Montana Brown reveals her flight has been cancelled because of the air traffic control chaos – throwing her summer holiday into doubt

By Jessica Hamilton

UK airspace has been hit by a network-wide failure for air traffic control systems on one of the busiest travel days of the year. 

The system failure is expected to cause disruption for the rest of the day, as the UK will see flights delayed and cancelled, with the mayhem spreading around Europe.  

As the chaos continues, many will be wondering if they can claim compensation. But what are your rights? Read on to find out.

Can I claim compensation? 

If you’re flight is delayed, your airline should offer you support and, according to Citizens Advice, you may be able to claim compensation if your flight was:

  • Leaving from the UK (regardless of the airline) 
  • Leaving from the EU, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland (regardless of the airline)
  • Arriving in the UK and was with a UK or EU airline 
  • Arriving in the EU and was with a UK airline 

If you’re on a non-UK flight which connects to a UK flight, you can usually receive compensation if you booked both flights as a single booking, if the delay was the airline’s fault and if you’re delayed for more than 12 hours.  

If your flight is delayed, your airline has to offer food and drink, access to phone calls and emails and accommodation if you’re delayed overnight, as well as journeys between the airport and hotel. 

However, you’re unlikely to get compensation if the delay was because of something outside the airline’s control.

According to EU Regulation EC 261/2004, disruptions caused by things like extreme weather, airport or air traffic control employee strikes or other ‘extraordinary circumstances’ are not eligible for compensation.

How much could I be entitled to? 

In cases where the airline is at fault for a delay, passengers could receive the following compensation. 

  • 3 hours or more, less than 1,500km: £220
  • 3 hours or more, between 1,500 and 3,500km: £350
  • 4 hours or more, more than 3500km: £520
  • Less than 4 hours, more than 3,500km £260 

If your flight is delayed for 5 hours or more you can claim £520 in compensation if the delay is the airline’s fault and you take flight. 

If you don’t take the flight and the airline is at fault, they should give you a full refund for the flight and any other flights from the same airline that you won’t use. 

If you are part-way through your journey, they should fund a flight back to the airport you originally departed from. 

Alternatively, if your flight is cancelled you may be entitled to a full refund or a replacement flight. 

How can I claim? 

To claim compensation, you will have to go through the relevant airline directly. 

Most airlines will have a customer services department which will deal with urgent matters, such as flight delays. 

In cases where the delay is not the airline’s fault, the Civil Aviation Authority says ‘don’t expect to receive any compensation.’

However, you may be able to make a claim on your travel insurance, as some insurance policies may offer limited cover for delays, according to the Money Saving Expert website. 

But be sure to gather evidence of the costs you’ve incurred, such as hotels or alternative transport.  

If you need further help, you can contact the Civil Aviation Authority and Citizens Advice for assistance.