24 August 2023

What to do if your flight is cancelled: A complet guide to asserting your rights and resolving the situation

Claims, in99’s advice -

Gema Alcaraz

Qué hacer si me cancelan un vuelo

If you’ve ever found yourself in the distressing situation of a flight cancellation, you understand the stress it can bring. Cancelled flights can lead to uncertainty, but don’t worry, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll provide solutions and walk you through step-by-step on what to do if your flight is cancelled. From your passenger rights to the claims process and compensation options, we’ll address all your questions to help you effectively manage this situation and achieve the best possible outcome.

Passenger rights: Knowing your rights and claiming what’s due

When your flight gets cancelled, it’s essential to know your rights as a passenger. The European Union (EU) has established regulations that protect passengers in case of flight cancellations, both within and outside the EU. These rights might vary based on flight distance and the notice period before cancellation. Here’s a list of the key passenger rights:

  1. Right to refund or alternative transportation: If your flight is cancelled, you have the right to choose between a full ticket refund at the original price or alternative transportation to your final destination as quickly as possible and under comparable conditions.
  2. Assistance and care: The airline is obligated to provide you with suitable assistance during the waiting period, including food, drinks, accommodation (if needed), and access to communication.
  3. Compensation for flight cancellation: In some cases, you might be entitled to additional financial compensation, depending on the flight distance and the advance notice of cancellation. However, exceptional situations like certain strikes or extreme weather conditions can exempt the airline from this responsibility.
  4. Right to information: The airline must inform you about the flight cancellation and your rights as a passenger. They should also provide a written explanation of the cancellation and the available options.

It’s important to note that these rights apply to all passengers, whether you’re traveling with Ryanair, Vueling, Air Europa, or any other airline within the EU.

What to do if your flight is cancelled: How to file a claim and what documentation I need

what to do if my flight is cancelled

What should you do if your flight is cancelled? This is a common question when you find yourself in this situation. We’ll guide you through the steps. Once your flight is cancelled, it’s crucial to file a complaint with the airline to assert your rights and seek appropriate compensation or resolution. Here’s a list of steps to effectively file a claim:

  • Gather all information: Collect all documents related to your flight, especially if you missed a connecting flight. Having comprehensive documentation will support your claim:
  • Ticket
  • Boarding pass
  • Proof of purchase
  • Any other relevant information that can back up your claim
  • Contact the airline: Ideally, get in touch with the airline as soon as possible to inform them about the flight cancellation. You can do this through customer service, the airline’s website, or the airport counter.
  • Stay calm and polite: While the situation can be frustrating, it’s essential to remain calm and express your concerns in a polite and respectful manner. Empathy and respect can expedite a solution.

Important: Keep everything in writing. For instance, the alternative flights they offer you or if they refuse to provide the rights we discussed earlier. You can request them to send you a copy of everything via email.

Compensation options: What to expect after filing your claim

Once you’ve submitted your claim, you might wonder what kind of compensation you can expect. Compensation options can vary based on the situation and airline policies, but here are some possible solutions:

  • Ticket refund or alternative transportation: If you choose not to travel due to flight cancellation, you’re entitled to a full ticket refund at the original price or alternative transportation to your destination as quickly as possible, either through the same airline or a different one.
  • Financial compensation: In certain cases, you might be eligible for additional economic compensation for flight cancellation. This compensation varies based on flight distance and advance notice of cancellation. For cancellations within 14 days, here are the compensations based on distance:
Flight distanceCompensation
Less than 1500 km250 €
Between 1500 km and 3500 km400 €
More than 3500 km600 €
  • Assistance during the wait: While waiting for an alternative flight, the airline must provide you with assistance, including food, drinks, accommodation (if necessary), and access to communication. They should also cover transportation back home if you ultimately couldn’t fly.
  • Class upgrade: Sometimes, the airline might offer a class upgrade on the alternative flight as compensation. However, be cautious about accepting, as this might forfeit your rights to a larger compensation.

