How to claim compensation for travel delays

It promises to be a summer of chaos at airports, with thousands of flights cancelled and huge queues, while strikes on the railways haven't helped either. Ruth Jackson explains how to check if you are entitled to compensation.

Trying to travel in, or out of, the UK at the moment is chaos. Staff shortages mean airports and airlines have been struggling to cope with demand in recent months, leading to lengthy queues, delays and cancellations. We’ve also had the biggest rail strikes in decades, leading to cancellations and warnings to avoid rail travel.

Here’s what you can do to get your money back if you’ve been affected by the travel carnage.

Let’s start with the railways. If your train is late, you can claim compensation under the “delay repay” scheme. Some operators will give you back 25% of your fare if your train is between 15 and 29 minutes late. However, most start at a delay of 30 minutes, at which point you get 50% of your fare back. If your train is over an hour late into your destination, you can get a full refund.

You can also get a refund if you choose not to travel, but this only applies if your journey has been cancelled, delayed or rescheduled, according to National Rail Enquiries. To claim money back for a delay, you need to write to the train operator or apply online. Include a photo of your ticket alongside the details of the train journey.

You can also get money back if you have a season ticket. Under normal circumstances, with an annual season ticket, you get 1/464th of the cost of your pass back for every single journey eligible for full compensation. Monthly season ticket holders get 1/40th of the price and weekly passes 1/10th. It’s also worth noting that season ticket holders can claim 100% delay repay compensation if they chose not to travel on strike days, even if their train wasn’t cancelled. If you would like a refund on your entire season ticket you can apply with the original retailer, who will charge you an admin fee of no more than £10.

Flight cancellation chaos

Now for flights. Gatwick Airport recently announced that it was limiting daily flights in July and August due to staff shortages. This means around 4,000 flights out of the airport will be cancelled. Tui, easyJet and KLM have already announced thousands of cancellations, leaving many of us with holiday plans hanging in the balance.

If your flight is cancelled within 14 days of departure, you are entitled to compensation on top of any refund or sweetener your airline or tour operator offers you. The amount you get depends on how far you were meant to travel. It ranges from £220 per person for short flights up to £520 per passenger for long-haul trips.

Delays can also mean payouts. If your flight is delayed by more than three hours, you can apply for compensation from your airline. Short flights up to 1,500km result in payouts of up to £210 per person. Mid-range flights are worth up to £340. If you are flying long haul (over 3,500km) and your flight is delayed three to four hours you can claim up to £250 per passenger. For long-haul delays of over four hours the compensation goes up to £500.

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