Travelling abroad is hard enough when everything goes according to plan, but when an unexpected flight delay or cancellation occurs it can be a terribly stressful experience. Flight delays are often caused by extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather conditions, bird strikes, air traffic control strikes, political unrest or security breeches. But delays can also be a result of overbooking, refuelling problems, battery leakages, mechanical or technical malfunctions or staff shortages which are all considered as the airline’s fault. Airlines have a responsibility to complete routine maintenance checks to ensure that there are no malfunctions to any working parts of the aircraft. When these malfunctions are detected it can cause flight delays or cancellations.
How to cope with flight delays and cancellations
Firstly, it is recommended to check the status of your flight before you set off for the airport, especially in the event of an Air Traffic Control strike (recently seen with the French Air Traffic Control strike in June). This will avoid you arriving at the airport to be sent straight back home again. If you notice a flight delay online, contact the airline directly for more information. Try to find out how long the delay is estimated to be. Depending on the length of the delay you will then be able to evaluate how your travel plans will be affected.
Secondly, make sure you monitor the weather in both the countries that you are travelling between. For example, if you are flying to a country affected by hurricanes, or a country with heavy snowfall take this into consideration as it may affect your flight. The same applies to natural disasters if a volcano is due to erupt for example. Note that delays due to bad weather do not qualify for delayed flight compensation, as according to EC regulation 261/2004 it is an extraordinary circumstance. Bad weather is often the trigger to ‘knock-on effects’ that typically are the result of previous delays that have caused a disruption to an airline’s flight schedule.
Remember to keep all of your travel information at hand such as confirmation and flight numbers, dates of departure and arrival and the names of the airports that you were travelling between. All of this information will be useful if you need to make a flight delays compensation claim. Passengers can claim back compensation for flight delays of three hours or more according to European Regulation 261/2004. The delay has to be a minimum of three hours to qualify and the flight would have to be a European regulated flight. This means that any flight departing the EU would qualify for compensation (regardless of the airline) but for flights departing an airport outside of the EU but arriving at an airport in the EU the flight would have to be operated by a European airline to qualify for compensation. In addition to this, passengers have up to six years to claim compensation for delays. Blueway Limited successfully won a compensation claim for a Thomson flight dating back to 2007 (flight number: TOM5992). The delay occurred on 24/12/2007 from Punta Cana International Airport, Dominican Republic to Manchester Airport.