS, a high-quality airport concierge service that can improve your travel experience.