Travel insurance

Your consumer rights with delayed travel

31 May 20183 min read

Departure board at an airport showing a delayed flight

With travel disruption unwelcome to anyone’s travel plans, it’s important to know your rights should something go wrong and your flight, ferry or rail journey be affected by delays or cancellations.

So where do you stand if you are left grounded at the airport, port or rail station?

Flight disruption

All air travellers departing on flights from the EU or on flights returning to the EU operated by an EU carrier are covered by the EU261 regulations.

These govern what an airline must do if a flight is delayed or cancelled. This covers you for everything from your entitlement to a refund, to welfare and compensation up to as much as €600 as appropriate. Welfare includes things such as food and drink, telephone calls and hotels where necessary.

As flight journeys and delays vary, there are a range of rules and these apply to your circumstances dependent on the length of your delay and how far you were due to fly, so it’s important to check the rules carefully. However, no protection is on offer unless the flight is delayed by at least two, three or four hours dependent on the destination you are flying to.

Your rights are published on the CAA website and cover off;

  • Flight delays
  • Cancellations
  • Getting bumped off a flight
  • Being downgraded from one cabin to a lower one
  • Missed connecting flights

Airlines have a responsibility to inform you of your rights when things go wrong. However, it’s good to know ahead, so go online and print out your rights. Alternatively, download the app ‘Your passenger rights’ from your favourite app store.

If you need any help or advice on making a claim, check our articles online or the CAA website for more information. And ensure you read the small print, especially around what you need to do to make a claim and the extraordinary circumstances that can rule out any claims being considered by an airline.

Ferry disruption

Just as for flights passengers, those who travel by sea on a ferry are also offered protection if sailings are delayed or cancelled. The EU ruling is EU1177/2010.

Welfare should be offered if a delay to the sailing is 90 minutes or more and compensation becomes due once you are delayed for at least one hour on a four-hour journey.

The UK website Gov.uk holds the information that you need to check your rights and it is also found on the ‘Your passenger rights’ app.


With over 20,000 services a day operating in the UK, it is inevitable that at times there will be delays and cancellations across the network.

These days your rights are clear should your train be delayed or cancelled. However, what you are entitled to changes depending on whether you hold a season ticket or an individual ticket.

The Transport Focus (formerly Passenger Focus) website details the minimum that a UK rail company should offer in the event of a delay or cancellation. Compensation must be given if any journey is one hour late or more and starts at 20% of the single journey value or 10% of the return journey value.

You should also consult the online pages of your rail company for claims forms and procedures for making your claim.


On top of your consumer rights you should also ensure that you have a travel insurance policy that covers travel delay. This would apply generally to flights although some insurers also cover rail and sea.

Next time you travel, if you suffer a delay or cancellation, be ready to claim your rights and ensure you always get away for less.

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