28.07.2022

Last-minute flight cancellation: What are your rights?

Last-minute flight cancellation policies?

What to do if your flight is cancelled last-minute? Because things like this happen every day, and there is a whole list of reasons why flights get cancelled. You may have experienced a last-minute cancellation yourself. Could you be entitled to EU flight cancellation compensation?

If it’s a flight that either departed from or arrived to the EU, EEA or UK, there’s a chance you might be entitled to cancellation compensation.

Check your compensation online.

Or continue reading to learn more about your rights.

Had an issue with a flight recently? You might be eligible for up to 600€ compensation Check your compensation

Young disappointed woman sitting next to a suitcase

Can airlines cancel flights last-minute?

They can, and they do that.

Sometimes it happens because they mess up something, other times -- it's caused by something that isn't under their control. It's not something you can change, last-minute cancellations are happening and will happen. But you can be prepared, and know your rights.

1. Last-minute flight cancellation. How to find out that your flight has been cancelled?

Here’s how it usually happens:

  • You receive an e-mail or SMS from your airline;
  • You are checking your flight status online, and there you see that your flight is cancelled;
  • You learn of it at the airport, or even at the gate.

If a flight is cancelled less than 2 weeks before the departure, it's considered a last-minute flight cancellation -- often you are eligible to EU flight cancellation compensation.

A flight cancelled last-minute is no fun.

2. What to do if your flight is cancelled last-minute?

Are you still at home or already at the airport?

You might be entitled to compensation. You'll check that later. But don't forget about that -- it is important, and you may be entitled to up to 600 euro.

2.1 If you are still at home

Do not rush to the airport.

Call the airline and find out what to do next.

In the EU and UK, the airline has to provide you with a new ticket or give you a full refund. Even if the flight is cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances. Whatever the reason of the cancellation, you have a right to be taken to your destination or given a full refund. Even if that isn’t airline's fault.

If your schedule is really tight, opt for a refund and see if you can get a new flight right away. Before you make a booking, check if it isn’t delayed.

2.2 If you are already at the airport

1. Look at your itinerary

Do you have any other flight today or tomorrow?

Is there a flight you may miss because of this?

If it’s a connecting flight booked together with this flight, then you have nothing to worry about. The airline will take care of that. Most likely, if you miss the connecting flight, you'll be put on another flight for free -- airline will take you to your destination.

If it’s a flight booked separately, then it's more difficult.

Flights like these are called self transfer flights.

If you miss anything, you have to deal with it yourself.

But you may get compensation for your bad flight.

Find out if you are eligible for EU / UK flight delay compensation Check your flight

Croatia Airlines airplane

2. Get a new ticket

Head to the counter or office of your airline.

If you can’t find an office, contact the airport information counter or go to the check-in desk to ask for directions or information regarding the cancellation. The airline must provide you with a new flight to your destination.

If the next available flight is on the next day, the airline must provide you with a free hotel and free transfer. In Europe, it’s called right to care.

You can also opt for a refund and try to find a different

If you booked a flight from one airline but it was operated by another airline, contact the airline you made a booking from -- they are responsible for finding a solution. This happens because airlines sometimes share flights.

2.3 Know that you have the right to care

If you have to wait 3+ hours, you have a right to care.

If you are at the airport and you find out that your flight has been cancelled and you have to wait for more than 3 hours, the airline must provide you with free meal and drink plus two free phone calls, e-mails or faxes. If you’ll have to wait overnight, then the airline must provide you with free hotel accommodation and transport to and from it.

How you can get all of that?

Wait for the announcement from your airline.

In Europe airline must take care of you even if it's not their fault that flight got cancelled. Yes, even if it's all because of, for instance, extreme weather conditions. If a flight is departing from Europe, the rules are the same also when you're flying with non-EU airlines.

You don’t even have to be a citizen of the European Union to receive any of that - everyone has a right to care, no matter the citizenship or travel class.

Calculate your flight compensation for free! It takes less than 2 minutes Calculate compensation

Woman walking in an empty airport

3. Are you eligible for last-minute flight cancellation compensation?

As long as you haven't been notified by the airline at least 14 days in advance and your flight falls under the EC 261 (see the rules below), the answer will be yes. And in this case you can receive both EU flight cancellation compensation and full refund (if you choose it, not a new flight).

To be entitled to compensation:

It doesn't matter if you're a European or not.

You don't need travel insurance to claim EU flight compensation.

4. How to claim compensation?

The most important thing is to file a claim.

This means getting in touch with the airline in any way, to ask for compensation. Because, unfourtunately, if you do nothing, you’ll get nothing. No matter if it's a last-minute cancellation or long delay. You can do it all on your own, or you can let us to do in on your behalf.

The best part about working with us? It's risk-free. If we can’t get your compensation, it will cost you nothing. No win, no fees.

Check your compensation online!

Young woman waiting for a flight at the airport

What if your flight is cancelled more than 2 weeks before the trip? What are your rights in these situations? You can still get a full refund or new flight, but you can’t get a compensation. Check out this guide to learn more.


By Europe and EU we mean all EU Member States, the United Kingdom (UK), Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, Saint Martin, the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.