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Compensation for delayed and canceled flights is not a new thing. In fact, in many parts of the world it’s actually a requirement that the airline compensates you when they delay your flight.

However just like any other compensation claim, you will have to ensure that you follow the right procedure to increase your chances of getting the money that you deserve.

To help you identify when you might be entitled to compensation, we have put together the following guide, with tips on how to file your claim and the top airlines that compensate their clients for delayed flights.

5 Airlines That Will Compensate You if Your Flight is Cancelled or Delayed

Airport

Southwest

If Southwest passengers have their flight canceled or delayed for one or more reasons within the airline’s control, the airline allows them to rebook on another flight or if they like, get a refund of their airfare.

Southwest is one of the airlines that gives the most generous compensation in the industry. Another fantastic thing about the carrier is that you can cancel your flight up to 10 minutes before your departure and use the fare on another ticket in a year’s time.

United

Another airline known to compensate passengers when their flight is canceled or delayed is United.

The United airlines compensation for delay can be determined using their free app or website to check whether your flight qualifies and if it does, they handle the rest.

Delta

With Delta, you will be eligible for a refund if your Delta flight is canceled or delayed for more than 90 minutes. However, the cause of the delay or cancellation should be according to their compensation policy.

Delta also offers you rebooking on other Delta flights or other carriers, transportation to accommodation, and lodging vouchers.

Delta Plane at JFK airport

Photo credit: Andrés Nieto Porras

JetBlue

If your flight was canceled due to an incoming storm and you had reserved with JetBlue, you can be sure that you will be sorted. JetBlue is one of the few carriers that considers inclement weather as applicable for compensation.

The airline will allow for rebooking without charging any extra fee. Furthermore, passengers for which the flight was delayed can use an online tool to check whether their flight qualifies for compensation depending on the delay.

Alaska

Alaskan airlines will compensate passengers if their flight is delayed for more than two hours by offering a discount on their future trip.

They also cater for the accommodation of passengers who stay up to 100 miles away in case of a cancellation.

How to Know if You Have a Claim?

There is no doubt that airlines don’t make it easy for you when you are seeking compensation for a delay or cancellation. But that shouldn’t deter you from lodging a claim.

It’s worth noting that you can be compensated in a number of ways, including a cash refund, airline points, vouchers, accommodations or a combination of these options.

In the United States, the airline passenger bill of rights from the Department of Transportation outlines the situations that qualify for compensation. For example, all airlines have to follow a standard rule should there be delays. These may include catering for the accommodation of the affected passengers and rebooking them for the next flight in line.

The circumstances that will make your claim justified is if the delay was caused by what the airline could control. Such situations include maintenance issues, change of equipment, crew changes or overbooking which may result in your bumping off of your flight.

When Compensation is Not Justified

The fact that you have the right to a compensation in the instance your flight is delayed does not mean that you will get a compensation every time you feel like you deserve one.

There are different factors to be considered, and the following are the times you probably won’t have justification for a claim:

Bad Weather

One of the common reasons why flights get delayed is bad weather. And when looked at closely, you will realize that this delay or cancellation is beneficial to you since it is about your safety.

Such situations are beyond the control of the airline, so they don’t compensate you for the delay. The best you can do is sit back and make the best of the situation.

New York weather RF

Airport Failures

Just because an airline uses the airport, doesn’t mean that they have control over everything that happens there.

Airports have many moving parts, and if one of them fails, there is a high chance that the flights coming in and going out will be delayed. In such cases, don’t expect any compensation from your air carrier.

Air Traffic Control

When you think about it, controlling traffic is no easy task, and if it gets to the level where flights get delayed to control it, then the issue must be big.

So, if the controller downs the flights, there is nothing your airline can do but to comply and delay the flights. As such, you will not be eligible for compensation.

Personal Schedules

Don’t expect any compensation from an airline if your own personal issues caused you to miss a flight, including a traffic snarl-up on the way to the airport.

