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A-Z: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Disruption to flights

Extraordinary circumstances 

Disruptions caused by drones at UK airports in 2018 were deemed to be an 'extraordinary circumstance' by the Civil Aviation Authority. This means the disruption was considered to be outside the airlines' control so they are not obliged to pay extra financial compensation to passengers. 

Flights are often cancelled due to adverse weather and other events, such as security risks, that are deemed 'extraordinary'. When this happens passengers are not entitled to standard compensation. However, in these circumstances what can stranded passengers expect? 

The law is clear on what passengers can entitled to. A ticketholder of a cancelled flight is entitled to claim a refund. Alternatively, and the most likely scenario, is that the passenger will still need to get to their destination. In this case the passenger can ask the airline to reroute them to their final destination.

Airlines must take all possible steps to get passengers to their destinations, even if it means using a rival airline. If the airline insists you make your own travel arrangements, keep records and receipts of all costs incurred to claim the money back. Also, make sure your costs are reasonable. The airline will not reimburse first-class travel or five-star hotels when a reasonably priced alternative is available. 

If the delay is more than two hours, passengers can expect food and drink vouchers, then, if continued overnight, accommodation and transfer to the accommodation and back to the airport. 

These passengers’ rights don’t compensate for the essential reason for the journey. However, knowing your rights to obtaining a refund, rerouting or assistance and being persistent about getting these is essential.

The Consumer Council Northern Ireland’s ‘Plane Facts’ is a handy guide to Air Travel. You can pick up a copy from our office or download it online from The Consumer Council. Make sure you always carry it with you when you are flying. 

The law relating to air travel is complex and far too often passengers experience difficulties getting what they are entitled to from the airline. First of all you must check the individual airline’s claim process and follow it. If your claim is rejected, or the airline takes too long to deal with it, you may have to take your complaint further. Most airlines are a member of an Alternative Dispute resolution body that will investigate your complaint. 


Contact us
Consumer Advice Service
028 9027 0525
Cecil Ward Building
4-10 Linenhall Street
Belfast