Life & Culture

Money maven: We want a break but not a delayed flight

Our personal finance expert is here to answer all your questions on anything related to money matters


Young Female traveller napping as she waits forever at the airport terminal, wearing a protective mask. She is travelling during covid-19 times.

Question: We are just about to book our summer holiday in Israel, but are concerned our flights will be delayed or cancelled as has happened over the half term week. What can be do to protect ourselves against this?

Answer: Unfortunately there is nothing you can do to protect against flight delays or cancellations except holidaying in the UK, driving or taking a train to your overseas destination. However there are ways of minimising the financial disruption a delay or cancellation may cause.

Firstly book part of your holiday using a credit card. This gives you cover under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, which makes the card issuer jointly liable with the holiday company if things go wrong and the holiday cost £100.01-£30,000. You can get the almost the same protection under the chargeback rules using a debit or credit card, for any holiday cost (MasterCard has a minimum of £10) but these are voluntary rules, not a legal obligation on the card issuer.

Book with an ABTA member, be it a travel agent or tour operator. Under the ABTA rules if your flight is cancelled, your travel company will either need to re-arrange your flight for you or offer a refund for your whole package.

They must also offer you a replacement holiday, if available, or a refund if your holiday is significantly altered by a change in the situation at your destination. For example if a new wave of COVID-19 hits or there is a terror attack.

If disaster does strike and your flight is cancelled or delayed, then there are UK laws governing refunds and compensation, but the flight has to either be on a UK or EU airline or departing from the UK or Europe. So you are covered by any airline to fly to Israel from the UK, but only a UK/EU carrier on the way back.

You are entitled to food and drink after a certain length of time from 2-4 hours depending on the flight length and hotel accommodation where appropriate. If the flight is delayed from more than five hours you can ask for a full refund, which includes any unused parts of the booking such as return flights.

If you have to buy any food or hotel accommodation yourself, keep all receipts so you can claim back these costs later. But keep them reasonable or you may have a battle on your hands to justify the amounts.

You can also ask for compensation if your flight arrived more than three hours late to its destination. Crucially however, the delay has to be the airlines fault, ie they cancelled or delayed the flight, rather than external factors such as traffic control strikes or adverse weather conditions. If eligible, you could get between 250-600 Euros per person for a flight delayed by more than three hours. You don’t have to accept vouchers either as you’re entitled to a cash refund.

Hopefully however all the problems will be sorted out by the time you go away and you will have a delay-free relaxing holiday.

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