Also, it can happen that after an announced delay, the matter is corrected and the plane leaves at the intended time. If this happens you will not receive any compensation.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

If you enjoy getting social, you can follow their journey on FacebookTwitterYouTubePinterest and Instagram.

    14 Comments

  1. Let’s just say that in real life, these airlines have a very interesting method of “passing the buck”. From scheduling ridiculous numbers of departures for the same instant (which means the delay can be blamed on the airport traffic control) or not having the crew available (or with time left to work) – and they will claim that delay on another delay from another flight to deny you compensation or, more importantly, to get you to your destination on time and as promised.

    Sorry- I’ve traveled too long and for too many hundreds of thousands of miles (I could use millions) to buy into the stories I’ve been told over the decades.

    • Sorry to hear that you’ve been messed around in these situations Roy – I like to think that there’s been more pressure in holding airlines accountable now that the age of social media has kicked in, and it’s easy for anyone to hold them publicly accountable for misgivings.

      While not to do with delays or compensation, the United saga last year was one example, and all other airlines were quick to issue media releases that they have friendlier policies etc and really take care of their passengers. So I think consumers have a lot more power than we used to in ensuring we’re compensated fairly when the situation calls for it.

  2. Great tips! I think people often book with ‘budget airlines’, to travel as cheaply as they can. However, this can come back to bite you if your flight is delayed, and then you miss a connecting flight/ferry etc. Always good to read the fine print and also have travel insurance. I now find I would rather pay more for a higher-end carrier for the peace of mind.

    • Thanks Katie – I was actually talking with mike about this today – we flew a budget airline and were tallying up how much you would pay for all the extras; the flight cost might be cheap initially, but once you tally in things like baggage, seat selection, food, and then of course they’re not going to cover you if you’re delayed so you would be out those costs too. You get what you pay for, always!

  3. Great information, for something that happens to most travellers. I don’t have much experience with US airlines but in Europe especially the budget airlines they’re notorious for ‘passing the buck’ and it’s so time-consuming to get some compensation. Hopefully things will get better.

    • Thanks Aimee, yes I think that pretty much every traveler would have run into some type of cancellation or delay at some point. Cancellations less so, but delays seem to happen almost daily.

      Sad to hear that European airlines have developed a habit of passing the buck. It would be lovely if airlines could start treating passengers like people as opposed to $$$. I will keep my fingers crossed for things to get better too.

  4. It’s great that Jetblue will compensate you even when it’s a weather issue! In the EU fortunately there are regulations to ensure that all airlines give proper compensation (if the delay or cancellation is due to something within their control). I once got compensated £218 (much more than the flight cost) because my flight was delayed due to a technical fault.

    • JetBlue are fabulous, they’re such a customer friendly airline. Fabulous to hear about the EU regulations – more countries should take note!

      That’s amazing that you actually profited off a delay once!! Obviously you probably would have rathered get to your destination, but can’t argue with a refund + some!

  5. Megan, This is a very handy list to have. If you qualify for compensation it could really be a benefit for your immediate or future travel plans. We had a flight canceled on Alaska Airlines during Memorial Day weekend (We believe it was a pilot no show) and they gave us a $200 airline credit and a free hotel stay.

    • Hi Lara, so glad to hear that you were compensated fairly when they delayed your flight. And glad you found the info here handy 🙂 Yes, it really makes all the difference when you feel the airline is treating you fairly as opposed to not caring. I think we all understand that things happen, but customer service is always at the heart of a successful company.

  6. Oh I love your articles! What a useful summary. I’ve never taken Jetblue nor Southwest before, but i know Southwest is an amazing company that boasts of efficiency! I took Delta before and I really love the airline too. Surprisingly for the good service and package, it’s rather cheap!

    • Thanks Chloe! Both JetBlue and Southwest are fabulous airlines, and both with excellent reputations for customer service. Delta is great too, I’ve got a credit card with them to accumulate rewards when I fly in the States 🙂

  7. I usually just stick to Jet Blue and United, I always get bad customer service with Delta.

    • I like both Jet Blue and United too – sorry to hear you’ve had bad luck with Delta 🙁

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