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What Happens If an Airline Cancels Flight?

What Happens When An Airline Cancels Your Flight

Joanna Teljeur
Written By Joanna Teljeur
8 minutes read
Last Updated: May 03, 2024

Are you a first time flyer? Maybe you’ve been lucky and never had a cancelled flight. Is this you? Either way, you’re in the right place. We’ve handled over 230,000 flight disruption claims and worked on thousands of different cases. So, let's take a closer look at what happens when a flight is cancelled by airline in different scenarios and find out what to do to get your trip back on track.

Did you know that you could get up to €600 in cancelled flight compensation? Check below to see if your flight is eligible.

Woman is checking what are my rights if my flight is cancelled on the laptop

 Learning That Your Flight Has Been Cancelled

Airlines cancel flights for many reasons, and can notify you about it in several ways.

  • Through the airline app
  • By email
  • SMS

Sometimes a flight will be cancelled weeks in advance and other times, it could be right before the flight is about to board. In either case, the airline should give you the option of an alternate flight to your destination or a refund. Also, if your flight was cancelled with less than 14 days notice, you could be eligible for compensation in addition to your refund or rebooked flight.

Rebooked Flight

Airlines will try to find you the next available flight so you can get to your destination as soon as possible, but sometimes this isn’t possible. You may not want to accept any of the flights offered, in which case you can choose a flight that suits you. As we mentioned above, you can also choose a refund if you decide not to continue your trip. 

Meals and Accomodation

If you chose to be rebooked and there is a delay until your flight, then the airline should provide you with meals, especially if you have to wait more than 2 hours. If you have to wait until the next day and you’re not at home, then EU and UK law states that you must be given hotel accommodation as well as transportation to and from the hotel.


If you have been rebooked onto another flight, you’re probably wondering what happens with your checked baggage

  1. If your rebooked flight is departing that same day, your luggage will be forwarded to your final destination.
  2. If your flight is leaving the following day or if you chose a refund, then your baggage will be sent to the baggage carousel in the airport reclaim area.
Find out if you are owed compensation for a disrupted flight.

Many people have been stucked in the airport due to flights cancelled today

Challenges of a Cancelled Flight

A cancelled flight can lead to other kinds of travel disruptions beyond the immediate inconvenience. 

Missed Connections 

A delayed or cancelled flight can cause you to miss your connecting flights. In most cases, the airline will take this into consideration when rebooking your flight, but it’s smart to ask an agent to be sure. You can also check the airline app to see your new connecting flight information.

Financial Loss

A cancelled flight can cause your entire trip to be disrupted. If you had hotel reservations or a rental car organised, then you may lose money for making last minute changes. 

Missed Events

Depending on the timing of your cancelled flight, you could also miss the event that you were travelling to attend. This could be a family gathering or a business meeting. Sometimes you might only miss some of your plans, and other times, you could miss the entire event.

Woman is happy because she found out the AirAdvisor's guideline on what happens if airline cancels flight

How to Prepare for Flight Cancellations

As irritating and inconvenient as a cancelled flight may be, there are still some things you can do to prepare and mitigate the fall out of a cancelled flight.

Stay Informed

When you’re booking your ticket, provide your most up-to-date contact information. Adding both a mobile number and email address can help the airline contact you if your flight is cancelled. 

Understand Your Airline’s Policies

It’s a good idea to read the cancellation policies so you know what to expect. This will help you navigate the rebooking procedure and plan for last minute changes. You can find this information on the airline’s website by searching for ‘cancellation policies’ or by reading the contract of carriage.

Think About Travel Insurance

While travel insurance isn’t absolutely necessary, you might want to consider it especially if you’ve planned a vacation or a cruise. You can choose from many different policies that offer different kinds of coverage and pricing so that you’re protected if your flight is cancelled and you miss part of your trip as a result.

Pack Accordingly

Always keep your medications, chargers, a change of clothes and basic toiletries with you in case your flight is cancelled at the last minute.

Can an airline cancel my flight? There are many reasons for cancellations including air traffic control strikes

What To Do When Your Flight Is Cancelled

So, what if an airline cancels your flight when you’re at the airport? You may find yourself amid a flurry of activity. Other passengers will be busy trying to find alternate plans as well, so to help you take action quickly, we created a handy guide of what you should do. Or you can follow the steps below whenever the airline delays or cancels your flight or you are denied boarding.

