What to do if your flight is cancelled or delayed

Manchester Airport has been plunged into chaos after a power cut caused flights to be cancelled and delayed today (Picture: Reuters)

Passengers at Manchester Airport are facing major disruption after a power cut forced two of its three terminals out of action.

Flights have been cancelled from both Terminal 1 and 2, while journeys still going ahead are severely affected by delays.

Those who have seen their flight cancelled will be left wondering what happens now and what their rights are.

We’ve taken a look at exactly what you can do when your flight is cancelled or delayed.

What can you do if your flight has been cancelled? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know (Picture: MCPIX)

What am I entitled to if they cancel my flight?

When flying to or from the UK, passengers are fairly well protected by UK laws when it comes to flights being cancelled.

Here’s a breakdown of what those rights are, according to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

First of all, airlines must provide you with care and assistance, which includes supplying a reasonable amount of food, drink and means of communication.

This often comes in the way of vouchers to use at shops and restaurants.

If you are re-booked onto a flight the following day, the airline must provide you with accommodation, usually in a nearby hotel, as well as transport to and from the airport.

Even if the delay lasts longer than one day, an airline must still put you up until they are able to provide the service and get you to your destination.

When major disruption hits, airlines sometimes struggle to assist the large number of passengers. If this happens to you, make sure you keep every receipt for everything you paid for until you board your replacement flight.

This must be within reason, such as food, drink and emergency accommodation.

Will I be refunded for a cancelled flight if I no longer wish to fly?

In short, yes.

CAA guidance says: ‘You can get your money back for all parts of the ticket you haven’t used. For instance, if you have booked a return flight and the outbound leg is cancelled, you can get the full cost of the return ticket back from your airline.

‘If you are a transfer passenger and you have already completed part of your journey, you are also entitled to a flight back to your original departure point when your connecting flight is cancelled and you decide not to continue your journey.’

Will I get compensation for a cancelled flight?

This is a bit of a grey area, but the rule of thumb is that if your flight is completely cancelled without 14 days notice, you are entitled to claim compensation.

Each airline will vary in their cancellation policies – and it’s worth checking how it works for the specific airline you are flying with.

The cause of the cancellation can be a loophole for airlines, however. For example, if it wasn’t the airline’s fault, don’t expect to receive any compensation.

The CAA says: ‘Disruptions caused by things like extreme weather, airport or air traffic control employee strikes or other “extraordinary circumstances” are not eligible for compensation.’

Whether or not a power cut would fall under this category would be a topic of debate, so you will need to follow up with your specific airline regarding cancellation compensation.

For further information about exactly how much compensation you could be entitled to, it’s worth looking at the CAA rules here.

What to do if your flight is delayed

The first step to protecting your holiday from delays starts before you even pack your bags: travel insurance.

Many insurers offer cover for customers who can prove they missed their flight due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ out of their control, according to Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel.

He writes on Which?: ‘Evidence that you turned up at the time advised by the airport or airline could be crucial, so keep your bus ticket or parking stub, and any receipts from shops or restaurants inside the terminal.

Travellers who experience delays at check-in or security processing should also ‘make a fuss’ if their flight is due to take off soon for example by asking staff to take them to the front.

Mr Boland added: ‘Buried in the T&Cs of many airlines is a promise to help, and some will let you rebook for free in such instances.’

If staff are hard to come by, airlines must usually provide updates online – but if this fails, you can also enter your flight number on FlightRadar24 for real-time tracking of the plane you’re due to catch.

Airlines must compensate passengers unless they can prove the disruption was out of their control (Picture: Reuters)

Under UK law, airlines must provide passengers experiencing ‘significant delays’ with food and drink (usually in voucher form), means of communication and, if their flight is pushed back a day, temporary accommodation and transport to the lodgings.

‘Significant delays’ mean waits of more than two hours for short-haul flights, three hours for medium-haul and four hours for long-haul.

Passengers due to travel on UK or EU-regulated flights are also legally entitled to compensation for delays of more than three hours to the arrival time – starting with £210 for short-haul flights – unless caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’ out of their hands.

These rules cover any flights leaving from a UK or EU airport and do not change if the airline is based in another country, according to MoneySavingExpert.

That means they still apply if you fly between two EU countries, or fly elsewhere on an EU-regulated flight that has nothing to do with the UK.

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They also usually apply if the delay stops you from boarding a connecting flight from a non-UK, non-EU airport if both legs were part of a single booking, or if that connecting flight was similarly delayed.

If your flight is delayed by more than five hours and you no longer want to catch it, you are entitled to a full refund regardless of the cause, according to Citizens’ Advice.

Be wary of doing this if you still plan to get to your destination by other means: the return flight purchased through your original operator may be included as part of the same refunded booking.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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