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UK 261 Compensation Guide

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

Claim up to £520 for flight disruptions as per UK261 law

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Travelling by air is one of the fastest and most convenient ways to travel, but it can also be frustrating when your flight is delayed or cancelled. Thanks to Regulation 261 UK, you are entitled to flight delay compensation or cancelled flight compensation of up to £520, depending on the delay length and the flight distance.

This article explains everything you need to know about UK 261 compensation: who is eligible, how to claim the compensation you are entitled to, and how much compensation you can get in each flight disruption scenario.

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What is UK 261 Regulation

EU Regulation 261/2004 (commonly known as EU 261) is a law that establishes air passenger rights for flights departing from and within the European Union. It sets out compensation and assistance that airlines must provide to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays.

After the UK left the EU it implemented a similar regulation called the Air Passenger Rights (Amendment) Regulations, which closely mirrors the EU 261 regulation. The regulation has remained applicable in the UK since 2020, as if Brexit had never occurred.

Under UK 261 Regulation, if your flight is delayed for more than three hours, or if it's cancelled, you may be eligible for flight delay compensation or cancelled flight compensation. The total compensation amount depends on the delay's length and the flight's distance.

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The aim of the Regulation is to protect UK passengers and ensure that they are adequately compensated for any inconvenience caused by flight disruptions. It also aims to improve airline accountability and encourage them to take appropriate measures to avoid flight disruptions in the future.

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Disrupted flight? You might have a right to compensation - up to £520.

Passenger Rights in Case of UK Flight Delay Compensation

Under UK law, you may be entitled to certain passenger rights if your flight is delayed for over three hours. If the flight delay is within the airline's control, such as mechanical problems or crew shortages, you may be entitled to compensation under the UK 261/2004 Regulation. This compensation ranges from £220 to £520 per passenger, depending on the distance of the flight and the length of the delay.

In addition to compensation, you may also be entitled to some assistance such as meals, refreshments, and hotel accommodation. If your flight is delayed for more than five hours, you can choose not to travel and receive a full refund of your ticket price. This is also known as a flight refund. But if you decide to continue your journey, the airline must provide you with a new flight as soon as possible or at a later date that suits you.

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To claim your passenger rights and potentially receive compensation or a flight refund, you should contact the airline directly or seek the assistance of a reputable claims management company, like AirAdvisor, which has a better chance of a successful claim.

How Much Compensation You Can Get for UK Flight Delay

The levels of flight delay compensation UK are as follows:

Flight Length

UK 261 Compensation

Short-haul flights (less than 1,500 km) Ex: London to Paris

£220 (€250)

Medium-haul flights (between 1,500 and 3,500 km) Ex: London to Lisbon

£350 (€400)

Long-haul flights (over 3,500 km) Ex: London to Dubai

£520 (€600)

Long-haul flights (over 3,500 km) Ex: London to Dubai with delay at destination under 4 hours

£260 (€300) 

If the delay is longer than 5 hours, passengers can choose to receive a full refund of their ticket price instead of continuing with their journey. The airline is obligated to provide passengers with:

  • a full refund for the flight
  • a full refund for other flights from the airline that they won’t use in the same booking
  • a return flight to the first point of departure in case of connecting flights

However, if the passenger decides to continue their flight with the airline, they can claim up to £520 in compensation if the delay is the airline's fault. These compensation amounts are per passenger, so if you are travelling with a family or a group, each individual may be entitled to receive the compensation.

Passengers can use flight delay checkers and flight delay compensation calculators to determine if they are eligible for compensation due to flight delays. For cancelled flights, they can use a flight cancellation compensation calculator to determine how much compensation they are legally entitled to receive.

Passengers are eligible for cancelled flight compensation if their flight was cancelled by the airline with less than 14 days' notice and they did not agree to the cancellation. In such cases, they are entitled to a choice between a full refund of their ticket price or re-routing to their final destination at the earliest opportunity, under comparable transport conditions.

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Flight Cancelled Between 14 & 7 Days Before Departure

For flights that are cancelled between 14 and 7 days before your initial time of departure you can claim the following compensation based on the arrival time of your new flight compared to the original one.

Flight Length

Disruption Length 

UK 261 Compensation

Short-haul flights (less than 1,500 km) Ex: London to Paris

2 or more hours at arrival

£220 (€250)

Short-haul flights (less than 1,500 km) Ex: London to Paris

Less than 2 hours at arrival

£110 (€125)

Medium-haul flights (between 1,500 and 3,500 km) Ex: London to Lisbon

Departs 2 or more hours before initial flight time and arrives 3 hours late

£350 (€400)

Medium-haul flights (between 1,500 and 3,500 km) Ex: London to Lisbon

Departs 2 or more hours before initial flight time and arrives less than 3 hours late

£175 (€200)

Long-haul flights (over 3,500 km) Ex: London to Dubai

4 or more hours at arrival

£520 (€600)

Long-haul flights (over 3,500 km) Ex: London to Dubai 

Departs 1 hour before initial flight and lands with less than 4 hours late

£260 (€300) 

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In the rare event that your replacement flight takes off with less than 2 hours before the time of your original flight and arrives less than 4 hours before the time of the original flight you are not owed compensation. 

