All You Need To Know About Delayed Flight Compensation

by Darwin on November 22, 2016

Air travel is becoming more and more challenging as airlines try to keep costs in line while they maintain good customer service. As a traveler, you can do your part to make your trip more enjoyable by knowing what to expect if your flight is delayed, canceled or overbooked and if you can claim flight delay compensation.

Flight Delays

Airlines do their best to get you where you are going on time, but sometimes delays are inevitable. A delay can be the result of a mechanical issue with the plane, or weather conditions anywhere along your route. No matter the cause, flight delays are a fact of life when you fly. What many travelers don’t realize is that delayed flight compensation is not a given. In fact, airlines are not required to compensate you in any way if your flight is delayed.

Some airlines offer a form of delayed flight compensation if you are delayed in the airport or after you have already boarded the plane. You may receive a credit that you can use the next time you fly on that airline, or you may be provided with free food, drinks or movies once the flight gets underway.

Sometimes a flight is delayed after it has left the gate, due to traffic or a mechanical issue. Airlines are prohibited from keeping a plane full of passengers waiting on the tarmac for more than three hours, unless a return to the gate would disrupt operations, or if there is a concern for safety or security.


As with delays, the airline is not required to compensate you if your flight is canceled. They are required to book you on the next flight to your destination, as long as there is an available seat. During peak travel times, like Thanksgiving and school breaks, this may mean that you have to wait several hours or even overnight. There is no requirement for the airline to pay for you to stay overnight in a hotel, or to pay for meals, although some airlines may do this if the cancelation is deemed to be their fault.

Overbooked flights

Airlines try to book their flights as efficiently as possible. Sometimes they sell more tickets than they have seats because they are expecting that some travelers won’t show up. Or, they may have to substitute a smaller plane, leaving some customers without seats. The airline will usually ask people if they will voluntarily give up their seat in exchange for a seat on a subsequent flight plus a voucher for future travel. If they don’t get enough volunteers, they can ‘bump’ you to a later flight. In this case, they are required to compensate you for twice the cost of your ticket if your delay is under two hours, or four times the cost if you are more than two hours late to your destination.

Understanding the facts about flight delays, cancelations and overbookings can help you have a smoother travel experience. By planning ahead and allowing plenty of time for connections, you increase your chances of getting where you’re going on time.

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