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Can I claim compensation if my flight to Spain is cancelled or delayed ?

- Updated: 02/03/2012
Can I claim compensation if my flight to Spain is cancelled or delayed ?

The good news is that the EU does recognise certain circumstances when you are entitled to be awarded compensation in the event of your flight being cancelled or delayed. This is covered under the terms of EU Regulation 261/2004.

However, you will need to study the small print in the terms and conditions that you would have been prompted to agree to prior to the purchase of any tickets. As with most situations in life, compensation will only be awarded when liability can be proven, and this is something that most airlines will be at pains to deny.

Delays or cancellations due to `Extraordinary Circumstances´ or `Acts of God´ are usually mean that the airline is not to blame, and therefore that no compensation will be forthcoming, however there are still many potential cases for damages that go unclaimed by by passengers each year.

Are you entitled to compensation ?

Firstly: you may be entitled to claim compensation under the terms of any travel insurance policy that you have taken out - whether this is through your travel agent, with the airline itself, or by purchasing it directly.

Secondly: the amount you are entitled to claim, if at all, and the amount payable will vary due to the nature of your complaint - whether a delay or a cancellation.

Thirdly: any compensation that maybe due will be calculated on the distance of your journey and the duration of your delay.


In 2009 the European Parliament decided that passengers effected by delays may be entitled to compensation depending on the length of delay, however this is currently undergoing appeal by the airlines. Under all circumstances, each airline is still required to provide each passenger with free meals, drinks and 2 phone calls .

If you are flying between the UK and Spain (and it´s Islands) you will fall within one of two brackets :

Flight Distance up to 1500 kms (Such as flights between Southern UK airports to Northern / Central Spain)

If your flight is delayed by up to 2 hours you will not be entitled to any financial compensation (other than the requisite Meals, Drinks & Calls), but you can claim €250 for delays in excess of 3 hours.

Flight Distances between 1500-3000 kms (Such as from Scotland / Northern England to Southern Spain, or UK to Canary Islands)

As above, however compensation rises to €400 for delays in excess of 3 hours.

Once delays have extended beyond 5 hours passengers are eligible for a full refund, and transfer to a Hotel room if the delay looks likely to extend into the night.


The cancellation of your flight entitles the passenger to either a full refund of their ticket or alternative transports as soon as available.

Cancellations made within 14 days of the scheduled flight, will also be awarded up to €600, depending on the period of notice you were given before the flight was due to leave, together with the distance of the flight that you were due to take. If you decide to take the offer of an alternative flight, the compensation due is then calculated based on the total delay (if any) in time between your planned and actual arrival.

Flight Distance up to 1500 kms (Such as flights between Southern UK airports to Northern / Central Spain)

If the difference between your planned and actual time of arrival is up to 2 hours you can claim €125. For differences of 2 Hours or more, the compensation rises to €250.

Flight Distances between 1500-3000 kms (Such as from Scotland / Northern England to Southern Spain, or UK to Canary Islands)

If the difference between your planned and actual time of arrival is up to 3 hours you can claim €200. For differences of 3 Hours or more, the compensation rises to €400.

What next ?

Once you have an idea on what you believe you are entitled to claim, you should firstly contact the customer services department of your airline. Explain that you wish to make a claim and ask them to either process your claim over the phone (In which case make sure that you ask for a reference number and contact name) or for them to e mail you the appropriate documentation for you to return.

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Of course, this all sounds good in theory, but the reality is that airlines will do everything that they can to insist that your claim is not legitimate and that any such delays or cancellations were due to the aforementioned `Extraordinary Circumstances´ or `Acts of God´ - and these are generally taken to mean problems resulting from strike action, weather conditions or threats to security.

However, any airline that refuses to pay out compensation when a claim is legitimate will be penalised to the effect of €5´000 for every effected passenger on the flight in question.

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Comment on this Article

Thank you for your prompt response. I suspected that Ryanair were unlikely to reimburse me and it is almost impossible to contact them to discuss such matters. Sadly, they have little regard for passengers and appear to be interested only in profit. No doubt they will continue to prosper through their insidious policy of passing on rising costs to customers.
Ian Gibson - Tue 10th Jul 2012
Ian : As much as I sympathise with you, and as unfair as it seems, the airlines are not responsible for your travel arrangements to or from the airport in these circumstances and you will find it almost impossible to get them to contribute to any excess costs you will have had to have paid.
Tumbit - Admin - Mon 9th Jul 2012
Last year I booked Ryanair return flights to Girona for September this year. Ryanair subsequently ceased Girona operations and offered flights on different dates to Barcelona, which I accepted - although they were more expensive. I also had to pay considerably more for new transfer arrangements. Am I entitled to compensation?
Ian Gibson - Mon 9th Jul 2012
We were do to fly to Dubai at 20.35 from Heathrow we boarded and we were told after 3hours that due to a hydraulics problem we would not fly and that we would fly the following evening at 19.00.
R.berquez - Fri 27th Jan 2012
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