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What are the passengers’ rights for delayed or cancelled flights?



Thousands of passengers have had their travel plans disrupted by drones flown over Gatwick airport.

Many will be wondering whether they can be compensated for delays or cancellations.

:: Will those affected be entitled to compensation?

The Civil Aviation Authority has declared the event to be an “extraordinary circumstance” because it is out of the control of the airlines.

Extraordinary circumstances can include a security risk, political instability or severe weather that makes flying dangerous.

“In such circumstances, airlines are not obliged to pay financial compensation to passengers affected by the disruption,” a spokesman for the CAA said.

:: If you are not entitled to financial compensation, what are your rights?

Passengers wait around in the South Terminal building at Gatwick Airport


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Alex Neill, Which? managing director for home products and services, said: “This situation will understandably be frustrating for both the airlines and the tens of thousands of passengers travelling to and from Gatwick ahead of Christmas.

“Whilst these extraordinary circumstances unfortunately mean you are not entitled to compensation, you may still be entitled to meals, refreshments, hotel accommodation or transfers.

“You don’t have to cancel your tickets though, as depending on the length of the delay, your airline should be providing you with alternative travel options or accommodation.”

According to Which, If your flight’s delayed for at least two hours (depending on the length of the flight) your airline has to give you: two free phone calls, faxes or emails; free meals and refreshments appropriate to the delay; free hotel accommodation and hotel transfers if an overnight stay is required.

If your flight’s delayed for more than five hours you’re entitled to choose between being rerouted on a different flight or getting a refund, just as if your flight had been cancelled.

:: How can insurers help?

Martyn James, spokesman for consumer help website, suggests that as well as speaking to the airline, “you can also speak to your travel insurer to see if you have any options in your insurance policy”.

Giving general advice, the Association of British Insurers said people should speak to their airline or travel company first.


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A spokesman said: “For additional travel disruption costs, such as missed hotel bookings or already paid for activities that you can no longer make, you should speak to your travel insurer as these may be covered under the terms of your travel insurance, depending on the type of cover you have bought.”

Insurer Axa says if customers need to change the dates of their trip they should make contact to update their policy.

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