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Does a 2 hour flight delay get you compensation?

Does a 2-hour flight delay get you compensation?

On average, 30,000 flights are delayed around the world every day – a problem so common that many people don’t realize that even a 2-hour delay grants them certain rights under many countries’ laws.

That’s because when your flight is delayed, even two hours can be a huge inconvenience. Travelers on business trips may miss meetings, and people with kids in tow might need to stop for extra food.

Many people rely on the meals included in their flight tickets, so aren’t prepared to wait an extra two hours for their next meal – which can feel like an eternity when you’re stuck in the airport. And it’s quite likely that you may need to reschedule travel arrangements at your destination.

Fortunately, airlines are legally required to provide you with food, communication methods, and a few other necessary things depending on the circumstances of your delay.

If you find yourself stranded at the airport for two hours or more due to a flight delay, here’s what to expect from the airline you’re flying with – and what to do if the airline doesn’t comply with the law.

Compensation for 2-hour flight delays: an overview

Many countries around the world have laws that require airlines to compensate passengers for flight delays and cancellations under The Montreal Convention, an international standard for passengers’ rights.

The common cutoff you’ll hear about is a delay of three hours or more, because delays longer than three hours entitle you to financial compensation under both EU and Canadian law.

However, if your delay is longer than two hours, you’re legally entitled to these three things:

Food and refreshments in proportion to the time and length of the delay. For a 2-hour delay, that might mean different things at different times – so, for example, if the flight is delayed in the mid-afternoon, they may only be required to provide a small snack and some water. If your flight is delayed near a common mealtime, they might need to offer you something more substantial.

What does that look like? Usually, they’ll hand out food vouchers or snacks to comply with this obligation depending on the timing of the delay.

However, this can also depend on how close you are to boarding. They can offer simple snacks rather than food vouchers if you’re less than 30 minutes away from boarding, even if the delay was at a mealtime.

Telecommunications including free phone calls and emails. Usually airports will have free Wi-Fi which automatically makes them compliant, but they might also let travelers use the phone at the gate. If your cell phone battery runs out and you need to make a call, the airline should be willing to accommodate you during a delay.

Information about the delay in an accessible format every 30 minutes. The airline must update you on the status of your flight at regular 30-minute intervals to ensure you’re up-to-date on when you can expect to make it to your destination.

Flight delays longer than two hours don’t entitle you to financial compensation – but flight delays longer than three hours will! Understanding your rights will help you when your flights are delayed, as this can help you claim compensation you’re entitled to as soon as possible.

Below, we’ll cover what to do if your flight is delayed more than two hours, plus some common questions about specific scenarios that may entitle you to certain benefits.

What to do if your flight is delayed longer than 2 hours

First of all, try not to panic. A flight delay can be a massive inconvenience, especially if you’re travelling with small children, pets, or vulnerable passengers – but you have rights that entitle you to refreshments and communications for delays over 2 hours, and compensation if the delay extends beyond 3 hours.

The main things you should do are:

1. Save your receipts

If you don’t receive a voucher for food from the airline but you need to buy a snack to tide you (or your hungry children) over, save your receipts!

With that in mind, it’s also important to remember that the airline is only obligated to offer you refreshments proportional to the length of your wait. So if you’re eyeing a big steak at a luxury restaurant, it might not count if your delay is only a few minutes over two hours. Airlines also won’t cover alcohol with meals, no matter how much your delay has you craving a beer.

You should also save your receipts if your delay causes you to have to pay for communication like Wi-Fi for emails or if you end up having to pay for phone calls.

2. Keep records of communications

Under both EU and Canadian law, flight delays are also measured by the difference in the time you arrive at your final destination, not the delay you experience at the airport.

For example, if you experience a 2-hour delay at your departure terminal, a 1-hour delay on the tarmac, and a 30-minute delay in the air, that means your delay is actually 3.5 hours, which means you may be entitled to compensation if the delay was the airline’s fault.

Keep records of your boarding passes, communications, and any other documentation as soon as you hear there’s a delay. That way, if your 2-hour delay becomes a 4-hour delay, you’ll have all the documentation you need to make a financial claim as well.

3. Check your claim

If a delay within the airline’s control extends beyond 3 hours in Canada or beyond 5 hours in the EU, you may be entitled to cancel your flight for a full refund or make alternate travel arrangements that work for you.

With so many different laws about when and how airlines can reimburse you, it’s good to know your options right away. You can check your claim with Click2Refund and receive a response within 24 hours about whether or not you are entitled to compensation and how much.

What if my 2-hour flight delay causes me to miss a connecting flight?

It’s not uncommon for a 2-hour flight delays to make you miss a connecting flight, especially when the layover at the connecting airport is very brief.

In this case, the operating airline must provide you with an alternate flight, as well as accommodation and transportation to and from the airport if you end up having to stay overnight.

