AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Cancellations and delays outside EU regulations

Contents

EU regulations protect flights that are disrupted as long as they're flying either:

  • departing from an EU airport on any airline; or
  • arriving at an EU airport on an EU airline.
(Disruptions here include cancellations, delays, missed connections, etc.)

Your rights will be determined by the contract with the airline (called 'general conditions of carriage').

Most airlines follow the 'Recommended Practice on General Conditions of Carriage' (PDF) from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

What you can expect during a cancellation or delay

If your flight is cancelled or fails to operate, you're given a choice of a later flight on the same airline, some mutually agreed alternative transport (within a reasonable period of time), or a refund.

Delays

The Montreal Convention states that an airline is responsible for 'damage occasioned by delay' up to a limit of 4,150 'Special Drawing Rights'. (This is a measure of units based on the daily exchange rate for the currency used in the country where a claim is being paid.) The airline won't be liable, however, if it can prove that it took all reasonable steps to avoid the damage or that it was impossible to take them.

Generally, any payment that an airline is prepared to make for a delay will be, at best, reimbursement of expenses that it accepts were directly and necessarily incurred because of the delay (like meals or overnight hotel accommodation). Very few will voluntarily pay compensation in addition.

Airlines generally don't accept any liability for inconvenience, stress or any consequential losses caused by the delay, unless a court makes them do so.

Alternatively, airlines may transfer passengers to other flights to avoid delays.

Cancellations

When a flight is cancelled, an airline must provide alternative transport (not necessarily by air), or a refund.

Most airlines' conditions of carriage specifically exclude liability for any loss or damages caused by the cancellation, such as inconvenience or stress, unless a court makes them do so.

For information on flights that fall within EU law, see Cancellations: rights under EU regulations and Delays: rights under EU regulations.