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Ways to Handle Delayed and Cancelled Flights

Now that travel borders are open again, you can finally fly off to your dream destination for a change of scenery. But imagine this: you pick a venue, book your flights, the hotel and plan out your travel itinerary – only to find out that your flight has been delayed or cancelled due to reasons beyond your control. For most of us, this can lead to chaos, stress and worry about all the added expenses and lost funds. It may seem like the start of a nightmare but fear not, there may be a way to mitigate some of this extra worry and hassle.

Under the clause of the ‘Effect of Cancellation of Contract’ as part of Singapore’s law, you’ll find that it states that, “any sum which the consumer has paid under or in contemplation of the contract to the supplier, shall be repaid to the consumer by the supplier within 60 days after the consumer has given notice of cancellation of the contract to the supplier.” 

So, rest assured that if something goes wrong, and your flight is delayed or cancelled, you may be entitled to a refund or replacement by your travel provider or the airline depending on the circumstances. This includes the length of the delay, the reason for it, and whether the airline was able to place you on another flight within a reasonable time.

All airlines do have a refund or replacement policy in effect, but these usually differ from one airline to the next. Here are some ways that you may receive some if not all compensation depending on the duration of the delay and the distance of the flight with some exceptions:

  • Travel vouchers
  • Meals/refreshments
  • Reimbursement of fare and/or a return flight

Good news is, this does not only apply to flights to and from Singapore. You are also covered by passenger protection laws when travelling from Canada, Europe, UK, US and Brazil, if there are flight issues such as delays, cancellations or time changes. 

For example, If you arrive in Europe on a flight, operated by an EU airline or if you are a passenger travelling from Europe, and denied boarding due to cancellation or long delays, you also have specific rights according to Article 14 of EC Regulation 261/2004.

Flights to or from Europe

If denied boarding due to insufficient seats in the aircraft, or if the flight is delayed, or cancelled beyond the listed reasons, then you are entitled to:

  1. €250-600 depending on the distance of your flight travel
  2. A refund of the unused portion of your ticket or a ticket of an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity
  3. Meals/refreshments
  4. Two telephone calls, telex, fax messages or emails
  5. Hotel accommodation

Range Of Compensation You Can Expect To Receive:

Source: Sky Refund

You may be denied the full compensation if:

  • you opt for an alternative flight at a later date.
  • you experience a delay on an internal EU flight. In this case your compensation cannot exceed €400, even if the flight distance is over 3500 km.
  • The flight distance is over 3500 km but the delay is between 3 to 4 hours. In this case, the compensation amount could be reduced in half (meaning you will get €200 instead of €400).

Ensure you read and understand all the clauses stated for each region and country before you travel so you’re well prepared if this happens to you.

Can I make a claim under any situation? What are Extraordinary Circumstances? 

Take note that most airlines do not offer compensation if the flight was delayed or cancelled due to ‘extraordinary circumstances'.

Basically extraordinary circumstances refers to factors beyond the airline’s control. It may include:

  • Natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions or hurricanes; and
  • Civil unrest such as Terrorism

If this is stated in your airline policy, it is likely that any claims seeking compensation will not be accepted.

What if I’m refused the compensation I’m entitled to?

You may seek assistance from claims management companies (which you may find abroad) or lawyers who specialise in air passenger rights.

If your cancelled flight is insured by your own travel insurance company, you can also claim compensation directly from them, if the situation falls under the specific policy. For instance, DirectAsia offers irrecoverable unused prepaid transport and accommodation expenses (excluding admin charges) if it falls under the specified events stated in the policy such as serious illness, serious injuries, natural disaster, unexpected outbreak of strikes/riots, unknown pandemic, insolvency of the travelling airline.

You might also want to check your travel insurance to find out what’s covered if your flight is delayed or cancelled. In this case, DirectAsia pays out $100 for every full 6 consecutive hours of delay on any public transport if the delay was due to reasons included in our list of circumstances.

Should a flight cancellation occur after policy is purchased and within 30 days pre trip period, flight cancellation will be covered. Depending on your plan purchased, DirectAsia pays up to $25,000 per person or $62,500 per family or up to your irrevocable unused pre-paid transport and accommodation expenses (excluding admin charges or fee related), whichever is lower. To ensure that you maximise your full coverage term, it is encouraged to purchase your policy at least 30 days prior to start of your trip.


How do I put in a Claim for Compensation?

The procedure to claim compensation varies across different insurance agencies, but you are typically required to produce supporting documents such as:

  • Your initial flight itinerary;
  • Your actual boarding pass; and
  • A letter from the airline stating why the flight was delayed or cancelled.
  • Reports or statement by the authorities
  • Invoices or receipts of your pre-paid transport or accommodation
  • Other documents required to be advised by the insurer

That’s why it’s important to keep all your travel documents on hand when you are travelling. You should also verify the actual procedure pertaining to the insurance policy you have purchased before booking your flight ticket. 

Here is a checklist of what you could do prior to booking and boarding flights in the future:

Steps Checklist Of Important Documents To Have Before You Travel
1 Purchase travel insurance either from the airlines or from third-party insurance providers such as DirectAsia before you book your flight
2 Be prepared and check the airline policy in advance
3 Download a soft copy of the airline policy that you can refer to anytime
4 Save all receipts and itineraries for any reservations that will help you claim compensation

Now that you are aware of the steps to take to protect yourself against unexpected flight delays and cancellation, make getting travel insurance a part of your travel plans. This way, even if your holiday has a temporary setback, you can relax knowing that you will be compensated for it.