error_outline IMPORTANT error_outline

Have you ever experienced a lengthy flight delay or cancellation? It can put a dampener on your trip and is another thing to stress about.

Although flight disruptions are not uncommon, it is important to understand your rights as a passenger so you’re equipped to deal with this unfortunate situation.

Check out our guide to your passenger rights in Australia and other popular international destinations, too!

You may be surprised to learn when you are and are not entitled to compensation.

Skip ahead to read:

Get a free online quote for your travel insurance today!


See Cover-More's travel delay benefit to find out how you can be protected.

It is important to remain calm when your flight is cancelled or delayed. Experts suggest asking the ticket agent to sign your ticket over to another carrier to complete your journey.

Although airline’s contract of carriage does not guarantee you being transported to your destination on time, Australian Consumer Law states that the supplier must supply their service to the consumer “within a reasonable time”.

With each airline having its own policy on delayed and cancelled flights, most airlines will offer to rebook you on their own airline or subsidiary.

In Australia, there are no clear-cut guidelines when it comes to flight delays and cancellations as it varies for every airline.

Airlines are not obligated to compensate passengers whose flights are deferred or cancelled in Australia, and will not necessarily take responsibility if you fail to book a connecting flight.

However, they are required by law to assist you in rescheduling your flight if you are bumped from an oversold flight. Each airline has specific policies in place to manage delayed or cancelled flights.

Most passengers are not entitled to receive compensation if a holdup occurs due to extraordinary circumstances that could not be avoided.

Examples include extreme weather conditions, political instability, risks, security and unexpected flight safety shortcomings.

Compensation if your flight is delayed in Australia

You may be entitled to meal or hotel vouchers by some airlines if your flight is delayed due to extenuating circumstances.

Compensation if your flight is cancelled in Australia

Most airlines will either rebook you on their next available flight to your destination at no additional charge or provide you a credit for future travels.

Ensure you read your airline’s full terms and conditions in regards to your passenger rights for delayed and cancelled flights.


Flying across different time zones? See our tips for avoiding jet lag

If you are travelling from any airport situated in the European Union (EU) or flying into an EU airport with an EU-based airline (or one from Iceland, Norway or Switzerland), you are eligible for compensation depending on the number of delayed hours and distance of the flight.

The table below illustrates a detailed guideline to your rights and compensations.

If flight arrives three hours or more after schedule, is cancelled or overbooked
Within the EU
Up to 1,500km€250
More than 1,500km€400
Between EU airport and non-EU airport
Up to 1,500km€250
1,500 to 3,500km€400
More than 3,500km€600

Source: Choice

If your flight’s departure time is delayed and depending on the delay length, you are entitled to:

  • meals and refreshments
  • hotel accommodation if necessary, including transfer costs
  • two telephone calls, fax messages or emails

You can find out further information about the scheme here.

It is important to note that passengers are not entitled to compensation if the flight is cancelled due to unexpected circumstances, but may still receive a refund - which doesn’t occur in Australia.

Similar to Australia, the United States will not offer compensation for any losses that occur from a passenger’s flight being delayed.

However, if you are involuntarily bumped from your flight, passengers can be compensated with a set amount from airlines, including international flights leaving the USA. See the below table for more.

Being involuntarily “bumped” from your flight in the USA
If substitute flight arrives at the destinationCompensation amount
Within one hour of your scheduled arrival timeNo compensation available
• one and two hours (domestic)    
• one and four hours (international)    
of your scheduled arrival time.
Two times the value of your one-way fare, maxed at USD $675
More than:    
• two hours (domestic)    
• four hours (international)    
later than your scheduled arrival time.
Four times the value of your one-way fare, up to USD $1,350

Source: Choice

New Zealand is another country that has a compensation scheme in place to help passengers with delayed or cancelled domestic flights.

If your domestic flight within New Zealand is cancelled or delayed because of internal issues, including mechanical faults or airline staffing problems, you are entitled to compensation from the airline.

This also applies if you’re bumped off your flight due to overbooking.

