For those booking flights to India for awing breaks, nothing could be more baffling than the flight getting delayed or cancelled because of major disruption. However, if you know what you’re entitled to if things go awry, you can avoid getting stranded.

Having made efforts to book those cheap flight tickets to some exotic location, but still not able to embark on one’s holiday because of flight delays or cancellations could be heartbreaking! Indeed, major flight disruptions are the biggest nightmare for any passenger!

Hence it is important for travellers, especially for those embarking on long- haul flights such as flights to India from UK’s Heathrow Airport, to be heedful of their passenger rights to avoid getting marooned at the airports.

Taking flights to India as the point of reference, let’s delve into some useful information on passenger rights in case of flight cancellations or delays.

Passenger rights – Flight Cancellations

Flight cancellations often leave the flyers flummoxed! This becomes even more bewildering for those who spend long and valuable time to net those cheap flights to India! In case of cancellations, travellers are entitled to the various compensations offered by the airlines.

 However, airlines are not bound to refund if the passenger is informed of the cancellation at least 14 days in advance or if the passenger agrees to get rerouted close to the original departure time.

If the flights are cancelled, airlines usually offer the following choices to the passengers!

  • Full reimbursement of the ticket within seven days.
  • Re-routing to the final destination under similar conditions.
  • If necessary, assistance with communications, refreshments, accommodation and transportation.
For situations where flight cancellations are generally out of the airline’s control – in situations such as terrorism, bad weather or strikes (Force Majeure Clause), airlines are not liable to compensate the passengers.

Passenger Rights – Flight Delays

Flight delays can make flying experience for those who meticulously book lucrative deals on those cheap flights to India less fun. Passengers can seek assistance from the airline if the delay is two hours or more for flights of 1,500km or less, three hours or more for longer flights within the EU or for other flights of between 1,500 and 3,500km or four hours or more for long-haul flights of over 3,500km like flights to India from London.

For flights delays of more than five hours, passengers can choose not to travel and instead can claim a refund from the airline. Airlines generally offer an alternative flight option to the passengers in most cases. However, in situations which are unacceptable, passengers can seek full fare reimbursement.

For delays of three hours or more in reaching the final destination, travellers are entitled to get the compensation, unless the airline can prove that the delay was caused by some extraordinary circumstances.

Passengers Rights – Care and Help


If there is a long flight delay or cancellations, airlines are obligated to offer free meals, two free phone calls, telex or fax messages, and/or emails.

In situations where an overnight delay is involved, passengers are entitled to get free accommodation and hotel transfer by the airlines, except for the delay caused by extraordinary circumstances. For flight delays of five hours or longer, passengers may claim reimbursement of the ticket along with, if applicable, a return flight to the original point of departure.

In case if the airline remains reluctant to provide refreshments, vouchers or accommodation, passengers may pay for the expenses then and claim the money back from the airline upon arrival. However, one should remain mindful of holding on to the receipts to claim the expenses back from the airline. Also, it is smart to know that airlines do not pay for alcohol or expensive meals.

These rules and regulations apply to all airlines operating from European airports, and all flights to European airports, from outside of the EU, on an EU airline.

These rules and regulation apply to all worldwide carriers with departure from within the EU and, in the case of flights departing from outside the EU to an airport within the EU, only to airlines licensed in a Member State of the EU.

Disabled Passengers

Airlines are responsible to take care of disabled passengers and unaccompanied minors as a priority. However, one needs to inform the airline, preferably at the time of booking, to avail such facilities.

Package Holidays

Those holidaymakers who book all-inclusive package holiday deals for leisurely breaks to India should contact the tour operators to rearrange their flights in case of major disruptions. If the tour operators fail to rearrange the holidays, passengers may claim a refund of the full package price from the tour operator.

After The Disruption

Passengers must make a note of the flight number and flight time and save the expenditure receipts to claim back the expenses and get the complaints resolved. Also, one should find out the reason for cancellation from the airline to claim the insurance, if required.

Force Majeure Clause

At times of major disruption such as strikes, severe weather, volcanic ash affecting airspace or terrorism, passengers are unlikely to get automatic compensation if the flight is cancelled or delayed. However, the airlines are still liable to offer services, assistance and care until the alternative flight departs.

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