How to File a Flight Delay Complaint

Submit a flight delay complaint to voice your frustration and seek compensation. Learn how to effectively address air travel grievances.

Traveling by air can sometimes be an unpredictable experience, and flight delays can be an unfortunate occurrence that passengers have to deal with. In the event that your flight is delayed, it's important to know your rights as a passenger and how to file a complaint to ensure that you are properly compensated for any inconvenience caused. This article will guide you through the process of filing a flight delay complaint, from understanding your rights to dealing with unresolved complaints.

Understanding Your Rights as a Passenger

As a passenger, it's important to be aware of your rights when it comes to flight delays. Airlines are legally obligated to provide certain protections to passengers in the event of a delay. These protections may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the specific airline policies. However, there are some common legal protections that apply to most airline passengers.

One of the key legal protections for airline passengers is the right to compensation. In many cases, if your flight is delayed for a certain amount of time, you may be entitled to compensation.

The specific criteria for eligibility and the amount of compensation may vary depending on the circumstances, so it's important to familiarize yourself with the laws and regulations in your jurisdiction.

For example, in the European Union, passengers are entitled to compensation if their flight is delayed for more than three hours and the delay is within the airline's control. Which means that extraordinary circumstances cannot be the reason of the delay since it is out of the airline's control.
The amount of compensation can range from 250 to 600 euros, depending on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight.

Key points on flight delay refunds and compensation
- Your flight needs to be delayed by at least 5 hours at departure to be eligible for a flight delay refund.
- Your flight must be delayed by at least 3 hours at arrival to be eligible for flight delay compensation.
- For a delay at departure of at least 2 hours, the airline must provide you with a meal (or meal voucher), refreshments, access to wi-fi, and 2 phone calls.
- For a significant delay at departure (5 hours or more), the airline must provide you with a hotel room and transportation between the hotel and the airport.

With our free flight delay compensation calculator, learn whether you're eligible for compensation and how much the airline may owe you, in just 2 minutes.

Another important legal protection is the right to be provided with meals and accommodation during a flight delay. If your flight is delayed overnight, for example, the airline is generally required to provide you with a hotel room and meals. Again, the specific requirements may vary depending on the circumstances, so it's important to check the airline's policies to find out which services US Airlines offers and communicate with their customer service representatives.

Airline Policies on Flight Delays

In addition to legal protections, airlines also have their own policies on flight delays. These policies may include provisions for compensation, rebooking options, and other forms of assistance. It's important to familiarize yourself with the airline's policies in order to understand your rights and options in the event of a delay.

For example, some airlines may offer vouchers or travel credits as compensation for flight delays, while others may provide the option to rebook on a different flight without any additional charges. It's also worth noting that some airlines have a specific time frame within which passengers must file a complaint or claim for compensation, so it's important to act promptly if you believe you are entitled to compensation.

Most airlines have detailed information on flight delays and passenger rights on their websites. You can usually find this information in the "terms and conditions" or "customer service" sections of the airline's website. Make sure to read these policies thoroughly and take note of any specific requirements or procedures that need to be followed when filing a complaint.

Remember, being informed about your rights as a passenger is crucial in ensuring that you receive the appropriate compensation and assistance in the event of a flight delay. By understanding the legal protections and airline policies, you can navigate through any potential delays with confidence and peace of mind.

Writing Your Flight Delay Complaint

Before filing a flight delay complaint, it's important to gather all the necessary documentation and carefully detail your experience. This will help strengthen your case and provide the airline with all the relevant information they need to process your complaint effectively.

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Gathering Necessary Documentation

When filing a flight delay complaint, it's essential to have all the relevant documentation at hand. This includes your flight tickets, boarding passes, and any other documents related to your travel. It's also helpful to keep records of any communication with the airline, such as emails or phone call logs. These documents will provide evidence of your delay and can support your claim for compensation.

Additionally, if you incurred any additional expenses as a result of the delay, such as the cost of alternative transportation or accommodation, make sure to keep records of these expenses as well. They may be eligible for reimbursement as part of your complaint.

How To Claim Compensation for a Delayed Flight

  1. Get in touch with the airline

Don't forget that you should claim compensation to the airline which operated the flight, not the company that you booked with. For instance:

  • you booked a ticket on Air France's website, but the flight was operated by Delta: your claim should be directed to Delta

  • you booked a ticket via an online travel agency (OTA) like Expedia for a flight operated by British Airways: your claim should be directed to British Airways

Some airline will have you fill in an online form instead. Others require you to contact them via postal address. The easiest way to do so is by email. Look up the email address on their website, on the "contact" or "support" page.

2. Describe What happened

Whichever option the airline offers for you to contact them, it will let you describe what happened. Your letter/form/email should include:

  • a description of what went wrong with your flight experience
  • how much money you claim for your flight disruption (more on that in this guide)
  • the appropriate quote from the EU Regulation 261/2004 (or EC 261)

Remember: it's unlikely that the person who will receive your email, letter, or form, is responsible for your trouble. Don't be rude or aggressive, it would only be counter-productive.

Essential Elements to Include

When writing your flight delay complaint, make sure to include the following essential elements:

  1. Your personal information, including your name, address, and contact details.
  2. The specific flight details, including the flight number, date, and time.
  3. A clear and concise description of the delay and its impact on your travel plans.
  4. A list of any additional expenses incurred as a result of the delay, with supporting documentation.
  5. A statement regarding your rights as a passenger and the compensation you believe you are entitled to.