Compensation from the airline in New Zealand may cover meals, transfers, missed events and missed flight connections. You can claim up to 10 times the cost of your ticket with the airline, or the cost of the delay (whichever is the lower amount).

As an affected passenger, you will be able to claim compensation directly from the airline for your delayed domestic flight. If you experience any issues, you can contact New Zealand’s Disputes Tribunal.

Keep in mind that if factors outside of the airline’s control, such as instructions from air traffic control or bad weather events, cause flight disruptions then you will not get compensation.


Heading off on an adventure soon? Make sure you check out our ultimate holiday preparation checklist before you go.

As a popular holiday destination for Australians, it’s good to know what your passenger rights are when flying through Indonesia.

Indonesia does have a scheme that offers passengers compensation, if your domestic flight is delayed for more than four hours, unless it’s because of bad weather or technical reasons. If you are affected, you’re entitled to Rp300,000 compensation.

When it comes to being denied boarding due to overbooking or being bumped off your flight, the airline must arrange comparable air transportation for you to arrive at your destination at a similar time and at no extra charge.

If they can’t arrange this, the airline is required to provide you with refreshments, meals, transfers and accommodation.

Under Australian fair trading laws, you have the right to make a complaint to the airline if it fails to deliver an adequate service.

In the event of a dispute with an airline, you should attain the following documents:

  • tickets;
  • flight itinerary;
  • boarding passes;
  • receipts of any costs incurred; and
  • any communications with the airline.

To find about more, visit the ACCC website here

woman at airport looking at flight schedule

Want more travel tips and tricks? Head over to our epic travel blog for the latest!

#1. Pick flights with morning routes

Take advantage of choosing an early morning flight to avoid being caught in the “ripple” effect of airline delays.

Even the smallest delays throughout the day can potentially grow and eventually cancel entire flights.

If you book morning flights, you have a better chance of squeezing onto another flight later in the day if your initial one is cancelled or delayed - especially if they are popular routes.

#2. Be careful booking discounted flight fares

Choosing a heavily discounted fare from budget airlines can come with restrictions on cancelling or changing a booking.

With less flexibility than full fares, some bookings can be non-refundable and may attract cancellation fees and surcharges.

Check your airline’s fees and surcharges policy for specific information about the fare rules on your itinerary.

#3. Pack the essentials in your carry-on

Make sure you have packed the essentials in your carry-on bag rather than in your checked-in luggage, as you won’t have access your suitcase once it leaves the check-in desk.

Pack any essential medication you need in your carry-on bag, so you can access it in case of long delays or if your checked luggage is lost or delayed once you arrive at your destination.

Bring toiletries so you can freshen up during long delays, and keep a mobile phone charger on hand (plus, any other power cables for devices you plan to use!). The last thing you want is to have your phone run out of battery while you’re waiting around the airport.

It can also be worthwhile to have a change of clothes and a jumper with you, as you may be waiting a while depending on the length of your flight delay.  

Check out our other helpful tips for surviving a flight cancellation here!

#4. Plan ahead as much as possible

If you are preparing for a flight and concerned about delays, make sure to keep an eye on the weather forecast.

Weather can be unpredictable, and severe weather can occur at any time.

If an extreme weather warning has occurred, always call the airline to check for any updates. Knowing in advance can help you prepare alternative travel plans.

Another way to make your travel journey less stressful is to have alternative flights chosen beforehand. If you flight is cancelled, having your alternative flight information on hand will let the airline know a potential solution to your issue.

#5. Request an insurance letter from your airline

If your flight has been cancelled, you will need the airline to confirm it in writing. Contact your airline and ask for a travel insurance letter.

You will be required to provide the reason why your flight was cancelled and the details of your new flight, if you wish to make a travel insurance claim for out-of-pocket expenses.

This letter allows travel insurance companies to check if the reasons for the delay are covered under your chosen policy when considering a claim.


Consider protecting your trip with travel insurance. Get a free quote from Cover-More.

To find out more about Cover-More's travel insurance benefits, visit:


Please note: every effort was made to ensure the information provided in this blog was accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change.