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Cancelled Flight Compensation: Passenger Rights, Eligibility, Amounts, How to Claim

Cancelled Flight Compensation: Passenger Rights, Eligibility, Amounts, How to Claim

Anton Radchenko
Reviewed by a licensed lawyer.
Last Updated: June 07, 2024

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In 2023, approximately 2.8 million passengers in the UK experienced a flight cancellation, according to The Independent. As maddening and inconvenient as these flight disruptions can be, passengers might find some peace of mind knowing that they do have air passenger rights that protect them when they have a cancelled flight. Let’s examine what kind of compensation you can expect from airlines, when you’re eligible, and how you can get it.

Key Points

  • Passengers in the UK can get up to £520 for cancelled flights
  • In addition to monetary compensation, passengers can also expect to get a refund or an alternate flight
  • UK air passenger rights protect all passengers flying from or within the UK or on a UK-based airline, as well as within Europe on a EU-based airline
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Understanding Cancelled Flight Compensation 

If your flight was cancelled, you have rights as a UK citizen, resident, or traveller that entitle you to compensation as long as your flight meets certain basic criteria. 

You could receive monetary compensation, care and assistance, a refund or a rebooked flight. So, let’s take a closer look at the details.

Flights Eligible for Compensation under UK261

Flight Itinerary

UK Airline

Non-UK Airline

Flight arrives and departs from the UK

Departs from UK, arrives anywhere

Departs from outside the UK, arrives inside the UK

Departs and arrives outside the UK

Your Air Passenger Rights

Your rights are protected by the Air Passenger Rights and Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, also called UK 261. These laws incorporated EU 261 regulation into UK law following Brexit, so your UK flight cancellation rights for compensation are still protected in the same way.

What You’re Entitled To

UK 261 Regulations state that, if your flight is cancelled, then you are entitled to:


You are entitled to these choices whether or not the airline is responsible for the cancellation.

If your flight was cancelled, then you might also be owed care and assistance compensation in addition to a refund and/or an alternate flight. Complementary meals and phone calls are offered when you have to wait in the airport for at least 2 hours as a result of your cancelled flight

Wait Times for Receiving Airline Care & Assistance Compensation 

Travel Distance of Your Flight

All flights, less than 1,500km

Flights within the UK, more than 1,500km

Non-internal UK flights, 1,500-3,500km

Non-internal UK flights, more than 3,500km

Your Waiting Time in the Airport

2 or more hours

3 or more hours

3 or more hours

4 or more hours


A flight refund will cover your cancelled flight ticket price, as well as the cost of any other tickets that couldn’t be used as a result of the cancellation or tickets you already used that are rendered useless because of the cancelled flight and a flight back to your original departure point.

Example scenario

You are travelling from London to New York to attend a convention. Your booking includes two separate flights: London to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to New York.

When you land in Amsterdam, the airline tells you that your flight to New York is cancelled. They offer an alternative flight, but it doesn’t depart for another day when the conference is over. So, since the trip to New York is now unnecessary, the airline must refund all your tickets, including your London to Amsterdam flight, and your flight back to London.

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Alternative Flights

If you decide to take an alternate flight, then the airline must offer you one of the following:

  • A flight that will arrive at your final destination with similar conditions and at the earliest opportunity or
  • A later flight of your choice to your final destination with similar conditions to your original flight (as long as seats are available) or
  • A comparable flight that leaves from another nearby airport. In this case, the airline also has to pay for your transportation to the other airport.
  • A refund between 30-75% of your original ticket price if you accept an alternate flight but given a seat in a lower class. (If you’re given a seat in a higher seating class, then you will not be required to pay for the price difference.)

Example scenario

Say you had a cancelled flight that was supposed to land at Heathrow London. The airline offers you an alternate flight, and you accept it, but instead of going to Heathrow, it goes to Stansted. When you get to Stansted, the airline must pay for your transportation to either Heathrow or to another local destination of your choice.

Flight Cancellation Compensation

Monetary Compensation

The amount of financial compensation you could receive is based on when you were notified of the cancelled flight and whether the airline was responsible for the cancellation. 

Timing of the cancelled flight notification

If you were notified of the cancelled flight more than 14 days before departure, and the airline is at fault, then you won’t be eligible for monetary compensation.

  • If you were given less than 14 days’ notice and the airline is at fault, then you could be eligible for monetary compensation.
  • If you were given less than 7 days’ notice and the airline is at fault, then your monetary compensation will be calculated based on the details of your alternate flight (if you choose to accept what the airline offered).

If your rebooked flight leaves within 1 hour of your original flight time and arrives within 2 hours of the original time, then you will not be eligible for monetary compensation.

When the airline is at fault

If your cancelled flight was caused by one of the following reasons, then you could get monetary compensation in addition to a refund or rebooked flight.

  • Too few passengers - Sometimes a flight is cancelled because it is more cost-effective for the airline to scrap a flight than to fly with a plane that is only partially filled.  
  • No available aircraft - If the plane scheduled for a flight is unavailable and no replacement can be found, then the airline will cancel the flight.
  • Mechanical & technical issues - If there are technical problems with the aeroplane, and a replacement can’t be found in time, then the flight will be cancelled.
  • Pilot unfit to fly - If a pilot is feeling unwell before a flight and another pilot can’t be found in time, then the flight will be cancelled.

But no matter what causes the cancellation, the airline is still responsible for providing you with either a full ticket refund or an alternate flight to your destination. You just can’t claim for both. If you choose a refund, UK261 states that the airline must give you your full refund within 7 days of your scheduled flight.