It’s important to reiterate that economic compensation doesn’t always apply in all circumstances. There can be exceptional situations. Let’s discuss them.

What situations are considered extraordinary for flight cancellations?

On certain occasions, flight cancellations may be due to exceptional circumstances such as specific strikes, extreme weather conditions, or unforeseen events. In these circumstances, the airline may not be obligated to provide additional economic compensation. However, you always retain the right to a full ticket refund or alternative transportation.

Extraordinary Situations
Airport or Airspace Closure
Political Instability
Unavoidable Security Risks
Strikes (only certain ones)
Bird Strikes on Engines
Adverse Weather Conditions

Important: Not all strikes are considered extraordinary circumstances. For instance, strikes by airline staff or pilots might not qualify. However, a strike by air traffic controllers is considered extraordinary.

Reimbursement timeline: When will you receive compensation or refund?

The timeline for reimbursement or compensation can vary depending on the airline and the circumstances of the cancellation. In some cases, you might receive compensation in a few days, while in others, it could take weeks or even months. It’s important to be patient and watch for airline communications.

If you’ve submitted a written complaint and haven’t received a satisfactory response or solution within a reasonable timeframe, we can help. It’s quite common for airlines not to provide suitable solutions, not respond, or even attempt to offer less compensation than deserved. We calculate your compensation for free in less than 99 seconds and handle the claim on your behalf, so you can focus on other matters.

Assistance while waiting: What to expect during an alternative flight wait

plane flying

While waiting for an alternative flight due to a cancellation, the airline must provide appropriate assistance. Here’s a list of services you might receive:

  1. Food and drink: The airline should provide suitable food and beverages during the wait, depending on the delay duration.
  2. Accommodation: If the wait is long and involves an overnight stay at the airport or elsewhere, the airline should offer accommodation in a hotel, including transportation between the airport and the hotel.
  3. Communication: The airline should allow you access to communication channels, such as phone calls or internet access, to keep you informed and connected with your loved ones.
  4. Itinerary reorganization: If you have connecting flights or missed connections due to the cancellation, the airline should assist in reorganizing your itinerary to reach your final destination.

Conclusion: Taking action and asserting your rights

In conclusion, if your flight is cancelled, it’s essential to know your passenger rights and take action to secure appropriate compensation or resolution. Here’s a summary of key steps to navigate this situation:

  1. Learn about your rights: Familiarize yourself with your passenger rights in case of flight cancellation. The European Union offers protection to passengers in these circumstances, and knowing your specific rights is crucial.
  2. File a claim: If you’re entitled to compensation or a refund, file a claim with the airline as soon as possible. Attach all necessary documentation to support your case and communicate your claim in writing.
  3. Be patient yet persistent: The process of receiving compensation or a response from the airline can take time. Strike a balance between patience and persistence while tracking the progress of your claim and communicating with the airline when necessary.
  4. Adjust travel plans: Explore options to adjust your travel plans, such as booking another flight, changing dates, or rearranging connections if needed.
  5. Keep records of correspondence: Save copies of all communications with the airline and relevant documents for your claim. This will assist you in case you need to escalate a complaint to authorities.

Flight cancelled? Up to €600 compensation


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Remember, as a passenger, you have rights, and the airline is obligated to uphold them. The key lies in being informed, proactive, and persistent to achieve a fair solution in the event of a flight cancellation.

We hope this guide on what to do if your flight is cancelled has been useful and valuable in navigating the situation of flight cancellation. We understand how stressful it can be, but armed with the right information and tools, you can approach this experience with more calmly and higher chances of achieving a satisfactory resolution.

Additionally, each case can be unique, and in exceptional situations like specific strikes or unforeseen events, compensations might vary.

At in99, we’re dedicated to providing valuable and high-quality information to assist individuals like you in challenging situations like these. If you’re unsure about whether you’re entitled to compensation, you can discover it through our form. We wish you a safe and smooth journey without any hiccups.

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