  1. Ask the airline to provide you with the written proof of flight cancellation.
  2. Make a photo of the timetable which indicates cancellation.
  3. Hold onto your booking confirmation, boarding pass and other travel documents.
  4. Ask for a refund or a replacement flight.
  5. Ask for free meals, water, communication and accommodation, if required due to cancellation.
  6. Hold onto the receipts if you had to spend your own money due to cancellation.
  7. Do not sign any vouchers (they may contain a waiver of cash compensation). 
  8. Contact our team at AirAdvisor - we can get compensation for you at zero cost.

AirAdvisor can argue with the airline on your behalf. If required, we can also communicate with Alternative Dispute Resolution bodies and defend your rights in court. Our team has already solved more than 250,000 cases providing affected travelers with the compensation they are rightfully owed.

Remember, your cancelled flight may be eligible for up to €600 in compensation even if you accepted an alternate flight or refund. Check your flight below. It only takes a few minutes and it’s free!

Once you’ve figured out an alternate flight, you might have some time until you board. If this is the case, you might be interested in checking some of these articles to further help you on your journey.

FAQ: common questions about flight cancellations

How to apply for flight compensation?

You may claim for a cancelled flight as long as you were notified about cancellation less than 14 days before the flight. 


Can a cancelled flight be reinstated?

When the airport flights are cancelled, the airline would usually provide you with the earliest available alternative flight. You might also ask for a full ticket refund instead as per your EU cancellation rights.


Which flights are cancelled?

Cancellations are usually caused by some problems that the airline sees threatening the safety of the passengers. The reasons might be related to the operation of the airline itself or some extraordinary circumstances. 


Can you claim for cancelled flights?

You have airline cancels flight passenger rights to compensation if:

  • flight cancellation notice is received 14 days before the flight
  • the flight departs from UK/EU or is run by UK/EU airline
  • the airline is fully responsible for the cancellation


Why are flights being cancelled?

Air travel cancellations happen for various reasons. All reasons are divided into extraordinary circumstances and those that depend entirely on the airline. Among the former are air traffic control restrictions, bad weather conditions, etc. Some of the latter are operational issues, technical problems, etc. 


How to get compensation for a cancelled flight?

Under the law regarding cancelled flights, you can submit a compensation claim stating flight details and details about flight disruption. AirAdvisor can handle the process and get up to 600 euro for a cancelled flight on your behalf free of charge.  


Will my flight be cancelled? 

To check if a flight is cancelled, you can use the websites such as Flightradar24, FlightAware or FlightStats


What happens if an airline cancels a flight?

You can ask for a ticket refund or an alternative flight. Moreover, you may have the right to compensation for cancelled flights in Europe.  


How to claim for a cancelled flight?

You can contact the airline directly, hire a lawyer or ask AirAdvisor to represent you. Our team at AirAdvisor can get your EU Regulation flight compensation for free in the least possible time.  


How many flights are cancelled today?

You can check flight disruption today or flights cancelled yesterday with the help of websites such as FlightAware or FlightStats.


What if my flight gets cancelled?

Regardless of where you come from, you may be eligible for compensation of up to €600 (£510). Remember that you always have the right to a full refund or replacement flight. You can get it as an addition to the compensation for cancelled flight EU.


When do airlines cancel flights?

Usually, the airlines would cancel flights when having some internal problems or due to extraordinary circumstances. If your flight is cancelled due to weather or other reasons, you may have the right to cash compensation.


Can you get compensation for a cancelled flight?

You can claim passenger compensation for cancelled flights, if your flight qualifies according to the EC261 criteria mentioned earlier in the article.  


How do I find out why my flight was cancelled?

Contact AirAdvisor, we will find the real reason for your flight cancellation. Another alternative is to call the airline directly. However, it might provide a misleading explanation to avoid payment of the cancelled operation compensation. 


Can an airline cancel my flight? 

Yes, if an airline has a valid reason for it, it might cancel your flight. However, in many cases, the company will have to pay compensation. 


What flights are cancelled?

The airline could usually cancel flights if they have internal or external issues with their departure. The reasons include the lack of airline crew, schedule inconsistencies, strikes, etc.


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