If the delay was within the airline’s control and you arrive at your final destination more than 3 hours late, you’re entitled to compensation under both Canadian and EU law. You could be entitled to up to $2,400 CAD (under Canadian law) or €600 and £520 (under EU/UK law) for the delay, so it’s important to check your claim to understand how much compensation you’re eligible for.

It’s important to note that this only applies if the connecting flight was booked on the same reservation. If you booked a separate reservation for your connecting flight, then it’s up to you to make it to the connecting flight on time.

What if the 2-hour flight delay was the result of overbooking?

Overbooking is a specific situation that’s within the airline’s control. If you were denied boarding due to overbooking, you’re entitled to compensation under Canadian law even if there was no delay.

When you’re denied boarding on a Canadian airline due to overbooking, you’re eligible for:

$900 for delays between 0 and 6 hours

$1800 for delays between 6 and 9 hours

$2400 for delays over 9 hours

That means that you’re eligible for at least $900 in compensation if your 2-hour flight delay is related to being denied boarding due to overbooking. This compensation is in addition to the alternate ticket the airline gives you, rather than something that goes toward the new ticket price.

Under EU/UK law, when you are denied boarding due to overbooking, you are eligible for

    EUR 250 for all flights of 1500 kilometers or less

    EUR 400 for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometers, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometers

    EUR 600 for all flights not falling above conditions

If passengers are offered re-routing to their destination on an alternative flight and the arrival time of which does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked

    by two hours, in respect of all flights of 1500 kilometers or less

    by three hours, in respect of all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometers and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometers

    by four hours, in respect of all flights not falling above conditions

the operating air carrier may reduce the compensation by 50%.

If you voluntarily opted to take an alternate ticket, that’s another story. As long as the delay was under 3 hours, the airline doesn’t have to compensate you.

What if the 2-hour flight delay is outside of the airline’s control?

Laws about flight delays depend on whether or not the issue is within the airline’s control or not. For example, if the delay was due to the weather, safety issues, or an air traffic control error, they may not have to provide you with compensation for delays of more than 3 hours.

However, they do still have to provide you with food, refreshments, and communication services for the length of your delay.

They also aren’t legally obligated to provide accommodation if an overnight stay was outside of their control – for example, in the event that a snowstorm makes flying out unsafe.

What if the 2-hour flight delay happens on the tarmac?

Once you’ve boarded your flight, it’s not uncommon to get stuck waiting on the plane after the doors have closed. That’s what’s known as a tarmac delay, and it’s not uncommon in Canada and other northern climates where de-icing can take hours.

When you’re waiting on the tarmac, Canadian law requires airlines to offer you:

    Food and drink in reasonable quantities, as long as it’s safe to do so

    Proper ventilation and a cabin that’s kept at a comfortable temperature, and access to washrooms while you’re waiting

    The chance to disembark if you’re on the tarmac for longer than 3 hours, unless takeoff is imminent (in other words, within 45 minutes)

    Communication with people outside the aircraft, usually in the form of Wi-Fi

In short, the airline has to keep you reasonably comfortable while you’re on the plane and can’t keep you in the plane for more than 3 hours and 45 minutes if you’re not going anywhere. It’s up to the pilot to determine what measures are safely allowable, but the airline should take all reasonable measures to comply with tarmac delay laws.

What if the 2-hour delay was caused by re-routing?

Often, airlines will re-route flights before they’re scheduled to depart. Under both EU and Canadian law, airlines have to notify passengers of changes 14 days in advance.

Under EU law, re-routing that causes a delay of more than 2 hours can be eligible for compensation if you’re given less than two weeks’ notice.

How do I know whether my flight delay is covered under Canadian or EU law?

If you’re flying out of the EU with any airline, you’re covered under EU law. You’re also covered if you’re flying into the EU on an EU-operated airline.

If you’re flying to or from Canada from any airline, you’re covered under Canadian law.

So, if you’re flying with Air France for a Paris getaway from Toronto, you’re covered under both laws. How do you decide?

Generally, it’s easier to get compensation under the EU law since the guidelines are clearer. It has been around for almost 20 years, so there has been a more substantial number of claims to back up EU case laws that protect passengers.

Canadian laws, on the other hand, have only been around since 2019 – so there are still some situations that fall into grey areas and it can be harder to get reimbursed. However, there may be some situations in which it’s better to try to claim compensation under Canadian law.

For example, if your flight was overbooked and you were denied boarding, Canadian law entitles you to more compensation.

Double-check your claim with experts to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your circumstances. You can only make one claim, so make sure it’s the one that will get you the most benefit!

Checking your claim for a 2-hour flight delay

When flight delays are 2 hours or more, you’re not entitled to financial compensation. However, you may still be able to make a claim to cover expenses you incurred during your wait if you spent money on something the airline should have offered you.

If you’ve incurred expenses for food or communication during a 2-hour delay, check your claim with Click2Refund. The airline might have to reimburse you if you spent money on food or communications that they should have provided during a delay.

Written by: Click2Refund