Don’t let the misery of the plane or the train touch your pocket

Don’t let plane or train misery get to you: pay by credit card – and check the fine print

Travelers are facing a summer of chaos with canceled flights, long queues at the airport and strikes by railway workers leaving millions of people in misery.

Unfortunately, escaping the chaos will not be easy.

But you can still claim compensation if your travel or vacation plans are disrupted.

Chaos: But you can claim canceled flights that ruin your travel plans and vacation


Airlines often claim that “extraordinary circumstances” – such as extreme weather or unrelated industrial action – are behind many plane cancellations and delays. This allows them to avoid paying compensation.

But staff shortages, airline strikes, overbookings, problems discovered in routine maintenance and delays caused by previous flights affected by weather conditions are not “extraordinary circumstances”. In such situations, you can claim with an airline if your flight is canceled or delayed three hours or more beyond a scheduled arrival time.

You may be entitled to £220 for a short-haul flight, £350 if you travel between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometers and £520 if the intended journey was over 3,500 kilometres.

If a flight is delayed for more than five hours, you also have the right not to take it, but instead request a full refund of the fare. However, those who have already accepted an alternative flight should be aware that they have waived a right of complaint.

If your claim is rejected by the airline, you can contact the Civil Aviation Authority and ask their advice and passenger complaints team to take the cudgels on your behalf. The authority also provides details of the complaints rules at If they are unable to help you, you can also take your case to the AviationADR dispute resolution system. Unfortunately, travelers who miss a flight due to long lines at check-in or security have no cause for complaint. So show up at the airport well in advance.


National railway strikes are due to start in nine days – and continue on June 23 and 25. National Rail says passengers who purchased tickets in advance to travel on the strike days “may be entitled to a refund”.

But the claims process varies from one railway company to another. If an alternative service, such as a bus replacement, is provided, any claim will only be considered if delayed or cancelled.

You should always contact the train company to see if you can change your trip to another day at no additional cost.

Most train providers have adhered to a compensation scheme for delays. This entitles passengers to compensation equivalent to 25% of the cost of a one-way trip in the event of a delay of between 15 and 29 minutes.

Those who are delayed between 30 and 59 minutes can claim half the cost of a single journey while those who are delayed between one and two hours are entitled to the full cost of a single journey.

You must be delayed for more than two hours to obtain a full refund of the cost of the return trip.

Only a third of all eligible passengers bother to claim, as a form often has to be obtained from a local counter, completed and then sent in with supporting ticket stubs.

Some rail companies such as Greater Anglia now have smartphone apps that passengers can use to make a claim while still on a delayed train.

Pay by credit card – and check out the fine print

Take out comprehensive travel insurance. Check the fine print policy to make sure it covers the cost of any trip failures. For example, not only the price of replacement flights, but also other transport and accommodation costs.

Make sure the coverage includes “Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance”. You might have to pay extra for it, but it’s money well spent.

Pay for your trip with a credit card. This means you may be able to make a claim under ‘Section 75’ of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 if an airline or holiday agency goes bankrupt – or if travel paid for with this card is canceled unexpectedly.

Know your rights. Don’t let the airlines fool you with “extraordinary circumstances” excuses. The Civil Aviation Authority has all the details on when and how to make a claim.

If your airline rejects a claim, you can take the matter to AviationADR.

For train travel, claim compensation for delays and cancellations through the train operator you used. These are usually signed for “delayed refund” travel rules.


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