Tips for Effective Communication

In addition to including the essential elements, there are some tips you can follow to ensure effective communication in your flight delay complaint:

  • Be polite and professional in your tone. While it's understandable to be frustrated by a flight delay, maintaining a respectful approach can help facilitate a positive outcome.
  • Keep your complaint concise and to the point. Avoid unnecessary details or emotional language that may distract from the main issues.
  • Use clear and specific language to describe your experience and the impact it had on your travel. This will help the airline understand the severity of the situation.
  • Attach all relevant documentation to support your claims, including copies of your tickets, boarding passes, and any communication with the airline.

Submitting Your Flight Delay Complaint

Once you have written your flight delay complaint, it's time to submit it to the appropriate channels. It's important to send your complaint to the correct department or office to ensure that it is properly processed and addressed by the airline.

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Where to Send Your Complaint

The best place to send your flight delay complaint is usually the airline's customer service department or their dedicated complaints department. This information can usually be found on the airline's website or in their terms and conditions.

Some airlines may also have an online complaint form that you can fill out. These forms often require you to provide the essential information and may allow you to attach supporting documents. Make sure to follow the instructions provided and provide all the necessary information to avoid any delays in processing your complaint.

What to Expect After Submission

After submitting your flight delay complaint, it's important to be patient and give the airline some time to review and respond to your complaint. The time it takes to receive a response may vary depending on the airline and the volume of complaints they receive.

In most cases, you can expect to receive a written response from the airline addressing your complaint. This response may include their decision on your compensation claim and any additional actions they plan to take to address the delay. If you are not satisfied with the response or if your complaint remains unresolved, there are further steps you can take to escalate the complaint and seek legal advice.

Dealing with Unresolved Complaints

If your flight delay complaint remains unresolved after submitting it to the airline, you have the option to escalate the complaint and seek legal advice. It's important to carefully consider your options and take the appropriate steps to try and achieve a satisfactory resolution.

Escalating Your Complaint

If you are not satisfied with the response from the airline or if your complaint remains unresolved, you can escalate the complaint to a higher level within the airline. This may involve contacting a supervisor or a manager who has the authority to make decisions on compensation and resolutions.

When escalating your complaint, make sure to clearly explain the reasons for your dissatisfaction and provide any additional evidence or documentation that supports your case. Be persistent in your communication and follow up regularly to ensure that your complaint is being addressed appropriately.

If all attempts to resolve your flight delay complaint directly with the airline have been unsuccessful, you may want to consider seeking legal advice. Depending on the circumstances and the applicable laws in your jurisdiction, you may have legal options to pursue compensation for your flight delay.

Airlines are subject to consumer protection laws in most countries, and legal professionals specializing in aviation law can provide guidance on your rights and the steps you can take to seek compensation. It's important to consult with a qualified attorney who has experience dealing with flight delay cases to understand your options and assess the viability of pursuing legal action.


Filing a flight delay complaint can be a complex process, but understanding your rights as a passenger and following the correct steps can greatly increase your chances of a satisfactory resolution. By gathering the necessary documentation, detailing your experience, and effectively communicating your complaint, you can navigate the process with confidence and ensure that your rights are protected. And in the event that your complaint remains unresolved, don't hesitate to escalate the complaint and seek legal advice to achieve a fair outcome.

Ready to Claim Your Compensation?

If you've experienced a flight delay and are unsure about the next steps, let ClaimCompass take the wheel. Our expertise in EU air passenger rights and our commitment to getting you the compensation you deserve—up to 600€—makes us your ideal partner in these situations. We'll handle the entire claim process for you, from submission to communication, and even court representation if necessary. There's no risk involved; use our compensation calculator to check your eligibility for free, and remember, we only get paid if you do. Submit a claim today and let us help you secure what's rightfully yours.

Can you complain about delayed flights?

Passengers can complain about delayed flights. They should contact the airline directly, providing relevant details such as flight information and incurred inconveniences.

If unsatisfied with the response, passengers can escalate the complaint to aviation authorities or consumer protection agencies.

Knowing passenger rights and effectively communicating concerns can lead to a satisfactory resolution.

How much does your flight have to be delayed to get compensation?

If you reached your arrival airport more than 3 hours past the scheduled arrival time, you might be eligible.

How Do I File a Complaint Against an Airline?

This is where a Flight Delay Compensation Calculator will come in handy. It lets you fill out your flight details and a couple of additional info in a few simple steps. In less than 3 minutes, you'll know 1) if you're entitled to compensation and 2) how much you're entitled to.

If you want to do it yourself, you'll need to write a letter (or email) to the airline explaining why you're entitled to compensation. Make sure to include a copy of your travel documents, because the airline will ask for them. It's possible, lay, likely, that the airline will deny compensation. If that's the case, be sure to quote the relevant paragraphs of EC 261 to justify why you are within your right to claim compensation.

What if my flight is delayed by 2 hours?

For a delay at departure of at least 2 hours, the airline must provide you with a meal (or meal voucher), refreshments, access to wi-fi, and 2 phone calls.

In general, for flights departing from or arriving at European Union (EU) airports on EU carriers, compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004 typically begins for delays exceeding 3 hours, with some exceptions for shorter delays in specific circumstances. However, this regulation may not apply to flights outside the EU or operated by non-EU carriers.

Outside the EU, compensation policies may vary by airline and jurisdiction. Some airlines may offer compensation or amenities for shorter delays, while others may not provide compensation unless the delay exceeds a certain duration.

You can check our complete article about it .

When am I not entitled to flight compensation?

In short, if the cause of the flight delay is beyond the airline's control, you’re not entitled to compensation. When it’s the airline’s fault, you are entitled to compensation

In cases of extraordinary circumstances like bad weather conditions, air traffic control restrictions, security risks, or technical issues that aren’t the airline’s fault, EC261 rules that the airline doesn’t have to pay.