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Strike Action & Bad Weather Effects on Flight Delay Compensation

European law, specifically regulation 261/2004, was brought into force to protect the rights of air passengers. Specifically, it gives air passengers the right to claim compensation for delayed or cancelled flights.

Flight delay Claims

This regulation applies to flights which take off from any EU airport, and flights with an EU carrier which land at an EU airport. The law allows passengers to make a claim for a fixed sum for delays over 3 hours, for cancellations and for situations where they are denied boarding.However, the regulation does not apply to instances which are known as “extraordinary circumstances”. In these situations, the airline does not have to pay out.The situations include:

  • Strikes industrial action
  • Political or civil unrest
  • Delays because of Security risks
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Hidden manufacturing defects


Is there anything you can do if you are delayed as a result of these situations?

Even though you can’t claim financial compensation for delays due to these situation, EC regulation 261/2004 still imposes some duties on airlines – known as a ‘duty of care’. Article 9 of the regulation sets out what the airline must do.If your flight is delayed more than two hours the airline must provide:

  • Meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time
  • Hotel accommodation in cases where a stay of one night or more becomes necessary
  • Transport between the airport and the accommodation
  • Two telephone calls or email access


There is, however, a ‘qualifying time’ which relates to the distance of your flight:

  • If you are flying up to 1500km then the time is 2 hours.
  • If you are flying between 1500-3500km then the time is 3 hours
  • If you are flying more than 3500km then the time is 4 hours.


So, if you are flying on a long-haul flight, then you have to go longer without compensation. You have to be self-sufficient up until that point, but that doesn’t stop you claiming once the delay goes over the relevant time for your flight distance.

If you have been delayed for more than 5 hours as a result of strikes/industrial action

If this is the case then you are entitled to claim a refund for the price of your ticket. If you accept this, then you can’t later make a compensation claim.

If your plane is cancelled as a result of strikes/industrial action

If this is the case, then you are automatically entitled to the items listed above (meals, accommodation, telephone access etc). You are also entitled to be given an alternative flight at the first opportunity. Alternatively, you are entitled to a refund and to be returned to your airport of origin. For example, if you are flying from Glasgow to Johannesburg via Athens and your stranded in Athens, then you can ask to be returned to Glasgow.

If your plane is delayed or cancelled due to Air Traffic Control strikes

Air Traffic control strikes are usually classed as extraordinary circumstances and as such not eligible for compensation. There are occasions where Air traffic control will impose restrictions on flights (high winds or fog, for instance) again, these are categorised as extraordinary circumstances and cannot be claimed for.

If your plane is cancelled due to airline staff strikes

If the airlines staff have gone on strike for better pay or working conditions then these again, fall under the heading of extraordinary circumstances. However, there has been moves towards this being regarded as claimable so check back if this happens again.

If your plane is delayed or cancelled due to a baggage handler/airport staff strike

Just prior to Christmas 2016 the baggage handlers at UK airports threatened to strike. This action was eventually called off. These strikes have a sever impact on airline schedules. These aren’t regarded as claimable as, again, they fall under the head of extraordinary circumstances.

If your plane is delayed or cancelled due to cabin crew or pilot illness/sickness

If the delay or cancellation is as a result of an illness or sickness suffered by the cabin crew or pilot, then this falls under the regulation and can be claimed for. Following a court case in 2015 these are regarded as a claimable delay.If you have been affected by a delay involving a pilot or cabin crew sickness, then contact us to begin your flight delay compensation claim.

Flight delay compensation claim form

If your situation isn’t described above, then simply get in touch with us. Fill in our form with your flight number and personal details and we’ll get right back to you. We’ve helped thousands of passengers just like you claim millions in compensation.

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Alternatively, contact us on 0800 038 7999.

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