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What to do if your flight gets cancelled

Having your flight get cancelled can be a stressful experience, especially if you’re unsure of what to do next. So, what are the steps you can take if your flight gets cancelled?

Flight cancellation next steps

If your flight has unfortunately been cancelled (and you’re flying within the EU with an EU carrier), you have three choices:

  • The airline you’re flying with must get you on another flight as soon as possible (and it won’t cost you anything). If the cancelled flight is part of a package holiday, it’s protected by ATOL and you will be under the care of your holiday operator.
  • You can get a full refund (you won’t be able to travel on another flight until you re-book). Bear in mind that if you get a full refund on an independent flight (i.e. a flight not in conjunction with a package holiday), you are no longer in the care of the airline, meaning if you re-book another independent flight, you will have to take care of your holiday travel arrangements (such as car hire etc).
  • You can get another flight to your destination with a different airline.

Left stranded?

If you’ve been left at an airport waiting for your new flight (at least 2+ hours for short-haul, 4+ hours for long-haul), the airline will offer you a welfare package which gives you food and drink vouchers. Airlines also can provide you with overnight accommodation (including transport), but you need to find out what the airline is able to refund before booking anything, and always keep the receipts.  

It is wise to use your travel insurance in this instance if you’ve claimed a full refund, as the airline won’t pay for any additional costs incurred other than the cancelled flight.

Claiming compensation

If you aren’t satisfied with the airline’s response for your flight’s cancellation (even if you were refunded) you can still claim compensation for the inconvenience of the flight cancellation - if it was cancelled within 14 days of the day you were due to depart. Compensation is dependent upon the duration and distance of your flight, varying from €250 if it’s under 1,500km and short-haul, to €600 if it’s long-haul and more than 3,500km. 

However, you can’t claim compensation for a cancelled flight if: you are notified at least 2 weeks before and the airline has offered you an alternative; you are notified between 7-14 days and chose to be re-routed with a new flight within 2 hours of the old one; the cancellation is down to ‘extraordinary circumstances’. In some circumstances, you can claim compensation through your travel insurance for flight cancellations.


Don’t let any unwanted problems catch you out during your holiday, our affordable holiday insurance can cover any unexpected problems. Check out more of our travel advice to keep yourself clued up!

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