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Missed flight? Your right to a refund or compensation explained


If you’ve missed your flight, you may be entitled to receive compensation from the airline or you may be able to get a refund of the airfare or the taxes you have paid. We will explain when you qualify for both of these categories. Flight-Delayed is an organisation that helps air passengers claim compensation from the airline when they have experienced a flight delay, cancellation, or when they were denied boarding. We also help travellers with general travel information.


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Missed flight compensation
Scenarios when one can claim
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What happens when you miss your flight  


If you were not able to board your flight, there is one very important question that must be answered before we can proceed with some advice: Did you check in on time?


There are cases in which you are entitled to receive compensation from the airline if you miss your flight. The most important condition has to do with checking in. Most airports advise travellers to arrive at the airport at least two hours before the departure of their flight to make sure there's sufficient time to check in and go through customs.


If you arrive late at the airport, check-in counter or at the gate there are cases in which you won't be allowed to fly. Most airlines require passengers to have checked in at least 45 minutes before the departure of the flight and are allowed to deny the passengers access to the flight if they arrive at the check-in desk later than that. If the airline would allow passengers to check in just a couple of minutes before departure, the flight would have to be delayed because the passengers wouldn't be able to go through customs, security checkpoints and have their luggage loaded onto the plane in time for the scheduled departure.


What happens very often is that passengers arrive at the airport with plenty of time to check-in, only to find that there are huge queues. What most people don't realise is that airlines will most likely deny you boarding if the long queues cause you to not arrive at the check-in desk or gate on time, despite what airport personnel may tell you.


If you’ve arrived late at the airport at your own fault, unfortunately, the airline is not forced to provide you with a replacement flight and you will have to cover the expenses if you still want to travel to your final destination. If that is not the case (you are not travelling anymore), you have the option to request a refund of the taxes you’ve paid when purchasing your ticket. We’ll discuss that later on, but first, we’ll explain when you can be entitled to compensation.


Was your flight cancelled because of the coronavirus? Then you are entitled to the refund of your ticket or booking!


The aviation sector has been severely affected by the coronavirus outbreak. This obviously has consequences for air traffic and airlines, but it is precisely now that the rights of air passengers are of importance. The European Commission has confirmed that in the event of a flight being cancelled, airlines must give passengers a choice between receiving travel vouchers or the reimbursement of the ticket costs.

Coronavirus: What are my rights when a flight is cancelled?

If your flight is cancelled because of the coronavirus, you are entitled to a complete refund of your ticket. European Regulation EC 261/2004 obliges the airline to refund the full price of the ticket within 7 days in case of a cancelled flight. Currently, many airlines and travel agencies only offer vouchers that can be used to book a new flight in the future. However, this voucher policy is not in compliance with European legislation. In addition, vouchers often do not provide any guarantee. If an airline goes into administration, passengers holding a travel voucher will lose their money.


What am I entitled to if my flight is cancelled due the ongoing COVID-19 crisis?

If your flight is cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak, you are not entitled to compensation. However, you are in fact entitled to the full refund of your ticket. The coronavirus crisis is considered an extraordinary circumstance, which exempts the airline from the obligation to compensate passengers for the cancellation of their flight.


Important: supplementary compensation is not the same as the right to the reimbursement of the ticket! Even when affected by the coronavirus outbreak, airlines are legally obliged to refund the full amount within 7 days after the flight cancellation.

I have already received a voucher, can I still opt for the refund of my flight?

Even if the airline has already offered you a voucher, you can make a claim for the full refund of your booking's price. If you have purchased your booking with other amenities (package travel) you are still entitled to the refund of the whole package.


Flight-Delayed.co.uk will be happy to help you claim the refund of your cancelled flight or booking

Unfortunately, we see too often that airlines still fail to comply with the legal obligations. Passengers are forced to accept vouchers when they are actually entitled to a refund of their fare.


Flight-Delayed.co.uk will be happy to help you claim the full refund. From submitting the claim to taking the airline to the courts in the event of non-payment. Since 2010, we have been committed to upholding the rights of affected air passengers throughout Europe. Fill in your flight details and find out immediately whether you are entitled to the refund of your ticket. In just 3 minutes you can submit your claim on a 'no win, no fee' basis. Should the airline obstruct the process, we will take them to court if necessary. 


