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Martin Lewis of Moneysavingexpert.com: Can you claim back hundreds of pounds for a delayed or cancelled flight?

PUBLISHED: 14:04 07 September 2018 | UPDATED: 16:06 07 September 2018

Martin Lewis, founder of moneysavingexpert.com

Martin Lewis, founder of moneysavingexpert.com

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These simple guidelines from Moneysavingexpert’s Martin Lewis could help you claim back hundreds of pounds from cancelled or delayed flights.

If you endured a frustrating wait in an airport this summer because of a flight delay or cancellation, you may be entitled to compensation. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.If you endured a frustrating wait in an airport this summer because of a flight delay or cancellation, you may be entitled to compensation. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

Summer’s now over, and sadly there’s little you can do to repair a holiday ruined by flight delay or cancellation.

Strikes like those which affected Ryanair this summer can cause difficulties, but many passengers are entitled to up to £550 per person compensation.

In fact this applies even for delays as far back as 2012.

This is not usually that difficult to do. I get positive feedback all the time, such as Andy who tweeted me: “@MartinSLewis Quick thanks. Followed your advice. Just received 2 x £540 for flight delays. Thomas Cook dealt with it very quickly too.”

The easy rules apply to EU regulated flights

This is all about EU regulation 261/2004 – and it’s important to mention that rule in any complaint you make as it has specific rules (and that’s due to move into UK law once we leave the EU).

This means you can claim a fixed amount of compensation if you meet certain criteria below, for flights going back to 2012.

Here are the key things to know:

1) It must be an ‘EU regulated flight’. That means the flight must have left from an EU airport (including all UK airports, of course) or arrived at an EU airport (but in this case it must be an EU airline).

2) It must have arrived three hours or more late. It doesn’t matter how late you leave, it’s all about how late you arrived. So if you’re on a flight that takes off four hours late but arrives 2 hours 55minutes late, you’re not over the three hours needed to get compensation. And technically the time that counts is when the door opens to get off the plane.

3) It must have been the airline’s fault to claim. So things like bad weather, airport staff strikes or political problems doesn’t count. However, things that are under the airline’s control such as staffing problems, poor planning, and now even technical problems caused by not fixing regular wear and tear all count.

Ryanair has already declared it won’t pay compensation for the strike by some of its Irish pilots in July as it says it wasn’t at fault.

Yet the regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, has said you should get it.

So if it rejects you in the first instance just carry on to the next stage (see below).

4) You are entitled to cash. Airlines sometimes offer vouchers, so unless they’re offering more, you can formally say you want cash.

How do I put in a claim?

My full help including a totally free tool to do this is at www.mse.me/flightdelays.

But if you want to do it manually, first, write to the airline stating the details of your delay and asking for the compensation.

If rejected (that’s common), then depending on where you flew from and the airline you flew with, you can go to the relevant regulators for that country, or one of several new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) schemes many airlines have signed up with.

How much compensation can I get?

The amount you get is fixed solely on the flight length and delay time. So a 1,000km flight delayed by three hours is €250 (£220ish) per person, while a 4,000km flight delayed for five hours is €600 (£540ish) per person.

What if my flight was cancelled?

Then you’re entitled to the choice of a refund or a replacement flight – and that applies whether it is the airline’s fault or not.

Is this fair on the airlines?

I don’t want to push unnecessary compensation culture. But if you’re a family with young kids who spent 24 hours in a smelly airport lounge with kids sleeping on the seats, then push for your rights.

Everyone should make their own ethical choice of whether to take up the cudgels.

Martin Lewis is the founder and chairman of MoneySavingExpert.com.

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