01.10.2018

What to do if your flight is cancelled? 5 steps

Flight disruptions happen every day.

Flights get delayed or cancelled due to number of reasons, including aircraft technical problems, extreme weather conditions and employee strikes. But, honestly, there is nothing much you can do about it. And even if you aren’t flying that often you may have to experience it yourself one day.

What to do if your flight is cancelled?

Can you get a compensation of any sort?

Check your compensation online!

Or continue reading to learn more about your rights.

Man and woman at the airport - What to do if your flight is cancelled

What to do if your flight is cancelled?

The laws can be confusing.

To help you not get lost in the world of bureaucracy, we have created this easy-to-follow 5 step guide. Save it for later, and you’ll always be prepared!

So, what happens if your flight is cancelled? What to do when your flight is cancelled?

Step 1: Your flight is cancelled

Where are you right now?

If you are at the airport, wait for the following announcement.

If you can, connect to the internet to check your email. Even though it’s highly unlikely to happen that fast, maybe there is an email from your airline describing the situation.

Otherwise - wait for the announcement from the airline.

They will offer you another flight (or several) to your destination.

It can be a flight with them or with another airline.

Or a full refund.

If you are still at home, contact your airline.

If your flight is in less than 24 hours, you have learned that your flight is cancelled, but you haven’t yet received any message from the airline and you have a very strict schedule, call your airline to ask what to do next.

Otherwise just wait for now.

You will receive an explanation from your airline.

If your flight is cancelled more than 2 weeks before the trip, here is what you need to know.

A grey and cloudy sky at the airport

What happens if your flight is cancelled due to weather conditions?

What if it's something like this?

Something that is out of your airline's control?

There are two things to remember. Even in these situations you have the right to care. And even if your flight is cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances, even then there are very specific rules, how the airline should handle this. In short - in the EU you should be given a choice between a new flight or a full refund (paid in 7 days).

Step 2: Look at your itinerary once again

Do you have something that you may miss because of this cancellation?

Other flight, train, bus or ferry?

If no - go to Step 3.

Do you have a connecting flight?

If you have a connecting flight that you have booked together with this flight, then there is nothing to worry about. The airline will take care of this by putting you on another flight at no extra cost to you. You may not have to do anything at all.

If it’s a flight that was booked separately, then it's different. It's called a self transfer flight, and you have fewer rights in these situations.

Even if your another flight is with the same airline.

Because it's gonna be your responsibility to book another flight.

The same stands for train, bus, ferry or any other mode of transportation.

Step 3: Make a decision

Look at the options offered by your airline and make a decision.

Which mostly will mean choosing between a new flight (for free) and refund.

If you are taking a refund and are planning to book another flight to your destination yourself, do it now. Find a new flight and book it.

A red alarm clock

Step 4: If you have to wait for more than 3 hours

No matter the circumstances, often you have the right to care.

If you are at the airport and if you will have to wait for more than 3 hours until the next flight (assuming that you have chosen another flight offered), then the airline must provide you with free meal and drink plus two free phone calls, e-mails or faxes.

Under the same circumstances and in case of an overnight wait the airline must provide you with free hotel accommodation and transport to and from it.

How can you get all of that?

Wait for the announcement from the airline.

Or if it’s not coming, contact the airline yourself.

Step 5: Get compensation for a cancelled flight

Don't forget about flight cancellation compensation.

Mostly people don’t know what to do when flight is cancelled, thus they are happy if anything at all is offered. What you should know is that whenever flight is cancelled and it’s the airline’s fault, you may be entitled to flight cancellation compensation of up to €600 per passenger.

And the airline still has to take you to your destination or give you a full refund.

That’s if you are flying to or from Europe*.

If you're flying with a non-EU airline, these rules apply only to flights from Europe.

You don’t even have to be a citizen of the European Union.

Let’s go a little bit more into details now.

Flight compensations - Rules - ENG

If you are notified of the cancellation between 7 - 14 days before the scheduled time of departure:

  • You choose a new flight offered by your airline, departing not more than 2 hours before the original departure time and you reach your final destination not more than 4 hours after the original arrival time. In this situation you are not entitled to compensation.
  • In other situations you are entitled to compensation.

If you are notified of the cancellation less than 7 days before the scheduled time of departure:

  • You choose a new flight offered by your airline, departing not more than 1 hour before the original departure time and you reach your destination not more than 2 hours after the original arrival time. In this situation you are not entitled to compensation.
  • In other situations you are entitled to compensation.

Yes, sometimes a 2 hour flight delay is enough for you to get a compensation.

All thanks to regulation EC 261, created to protect air passenger rights.

Submit your claim for flight cancellation compensation now.

What to do if your flight is delayed not cancelled? Read about it here.


*In this case, Europe means all EU Member States and Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

While some of the things mentioned in this guide apply only to flights to or from Europe and flights operated by European airlines, some of it applies to all situations no matter where you are flying to and with which airline.