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How Much Cancelled Flight Compensation Can You Get

When your flight is cancelled, the airline is required by law to offer you compensation between £100 - £520. The exact amount you receive depends on several factors:

  • How far you would be travelling
  • Whether your flight was travelling inside, outside, or partially in the UK.
  • How long you were delayed at your final destination

The following table will help you determine how much you could be compensated for each situation.

Cancelled Flight Monetary Compensation

Flight Distance

Length of Delay


Less than 1,500 km

Arrives less than 2 hours at final destination


Arrives more than 2 hours at final destination


Flights 1,500-3,500 km

Departs 2+ hours earlier than original flight and lands less than 3 hours later than original flight (at final destination)


Departs more than 2 hours before your original flight and arrives 3+ hours later 


Flights over 3,500 km

Departs less than 1 hour earlier than your original flight and arrives at your final destination under 4 hours from original flight


Arrives at final destination 4+ hours later than original flight


When You Are NOT Eligible for Monetary Compensation

Not eligible

If your flight was cancelled because of extraordinary circumstances

Not eligible

If the airline notified you about the cancellation at least 14 days before departure

Not eligible

If your ticket was purchased at a private discounted rate (unavailable to the general public) or if it was given to the passenger (i.e. pilots and flight attendants travel free of charge)

Time Limits to Claim Flight Cancellation Compensation

If you’ve had a cancelled flight and you want to file a compensation claim, then you have up to 3 years to do it. Three years might seem like a long time to make a cancelled flight compensation claim, but you should start the process right away. Let AirAdvisor take care of the claim process for you, and get up to £520 in compensation. See how much you’re eligible to receive.

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Cancelled Flight Regulations in Other Regions

Other regions have their own flight compensation regulations, so if your travel involves the U.S., Ireland, Canada, or the EU, you can find detailed info on your air passenger rights. Just check the links below:

What to Do if Your Flight is Cancelled

If your flight has been cancelled, you’ll have to take the following steps in order to get the compensation you’re owed.

  • Ask airline representatives what caused the cancellation and get written confirmation.
  • Gather all relevant flight details and documents like your boarding pass
  • Collect proof of the cancelation by taking photos of the departure timetable
  • Ask for either an alternate flight or a ticket refund.
  • If you choose to take an alternate flight, note the actual arrival time to your destination and request complimentary meals and refreshments if you have to wait longer than 2 hours, or ask for a hotel room if you have to wait until the next day.
  • Keep track of all your receipts for any essential purchases you had to make as a result of the cancelled flight.
  • If you’re offered a travel voucher, read the fine print! Sometimes accepting a voucher will eliminate your right to cash flight cancellations compensation, so if you have to sign anything, pay close attention to what you’re signing.
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How to Claim Compensation for Cancelled Flight

UK Cancelled Flight Compensation

To claim compensation for a cancelled flight, you must first take the steps outlined in What to Do if Your Flight is Cancelled. Next, send your claim to the airline. You can do this by either sending an email or completing a form on the airline’s website. Once you’ve sent your claim information, you can expect to wait anywhere between a few days and a month to get a reply.

Unfortunately, UK regulations don’t state a time limit for when the air carrier must respond. From our experience here at AirAdvisor, airlines will take as much time as possible to resolve your claim. In many instances, they will deny the claim altogether even though you are entitled to compensation. Airlines do this because they understand most air passengers are unaware of their rights and won't take further action to pursue them.

AirAdvisor Can Help You Get Up To £520 for Flight Cancellations

If all this seems confusing to you, you’re not alone. The claims process is complex and frustrating to say the least, which is why over 250,000 passengers have chosen us to file their flight cancellation claims for them. Plus, we have a 98% success rate

At AirAdvisor, we’ll take care of the complex claim process for you, and the best part is that we only get paid when you do. Here’s a few more reasons why you can trust us with your claim:

  • We’re seasoned experts
  • We’ve been fighting for passenger rights since 2017
  • Our services are available to passengers in 58 countries and growing
  • If English isn’t your first language, no worries. We provide our legal services in 13 different languages to better accommodate you.
  • We fight for your passenger rights for any kind of flight disruption including denied boarding compensation, flight delay compensation, missed connections, in addition to flight cancellations.
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People Also Ask

Where can you find recent flight cancellations?

Check the website of your departure airport to see if a flight is cancelled. You can also use sites like FlightTracker.

If you have connecting flights, can you get compensation for your entire trip?

Yes. As long as the flight in your trip was purchased under one booking and you are covered by either UK Regulations.

How much do you get for a cancelled flight?

Under the rules of UK 261, you could receive between £110 - £520 for a cancelled flight.

Can I get my money back if I cancel my flight?

If you book a flight and decide not to take it, you can get your money back in certain situations. This will depend on the airline, the terms and conditions of your ticket, whether or not your ticket is refundable, and when you cancel. If your cancelled ticket is refundable, then you can either receive a full refund or have the taxes and fees repaid. Contact your airline for more information.

If your flight is cancelled, and the airline gives you another flight, do you have the right to refuse it?

Yes! You have the right to refuse the alternate flight and request a refund instead. You also have the option to ask for a different replacement flight. Don’t forget that as long as your cancelled flight meets the eligibility criteria, you could also receive compensation.

If you had a flight cancelled in the UK, what are your rights for compensation?

The UK created regulations similar to EU 261 before Brexit, so now these laws are called UK 261. Because of the protections offered in this law, passengers arriving in the UK on a UK airline or departing from the UK can be eligible for up to £520 for cancelled flights.

What is the deadline to file a UK cancelled flight claim?

You have 3 years from the time of the cancelled flight to file a compensation claim.

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