• Research amongst travellers who have experienced flight delays of more than three hours in the last six years reveals just 30% have made a claim for compensation. Despite the option to claim being in place for a decade - one in three were unaware they could1.

  • Of those that claimed, 73% went directly to the airline but 27% claimed via a claims management or legal company, losing up to a third of any compensation paid out. For a family of four this could cost up to 5522.

  • 71% of those that went directly to the airline were successful. Almost two thirds (64%) of these received payment from the airline, but 7% had to escalate their claim to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to secure compensation.

  • 29% had their claim declined by the airline; one in ten of these didn't know how to escalate their case; and 6% simply 'couldn't be bothered'. The CAA received 8,966 complaints in the last 12 months, 87% of these were successful.

  • With consumers believing they will receive an average 176 in compensation this could be why more aren't claiming. This is a fraction of the real amount which is up to 4602.

With the peak summer holiday season just around the corner, industry analysis from comparison website money.co.uk reveals almost 500,0003 travellers are likely to experience flight delays of more than three hours during the summer months. Under EU regulation, many of these travellers will be entitled to claim compensation from the airline they travel with.

Further research1 from money.co.uk reveals that out of 1,000 travellers who have experienced delays of three hours or more over the past six years, 70% are unlikely to make a claim. These travellers could together be waving goodbye to as much as 112 million in compensation4 or up to 460 each.

One decade on and consumers don't know they can claim

Much of this is due to lack of awareness as one third of those surveyed didn't know you could claim compensation, despite the ruling being in place for a decade. One in three think they'll get a maximum of 150, which could be why one in four said they couldn't be bothered.

With consumers believing they will receive an average of 176 in compensation this could be why more aren't claiming.

Claiming for delays from 2010 onwards

Half of those surveyed are completely unaware that under EC regulation 261/2004 you can make a claim for at fault flight delays of three hours or more up to six years after they take place. Just 30% of those surveyed have made a claim leaving 70% potentially eligible.

Three out of four made a successful claim directly with the airline

Almost three quarters (73%) of those that claimed compensation for delays went directly to the airline - almost two thirds received payment. Of those that were declined payment by the airline, a further 7% had to escalate their case to the CAA in order to receive compensation. One in ten people who were turned down did not know how to escalate their case to the CAA so didn't get a penny.

CAA Flight Delay Complaints Facts

  • The CAA received 8966 complaints about delay compensation between April 2015 and March 2016

  • Almost nine out of ten (87%) were successful securing applicants a share of ?5.7 million (4.5 million)

  • Since the European Commission Regulation 261/2004 ruling came into force, the CAA has secured more than 16million (12.6 million) in compensation for consumers

  • The CAA has received, but not necessarily assessed, 56,769 flight delay complaints since March 2013

More than one in four use claims management firms

More than one in four (27%) of those that made a claim for compensation following a flight delay of over three hours used a claims management or legal firm, parting with 23% of their compensation on average.

Industry analysis shows that some firms are taking as much as 30%, which could equate to 5522 for a family of four. If claimants use a third party, they could together wave goodbye to almost 11 million 5 during the summer alone.

Why people use claims management firms

Reasons cited for using these firms were: the claim was quite complex and they were advised to get legal help (30%); they had nothing to lose if the firm did all the work for them (29%); and one in four thought they'd have a better chance of success.

Hannah Maundrell, Editor in Chief of money.co.uk, comments:

"Airlines make it really easy to lodge a claim and you don't even have call them - most allow you to do it online. As the process is generally so simple there's no point paying a middle man; lodge the claim yourself and you should get to keep every penny.

"This isn't about chasing compensation for minor inconveniences. If your travel plans have seriously been affected and the airline was at fault, you can and should ask for the compensation you're entitled to. If the airline wasn't to blame then look to your travel insurance instead."

  • Under EC regulation 261/2004, passengers who travel to an airport within the EU could be able to claim compensation if they experience delays of three hours or more and the airline is at fault

  • This applies to delays on all flights departing from an EU airport irrespective of the airline or destination. It also applies to delayed flights on a EU airline that land at a EU airport.

  • The length of the delay is measured from the time you were expected to land - not departure time.

  • You will only be eligible for compensation if the cause of the delay is 'within your airlines control'. Bad weather, strikes or unforeseeable technical issues won't generally be included.

  • The amount of compensation you receive will be based on the distance you were due to fly and the length of the delay.

  • If you are delayed by more than two hours you have the right to food and drink vouchers, access to phone calls, emails and accommodation. You can still claim compensation on top of this if the flight delay exceeds three hours and the airline is at fault.

  • For flight cancellations less than 14 days before you are due to fly, you may be entitled to compensation.

  • If the airline rejects your claim or you do not get a response within eight weeks, you can escalate it to the CAA. If your flight originated outside the EU, you can contact the national enforcement body in that country to escalate your claim.

  • Some airlines are signed up to independent resolution bodies which you may need to contact instead of the CAA. Check the Airline Dispute Resolution, a division of the Retail Ombudsman, or the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) to find out if your airline is signed up.

  • For more information see money.co.uk's guide.

Notes to Editors:
1. Research was carried out on behalf of money.co.uk by OnePoll from the 27th May to 3rd June 2016 amongst 1,000 UK adults that have experienced a delay of three hours or more when flying overseas in the last six years.
2. Compensation payments for flight delays could be up to 460 (600 euros) - EUR-lex, Access to European Union Law
* Claims management and legal firms charge up to 30%
* 30% of 460 = 138
* For a family of four, this is a total of 552
3. Of 533,290 flights monitored by CAA during June, July and August 2015 0.46% were delayed more than 3 hours which equates to 2,453 flights. Using the A320, Boeing 737 and Boeing 777 as a benchmark the average number of passengers per jet is approx 200. 2,453 flights x 200 passengers = 490,600 passengers
4. Typical compensation calculated by finding average of 250, 400 or 600 euros = 417 euros.
* Exchange rate 1.28 as at 9/6/2016 417 euros = 326
* 70% of people don't claim. 70% of delayed flyers (490,600) = 343,420
* 326 x 343,420 = 111,954,920
5. On average consumers pay a fee of 23.07% to claims management firms. 23.07% of 326 = 75
* CAA figures from 2015 state that 490,600 were delayed during the months of June, July and August 2015
* Based on our research 30% of people who have been delayed have claimed compensation
* 30% of 490,600 = 147,180
* 147,180 x 75 = 11,038,500 could be potentially lost to claims management firms