What to do if your flight is delayed? 5 steps

Flight delays suck.

But, honestly, there is nothing much you can do about it.

Because these things happen every day.

Sometimes because of technical problems, other times because of airport strikes. So even if you aren’t a frequent traveller, sooner or later you are going to experience it yourself. And then it’s a good thing to know what are your rights in a situation like this and what to do if your flight is delayed.

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

Woman at the airport - What to do if your flight is delayed

How to check if your flight is delayed?

How to find out if your flight is delayed?

Simply check your flight status online.

What to do if your flight is delayed?

What to do when your flight is delayed?

In most situatins there is nothing complicated about it. But... when you are at the airport. With few hundred (or thousand) people around you, all of who have just learned that their flight is delayed or cancelled.

Well, in an environment like this it’s difficult to stay calm.

So save this guide for later, and you’ll always be prepared!

Step 1: Look at your itinerary once again

Is there any other flight?

A flight you are going to miss because of this? If no - go to Step 2.

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

If it’s a flight that was booked separately, then it's harder.

It's called a self transfer flight.

And then most probably you'll have to deal with it yourself.

If you have a very strict schedule - no matter the type of your ticket and how your flight was booked - look for an alternative flight or flights to your destination.

And if you decide so - book a new flight.

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

Woman at the airport

Step 2: Proceed according to your plan

Don’t stress over it.

Flight delays happen every day.

If you are still at home when you learn that your flight is delayed, check your flight status on the website of the airport you are flying from. If it’s just an hour or two, you can spend a bit more time at home and then proceed to the airport as planned.

If you are at the airport and the check-in has already started, head over to the check-in counter. Or - go straight to airport security checkpoint if you are traveling with carry on only and you have already checked in online.

If you have already gone through airport security, sit down somewhere and wait for more information regarding your flight.

Step 3: Follow the information regarding your delayed flight

There are 3 most likely scenarios.

You have already gone through airport security.

Or if you are at the airport and can’t check in.

Or your flight has been delayed for more than a few hours and you are still at home.

Wait for more information.

Either by occasionally checking flight information displays at the airport or by checking the information about departures on the website of the airport. More often than not you aren’t going to learn anything new by calling your airline and paying ridiculous fees for that. Because people at the call centre usually have the same information you have at the airport or online.

Do call them if you don’t understand information available to you.

Small blackboard and cookies - Meal

Step 4: If your flight has been delayed for more than 3 hours

If you have to wait, you have the right to care.

If you are at the airport and if your flight has been delayed for more than 3 hours the airline must provide you with free meal and drink plus two free phone calls, e-mails or faxes.

What to do if it's an even longer delay?

If delay is going to be longer than 3 hours and 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. Yes, even if it's all because of, for instance, extreme weather conditions.

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.

Flight compensations - Rules - ENG

Step 5: Know your rights

If it's a long delay, you might be entitled to flight delay compensation.

There are a lot of situations when you can get EU flight delay compensation.

If in the end you have arrived to your final destination 3 or more hours after the original arrival time you may be eligible to compensation of up to €600 per person. All thanks to Europe's Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 (EC 261), created to protect air passenger rights.

But there are exceptions.

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

Submit your claim for flight delay compensation now.

What to do if your flight is cancelled? See our guide here.

What if your flight is cancelled well in advance? See here.

*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.

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.