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Missed connecting flight due to a delay: claim compensation


Connecting flights are the vast majority of the flights that passengers miss. If your initial flight is delayed or cancelled, this may cause you to miss a connecting flight later on. If you have checked in for your first flight on time and a delay or cancellation has made you miss a connecting flight, you may very well be entitled to receive compensation.


First of all, if you’ve missed a flight through no fault of your own, the company must provide you with a replacement flight to your final destination or fly you back to where you came from. This includes if your flight has been delayed due to bad weather conditions, political unrest or other extraordinary circumstances. So, if you’re waiting at the airport due to such an event, contact the airline staff at the counter and request an alternative flight immediately. Remember that the airline is responsible for your whole itinerary, from start to finish.


Flight compensation for delays and cancellations


You may be aware that, when flying from the EU or with an EU airline, you can claim compensation if your flight has been delayed or cancelled and you have arrived, generally speaking, with a delay greater than 3 hours (2 for cancellations). However, what most passengers don’t know is that these conditions apply to the whole booking, that includes connecting flights outside of the EU. As mentioned above, the carrier is responsible for transporting you between the contracted points of departure and arrival in your booking. So even if your booking contains more than 2 flights, your rights are covered.


What we’ve mentioned above explains how even a short delay (less than 3 hours) can mean that you’ll arrive at your final destination with a delay greater than 3 hours (missed connection). In this case, you can claim compensation! The Folkerts ruling of February 2013 established that clearly. 


When being in transit and catching a connecting flight, you don't go through the regular check-in process at the counter. However, you do have to go pass through customs and security checkpoints along with the other passengers just arriving at the airport. That's why with connecting flights, checking in 45 minutes in advance for your connecting flight doesn't apply, because you fulfilled your obligation to present yourself at the designated time and place and the airline is at fault for causing you to miss your flight. It’s also their responsibility as they are the ones making such itineraries available for purchase. That means that they have confidence in the fact that they’ll operate the initial flight as scheduled and you’ll be able to make your connection.


Compensation for a missed flight due to a flight delay or cancellation


In order to qualify for compensation under Regulation EC 261/2004, you will have to have checked in on time. If the flight is then delayed or cancelled, or if you are denied boarding, it is clear that you, personally, cannot be blamed for the incident. For instance: there was a technical error, the captain overslept, or the airline overbooked the flight. If you’ve missed a connecting flight due to such a delay or cancellation, check your flight to see if you are entitled to claim compensation with our free claim calculator below:


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Example of an itinerary that would let you claim compensation due to a missed connecting flight


We know that it can all be a tad complicated and confusing, so here you’ll find an example of a booking that would allow you to claim compensation.


British Airways booking from London to Portland in the United States of America


Flight 1. London Heathrow to Dallas/Fort Worth (delayed 90 minutes)


You arrive at Heathrow with time to spare and check your luggage and yourself on time. Everything seems to be going fine until you check the screen to find your gate number and discover that your  BA flight to Dallas has been delayed for 30 minutes. Bummer! However, everything is fine as you have 2 hours to make your connection to Portland. When you arrive at your gate, you gasp as the screen now shows a delay of 60 minutes and you start to wonder if you’ll make your connection. You wait and you board, but due to congestion on the tarmac, you end up taking off 90 minutes later than scheduled.


Flight 2. Dallas/Fort Worth to Portland with American Airlines (missed!)


You’ve landed in Dallas and you are itching to get off the aircraft and run to your gate. Once you’re inside the airport, you have a glance at the screens to realise that your flight’s gate has already been closed. There’s no chance of making it so you head to the British Airways counter and they book you on the next available American Airlines flight to Portland. It’s just a quick 4-hour wait they say. You take it because, well, there’s nothing else you can do unless you want to pay for another flight yourself.


Alternative flight. Dallas/Fort Worth to Portland with American Airlines (+/- 6 hours later – on time!)


Everything goes smoothly and you get into that Airbus A321 and the flight is operated to perfection. You’ve arrived in Portland finally. You look at your e-ticket one more time just to acknowledge the fact that you were supposed to arrive 6 hours earlier. There’s a silver lining though, you are eligible for claiming compensation!


Because you’ve arrived at your final destination with a delay greater than 3 hours, therefore making the length of your original delay irrelevant, British Airways has failed to comply with was stipulated on your contract of carriage. They are now liable for your loss of time and should compensate you under Regulation EU 261/2004.


