What happens if my flight is cancelled?

(Photo by Samuel Sianipar on Unsplash)

Every traveller wants to believe their trip will be smooth and pleasant, without any sudden obstacles. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. You could experience a flight disruption and you probably will at some point.

Many passengers ask: What happens if my flight is cancelled?

Perhaps you wonder as well. That’s why in this article, we will explain what happens if a flight is cancelled and what you should do. What’s most important is to know your air passenger rights well so that you can protect them.

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What happens if my flight is cancelled?

Here is what happens if the airline cancels your flight, according to EU Regulation 261:

  1. If they give you notice at least 14 days before the departure date, you are entitled to a full refund of your ticket or rerouting to your final destination. However, you won’t be eligible for cancellation compensation.
  2. If the air carrier doesn’t inform you of the cancellation less than 14 days in advance:
  • You can claim compensation.
  • The air carrier must provide you with a replacement flight. If the alternative flight departs and lands within a reasonable timeframe compared to the original flight, the airline would not be obliged to pay compensation for a cancelled flight.

If you are entitled to compensation, its amount depends on the distance of the flight - you could get between € 125 and € 600.

Note that for you to be eligible for compensation under EU261, your flight has to be operated by an EU airline or to have been scheduled to depart from an EU airport.

What’s more, if the flight is delayed or cancelled due to any extraordinary circumstances, the airline won’t be responsible for the disruption and won’t be obliged to reimburse you. Such circumstances include:

  • Bad weather conditions;
  • Union and airport personnel strikes;
  • Bird strikes;
  • Air traffic control restrictions;
  • Political or civil unrest;
  • Security risks;
  • Hidden manufacturing defects;
  • Medical emergencies.

If you miss a connecting flight because of your cancelled flight, you might be entitled to compensation, but your flights need to be on the same booking.

See our detailed page on Flight Cancellation Compensation for more information.

What to do when my flight is cancelled?

There are some essential steps you should take:

  1. Make sure to keep all your travel documents.
  2. Ask the airline why the flight is cancelled and request a written statement.
  3. Ask for either a refund, or an alternative flight to your destination.
  4. If you have to wait for your alternative flight at least 2 hours, ask for food and refreshments (airlines usually give you vouchers). If you have to wait 6 or more hours, you have the right to a hotel accommodation as well.
  5. If you have had additional expenses because of the flight cancellation, make sure you keep all your receipts so that you can ask the airline to reimburse you.
  6. Don’t accept any offers from the airline that aren’t the cancelled flight compensation that you are entitled to according to EC261.
  7. Learn whether you are entitled to compensation and claim it - you don’t have to do this immediately, but it is preferable to do it as soon as possible so that you don’t wait long to receive your reimbursement.

How do I know if my flight is cancelled?

You should be contacted by your airline and notified of your flight cancellation. You can also check your flight status on the air carrier’s website or use a live flight tracker.

If you are already at the airport, you can find information on the flight boards or at a help desk.

To sum up

Now that you know your passenger rights, you won’t panic and wonder “What happens if my flight is cancelled?” but you’ll be able to act. When you are prepared, you’ll know what to do so that you can rightfully claim compensation for your troubles.

Have you had any disrupted flights in the past 3 years? Check your flight cancellation compensation. We will help you claim it.

Stay safe!