Dealing with Travel Delays and Cancellations

March 24, 2020


Things have taken a tumultuous turn with the emergence of the coronavirus in recent weeks. Many people who have booked flights are now left in limbo as airlines close services and various governments shut their borders. 

If you have a booked a trip over the next few months, according to Flightright, flight cancellation compensation and refunds can be a little confusing. Flightright is an online service aimed at helping passengers claim compensation from airlines when trips have been cancelled or delayed. 

Even without the impact of coronavirus, many flights are cancelled at short notice each week, putting travellers at great inconvenience. It’s important when this has happened you get the right team on your side and look at whether you can claim compensation. 

Here we take a closer look at what your rights are and whether you can claim for compensation over and above a simple ticket refund or flight replacement. 

What Are Your Rights?

The good news if you are travelling in the EU you have some significant rights as a passenger. A lot depends on the length of your journey and what was the cause of the delay or cancellation of the flight:

  • If your flight is delayed you may be able to claim a fixed amount of compensation whether it’s a short-haul or long-haul flight.
  • If your flight is delayed more than five hours, however, you are entitled to a full refund if you no longer wish to travel. 
  • If your flight is cancelled, you can claim back the price of your ticket (or that portion of your flight that you haven’t used) or you can be offered an alternative flight to the same destination. 

Refunds, Compensation and Coronavirus

If your flight has been cancelled as a result of the virus, you should receive a refund for your airline ticket or you should be offered an alternative flight. 

You may also want to see if you can claim compensation or not. At the moment, airlines can cancel flights because of what are called ‘extraordinary circumstances’ which are beyond their control. This means that you will get a refund of your ticket but will not be entitled to compensation, for example, for the damage done to your business. 

Some airlines may cancel flights to protect their finances rather than because of the coronavirus and this can be difficult to ascertain. Airlines make this sort of decision because fewer people are travelling and they cannot fill a particular flight to make it financially viable. If they have cancelled because of a financial motive and there are no restrictions to travel to a particular location, then you may still be able to claim compensation. 

If you are uncertain whether to travel, but your flight is still available, it can be slightly more complicated. You can cancel and receive a full refund if the country you are flying to has a confirmed health risk. In all other circumstances, the airline’s normal cancellation policy applies and it could be up to them if you get a refund or not. 


  • Nick March 25, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    Thank you for this timely article. I feel very sorry for anyone whose travel plans have been disrupted by the coronavirus, and especially for those who are stranded in other parts of the world with no way of getting home. These are certainly difficult and distressing times.

  • Rhian Westbury March 26, 2020 at 10:07 am

    Thankfully I only had one trip planned and I need to call BA to get them to change our flight to later in the year, it must be so tough when you have things planned but it’s not been officially cancelled yet x

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