Compensation for a missed connecting flight, when am I entitled?


These are the conditions that will grant passengers the right to be compensated when they’ve missed a connecting flight:


  • You checked in on time at your original airport of departure
  • Your original flight (or another flight in your schedule) was delayed for more than 15 minutes and this made you miss a connecting flight.
  • Due to your missed connecting flight, you arrived at your final destination with a delay greater than 3 hours when compared to the time of arrival stipulated in your original booking (all flights must be included in the same booking).
  • The cause for the delay can’t be considered an extraordinary circumstance


How much will I receive in compensation for my missed flight?


The distance you were supposed to cover, or that you actually travelled, as stipulated by your original booking will determine the total amount that you’ll receive in compensation. It will be calculated taking into account the distance from your airport of departure and your final destination. Remember, connecting flights are always covered as long as their part of the same booking. As stipulated in Regulation EC 261/2004, the quantities are as follows:


  • For all flights of 1,500 kilometres or less: £220
  • For all intra-community flights of more than 1,500 kilometres and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres: £350
  • For all other flights that do not fall under (A) or (B): £520


Compensation amount if you missed your flight


Please note that if your flight travelled a distance greater than 3,500 kilometres and it was delayed more than 3 hours but fewer than 4, then the sum is reduced by 50%. 


Missed your flight but not entitled to compensation? Ask for the refund of passenger bound taxes


If you have missed your flight but you are not entitled to compensation, you may still be able to get a refund for the taxes you paid. If you do not take a flight, the airline doesn’t have to pay any passenger-bound taxes to the airport. You've already paid these taxes, which can comprise 25% of your ticket price, to the airline nonetheless. Most passengers don’t know that they can ask the airline for a refund of these passenger-bound taxes in most cases.

Sometimes airlines do mention this right in their terms and conditions. So please make sure to check those. There are airlines that will ask for an administration fee if you ask them to refund the taxes, such as Ryanair. This is an odd thing for them to do, especially considering the fact that if you weren't able to take the flight, they will have been able to sell your chair to someone else. In other words: they can get twice as much for one seat.


Keep these things in mind:


  • You didn’t make use of the flight in question
  • The reason the flight was missed is generally irrelevant
  • The airline calculated the airport taxes and the passenger-bound taxes of the local governments
  • The request for a refund was submitted no later than three months after the date of travel
  • In some cases, you will be required to have booked the flight directly with the airline to be able to get the refund


I missed my connecting flight outside of the EU, can I still claim compensation?


Yes, you can! The example we used above was selected to illustrate that you are allowed to claim compensation if your missed connecting flight was set to depart from outside the EU. More importantly, a recent court ruling has set precedent regarding disruptions that happened outside of the EU. This means that if your booking consisted of more than 2 flights and a delay or cancellation affects a flight outside of the EU, but that was part of an itinerary that originated in the EU, you can still be entitled to be compensated.


For example, your booked trip with Etihad was from London to Sydney with a connecting flight in Dubai. Your flight from London to Dubai was on time, zero problems. However, your connecting flight in Dubai (to Sydney) has been cancelled due to technical problems and you’ve been rebooked to the same flight but a day later. You spend the night in Dubai (the airline has to pay for the hotel by the way) and finally, you take the replacement flight and arrive in Sydney 24 hours later than planned. As long as the original cause for the delay is not be considered an extraordinary circumstance, you will be entitled to compensation. Even if the disruption happened outside of the EU.


Can I get a refund if I’ve missed my flight?


As mentioned above, the most important thing is that you’ve checked in and arrived at the gate on time. If this is the case, there would not be a reason for you to miss a flight other than your original flight being delayed or cancelled. If your flight has been delayed for over 5 hours and you do not want to take it anymore, you are entitled to a full refund of your airfare. However, you won’t be entitled to compensation as that is only granted when arriving late at your destination. If your flight has been cancelled and the airline did not provide you with a reasonable alternative flight, you might be entitled to both a refund and compensation.


All these conditions can be tricky and there is some nuance to them, you can let a specialised service, like Flight-Delayed, take care of everything and we’ll ensure you receive what you’re entitled to. Best of all, we’ll take the airline to court if necessary, all under our no win, no fee structure. That means that you only pay our win fee if we succeed at claiming your compensation. Submit your claim and we’ll get working on your case immediately.


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