Readers' questions about last-minute flight cancellations answered

Know your flight rights: Trip grounded at the last minute? Here’s your guide to cutting through the cloud of confusion

The Holiday Guru is always on hand to answer your questions.

Here, he helps readers whose flights and package holidays have been cancelled, letting them know when they’re due a refund or compensation.

Q. What will the airline do, and what compensation will I be entitled to, if my flight is suddenly cancelled?

The Holiday Guru helps readers whose flights have been suddenly cancelled 

A. Your airline must put you on the next flight to your destination, with another airline if necessary, ideally on the same day. You can claim a refund instead, if you prefer. You will also be due compensation, depending on the cause of the cancellation. If you are given fewer than seven days’ notice, this varies from £220 per person for flights under 1,500 km, to £520 for long-haul. See ‘Cancellations’ at

Q. What happens if the airline can’t find a flight to my destination on the same day?

A. It should arrange accommodation for that night — and others, if required — and pay for food. If you cannot get a response from the airline, you can book a reasonably priced hotel yourself and afterwards send a claim with receipts for this and other ‘reasonable’ expenditure, such as food. This is standard procedure.

Q. And if it finds that no alternative flight is available?

A. You will receive a refund and compensation. You are only due your money back if the cancellation is made by the airline within 14 days of your original departure date.

If your flight is cancelled at the last minute, your airline must put you on the next flight to your destination, the Holiday Guru reveals 

Q. What about the accommodation I have booked at my destination — will I get a refund for this?

A. You will need to cancel this, if you can, and try to claim a refund through them. Unfortunately, some accommodation owners may not offer refunds. An airline will not compensate for this.

Q. In this instance, would I be able to claim on my travel insurance?

A. It’s unlikely, as you will have a contract with the accommodation provider and you will not be able to fulfil your side of that, even though it’s not your fault. But it’s worth asking your insurer, just in case.

Q. If a flight is cancelled more than 14 days in advance of its departure, am I due compensation?

A. No, but the airline should get you on another flight, ideally on the same day, or offer a refund.

If you’re forced to wait overnight for another flight after a cancellation, send a claim to the airline with receipts for ‘reasonable’ expenditure, such as food

Q. Will I be due any expenses if I simply go home when a flight is cancelled at short notice, and then come back for the next flight that the airline arranges? If so, how do I claim these?

A. Yes, the airline should cover the transport cost of going to and from the airport. To submit a claim, visit the customer complaint section on the website — at British Airways it is ‘Complaints and Claims’ at It can be a more difficult process if the airline requires receipts. Keep copies of all these and any documents you send, in case they are lost in the mail.

Q. Is any compensation due for delayed flights?

A. If your flight of less than 1,500 km is delayed by three hours or more, depending on the cause, you are entitled to £220. If a flight of 1,500km to 3,500km is delayed by three hours or more, the amount is £350. If a more than 3,500km flight is over four hours late, you can claim £520. See the ‘Delays’ page at

According to the Guru, if your flight of less than 1,500 km is delayed by three hours or more, depending on the cause, you are entitled to £220


  • Consider travelling mid-week to avoid busy weekend peaks.
  • Book a fully protected package holiday rather than looking at flights and accommodation on their own.
  • Avoid checking-in luggage if you can — try to travel light.
  • Check social media and airport websites for up-to-date queue information.
  • Ask for help if you’re queuing and think you’re going to miss your flight.
  • Pay for the fast-track security option.
  • Never keep your keys or medication in checked luggage, in case it goes missing.

Q. My package holiday to Spain later this month has been cancelled — am I entitled to a refund?

A. Under the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations (see, you are due a full refund within 14 days of cancellation. This applies to package holidays and where hotels and flights were bought together. Responsible firms should give refunds without prompting. If a company exceeds the 14-day deadline, it is breaking the law and can be taken to the small claims court.

Q. How can we claim refunds if our train journeys are cancelled and/ or delayed?

A. You can claim a full refund if your train is cancelled. It is best to make the claim within 28 days. Railway websites have complaint procedures, for example, see ‘Train ticket refunds’ at

If a train is delayed by more than half an hour, Citizens Advice counsels that ‘you’ll usually be able to get some money back’, often as much as 50 per cent of the ticket price. You should be refunded the full cost if the delay lasts for more than an hour. See ‘Getting a refund for a cancelled or delayed train’ at


If you need advice the Holiday Guru is here to answer your questions. Send your email to [email protected].

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