How to deal with cancelled and delayed flights

Posted by Peter Burnside on 23/08/2018
Know what to do if your holiday travel is disrupted. Photo: Shutterstock / Ekaterina Pokrovsky

Flight delays and cancellations are on the rise and with many more travellers taking to the skies find out what to do if your holiday plans get disrupted. Here’s a simple three step guide for how to deal with cancelled or delayed flights.

Flight cancelled? Or massively delayed? It's not a fun way to start your holiday and having to deal with it, especially if you don't know what to do, can be incredibly stressful. We don't wish it upon anyone, but if it does happen to you just follow this easy-to-use guide on what you can do and what you should be eligible for in terms of compensation. 

1. Delays or cancellations? Here's what you're entitled to from the airline

While the airline should be informing and updating you on delays and cancellations to your journey, don’t forget to check social media for updates as well as the email account you used to book the tickets. The airline’s smartphone app can also be a useful source of information on your trip.

According to EU Regulation 261/2004, the airline is obliged to look after its customers in the event of delays and cancellations, no matter the reasons for the disruptions. Depending on the length of the delay you may be entitled to food and drink. This may come in the form of vouchers.

Overnight delays means the airline should provide you with a hotel room including transport there and back. However, be sure to check whether the airline is booking the hotel for you and, if not, find a reasonably priced room and make sure to keep your receipts to claim for compensation.

For cancelled flights, as soon as the announcement is made you can choose whether you want a REFUND for the cancellation or an ALTERNATIVE flight to your destination, which is also known as rerouting. It doesn’t matter if the flight was cancelled 10 hours or 10 minutes before it was due to depart, nor does it matter why it was cancelled.

2. How your BMC Travel Insurance policy can help

If your flight is cancelled or delayed as a result of industrial action, bad weather or a technical fault on the aircraft, you may be able to claim up to £30 for each full 12 hours that you are delayed up to a maximum of £120.

If your flight is cancelled on your outward journey and the airline cannot offer an alternative within 12 hours, and you choose to abandon your trip, you may be able to make a claim for irrecoverable cancellation costs.

As always, you should check your particular circumstances against your policy wording. For BMC Insurance, read the Evidence of Cover linked to in this document. If in doubt, keep costs to a minimum and keep all receipts. Travel insurance claims are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and assessed upon the merits of each individual claim. The BMC Travel Insurance Claims office can be contacted on 01623 631 331 Mon-Fri  9am-5pm.

3. Compensation up to £540 under EU Regulation 261/2004

Have you been delayed by more than three hours? Or has your flight been cancelled? If so you’re likely to be entitled to compensation worth from £110 up to £540 under EU Regulation 261/2004. It’s easy and free to claim online:

There is a step-by-step guide to claiming, including an online tool, to help manage your complaint with information how to stop airlines getting out of paying out on the Money Saving Expert website.

BMC Travel Insurance

Our insurance is designed to protect you on your adventures, whether that’s bouldering in France, trekking in India or climbing the world’s highest peaks. We’ve got five different policies so that you can find the right fit, from travel, trekking, hill walking, climbing, skiing to mountaineering. We can also arrange specialist cover for unclimbed peaks and inaccessible regions.

READ: 5 reasons why you need BMC Travel Insurance


As Europe is unlocked, BMC travel insurance is loaded with the essential cover that you need for adventure.  

From 10 July, many European destinations are opening up to UK travellers. This means that you can still have your summer adventure – from sport climbing in Spain to trekking in the Alps.

BMC travel insurance comes in five policies: Travel, Trek, Rock, Alpine and Ski and High Altitude.

All of our policies include the following Coronavirus cover:

  • 24-hour emergency assistance helpline
  • £10 million emergency medical cover
  • £100,000 Search, rescue and recovery cover

Please be aware that there is no cover for cancellation, curtailment, delays or journey disruption in any way caused by or resulting from coronavirus / Covid-19. Read more about the Covid-travel FAQs here


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Anonymous User
03/09/2018
I was directly impacted by the Monarch Airways collapse. When I contacted the BMC insurance people they said my policy didn't cover it so I don't think this article should be implying that it is. It would be more helpful to state explicitly what is and is not covered with regard to flight cancellations.

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