Flight Cancelled Less Then 7 Days Before Departure

Below you can find the compensation amount you can claim based on the arrival times of your new flight compared to the old one. 

Flight Length

Disruption Length 

UK 261 Compensation

Short-haul flights (less than 1,500 km) Ex: London to Paris

2 or more hours at arrival

£220 (€250)

Medium-haul flights (between 1,500 and 3,500 km) Ex: London to Lisbon

3 or more hours at arrival

£350 (€400)

Long-haul flights (over 3,500 km) Ex: London to Dubai

4 or more hours at arrival

£520 (€600)

Long-haul flights (over 3,500 km) Ex: London to Dubai 

Less than 4 hours at arrival

£260 (€300)

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You will not be eligible for compensation if your new flight takes off with less than 1 hour before the time of your original flight and arrives less than 2 hours before the time of the original flight.

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Flight Delay Compensation: Covered Flights

The flights that are covered under the UK law are as follows:

  • Flights departing from the UK to any destination worldwide with any airline.
  • Flights arriving in the UK from any destination worldwide with a UK or EU airline.
  • Arriving in the European Union with a United Kingdom airline.

When it comes to flights from the UK to the EU member states or the USA, passengers are covered by both the UK and EU flight delay compensation law, depending on the specific circumstances of their flight.

What Airlines You Can Claim Compensation From 

Some of the most popular airlines are:

British Airlines logo

British Airways

British Airways is one of the largest airlines in the UK, operating flights to destinations worldwide. As one of the leading airlines operating in the UK, British Airways handles many compensation claims yearly and has a dedicated customer service team to help passengers with their claims.

Easyjet logo 

EasyJet

EasyJet is a popular low-cost airline that primarily operates short-haul flights within Europe. If you experience a flight delay or cancellation with EasyJet, you may be eligible for compensation under UK and EU flight delay compensation laws.

TUI Airways logo

TUI 

TUI is a leisure travel company that operates flights to holiday destinations around the world. If you experience a delay or cancellation with TUI, be sure to keep all relevant documentation, such as your booking confirmation and boarding pass, and contact the airline as soon as possible to begin the compensation claim process.

Other popular airlines under the EU UK 261 regulation include Wizz Air, Lufthansa, Vueling, Jet2, and Emirates.

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When an Airline Doesn’t Have to Pay Compensation

There are specific situations where an airline may not be required to pay flight delay compensation under UK and EU law. These situations are known as "extraordinary circumstances".

Such circumstances may include:

  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Air traffic control restrictions or strikes
  • Security risks
  • Unforeseen mechanical issues that could not have been detected during routine maintenance. 

In these situations, airlines are not considered responsible for the delay or cancellation and are therefore, not required to pay compensation. 

However, airlines are still required to assist passengers in these situations, such as offering meals and refreshments, providing hotel accommodation if necessary, and offering alternative flights or refunds where applicable.

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If the airline gives more than 14 days' notice, passengers are not entitled to compensation but are entitled to a full refund of their ticket price.

How to Make a Claim

In case you are experiencing a flight delay or cancellation and you believe you may be entitled to compensation under UK and EU law, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Gather all relevant information about the delay or cancellation, including the flight number, departure and arrival times, and any documentation or communication received from the airline.
  2. Submit a claim to the airline in writing, either by email or by post, and provide any supporting documentation or evidence that they may have 

It's important to note that many airlines may deny compensation even when passengers have a right to one, because they know that many passengers are not aware of their rights. 

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So, if your claim is initially denied, seek further advice or assistance from a legal professional like AirAdvisor.  

Ultimately, persistence and knowledge of your rights are key when it comes to making a successful claim for flight delay or cancellation compensation.

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AirAdvisor Can Increase Your Chance of Success

Making a claim for compensation can often be a frustrating and time-consuming process. That's where AirAdvisor comes in. We are an air passenger rights organization that helps passengers claim compensation for delayed, cancelled, or overbooked flights.

With our expertise in flight compensation claims, we can help passengers maximize their potential compensation and handle all the paperwork and communication with the airline.

If you're unsure about how to make a claim or simply don't have the time to do it yourself, AirAdvisor is an excellent option. We have a proven track record of successfully resolving flight compensation claims, so you can rest assured that you're in good hands.

Check if you are owed compensation up to £520 

FAQ

Does EU 261 still apply to UK?

Yes, EU261 still applies to the UK. The regulations were incorporated into UK law in 2018, and they continue to protect the rights of passengers travelling from and to the UK on flights operated by EU and non-EU airlines.

What is the UK 261 regulation?

The UK 261 regulation is a set of rules that protect the rights of air passengers travelling to and from the United Kingdom.

How much do you get for a flight delay UK?

Passengers are entitled to compensation ranging from £220 to £520, depending on the flight distance and delay length.

How long can a flight be delayed UK?

If a flight is delayed for more than three hours, passengers may be entitled to compensation under UK 261 regulations. If the delay goes above five hours, passengers have the option to choose a full refund of their ticket price instead of continuing with their journey.

Can you get financial compensation for a delayed flight?

Yes, passengers may be entitled to financial compensation for a delayed flight under UK 261 regulations.

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