Flight cancelled? You can get a refund or alternative flight – but no compensation
If your flight was cancelled, the airline must give you a choice of two options, regardless of the reason for the cancellation and how much notice you’re given.
You can choose between:
- A full refund. This includes money back for both legs of your journey if you have booked a return ticket.
- An alternative flight. If you still want to travel, your airline must find you an alternative flight. This has to be a) at the earliest opportunity, or b) at your leisure, subject to seat availability.
It’s worth noting you may be entitled to ask for a flight on an alternative airline, if the one you’re offered by the original airline is inconvenient. If you find a better flight with an alternative airline you can ask to be booked onto that instead – don’t just book it yourself.
There’s no firm rule on when your airline has to agree to put you on an alternative airline, but the Civil Aviation Authority says you should be re-routed on the same day as your original flight.
In the first instance contact the airline to see what help it can offer – you shouldn’t be charged for switching to an alternative flight.
If you need to fly from a different airport, the airline should arrange your transport or cover reasonable costs – so ask about this when it is rebooking your flight, before deciding how you’ll get to the new airport.
Under EU rules, airlines must often pay additional compensation for delayed or cancelled flights if the cause was something within their control. See our Flight Delays guide for full info. However, air traffic control issues aren’t likely to be classed as something within an airline’s control, so you’re unlikely to get additional compensation in this case.