Planes trains and boats


Now is the time of year with schools in recess that most of us shed the drudgery of the working week and Northern Ireland’s summer weather to go on an annual holiday. The rise of budget air travel and facile online vacation reconnaissance means there are now more options to get away that ever before. Unfortunately, with necessity of travel there can be also disruption. The consequences of transport delays or cancellations for someone can range from, say, the mild convenience of a delayed commuter train to the catastrophe of a cancelled connecting flight which ruins a family trip itinerary. These frustrating situations will be familiar to all. What is perhaps not so familiar to the average consumer is his/her legal rights of redress against transport operators following such a disruption. The following is a list of useful pointers to remember if you have been affected by a delay or cancellation in the air, over land or at sea:-


  • You are entitled by EU law to set compensation for a cancelled or 3-hour plus delay if your flight departed from an EU airport or arrived in EU courtesy of an EU based airline.
  • The compensation tariff ranges from £ 90 to £ 420 and depends upon the length of delay or distance of the flight when there’s been a cancellation.
  • There are certain exceptions to eligibility for compensation termed as “extraordinary circumstances” such as bad weather, industrial action or security issues. “Technical problems” with the aircraft should generally not be grounds for refusal!
  • If the affected flight doesn’t fall under EU legislation, you can check with the Civil Aviation Authority who will confirm whether a similar compensation scheme is available in the relevant country.


  • In the UK mainland and the EU each company is bound to offer customers set percentage refund for fares for delays over one hour and a full refund if the train is cancelled or you don’t travel because of a delay.
  • In some circumstances the train company will also be responsible for providing meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation.
  • Supplementary to the basic rules, most operators have their own more generous compensation schemes listed in the company’s conditions of carriage. For example, our own Translink operate the “Delay Repay” scheme in which you are entitled to be compensated after a delay of just 30 minutes.
  • Remember to retain your ticket as without it you may be unable to make a claim!


  • Since EU regulation came into effect in 2012, passengers are entitled to a full refund or rerouting your arrival is delayed by more than 90 minutes in addition to meals, refreshments and the cost of up to 3 night’s accommodation if necessary after a cancellation.
  • If you choose to travel, you are entitled to basic compensation from 25% to 50% of the ticket price depending on the length of delay.
  • Similar to criteria with the airlines, claims cannot be made for delays due to unforeseen circumstances, such as rough seas due to bad weather etc.
  • There are no specific rules relating to cruises which can cost a fortune, however, the Association of British Travel Agents indicate that valid compensation claim pay-outs are usually quite reasonable.

Last but not least, travel insurance should always be checked regardless of one’s method of travel as most policies will accept claims for delay/cancellation if you are unsuccessful by other means.

For advice or assistance on any consumer problem you may have, please contact our litigation team at MTB who will be more than happy to assist.