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Cancelled flights and lost luggage drove almost 700,000 views of Citizens Advice guidance in last year

4 July 2019

In the last twelve months, problematic flights were the number one issue bringing people to the consumer pages of the Citizens Advice website.

Online advice about flight delays and cancellations was viewed almost 600,000 times in the last year, while advice on delayed or lost luggage had over 110,000 views.

With airline staff strikes plaguing would-be holiday-makers last summer, and thunderstorms grounding flights in July, over a third of these views were made between June and August 2018.

With many now packing up to go on their summer holidays, Citizens Advice is offering travellers top tips to help their holidays run more smoothly.


One person who came to Citizens Advice consumer service was stranded in Spain after being delayed over 18 hours due to their plane having a punctured tyre. When their plane finally managed to take off, it ended up landing over 60 miles away from its intended destination of Manchester.

If you’re travelling either to or from an EU airport or with an EU airline, under EU rules you might be entitled to compensation if you’re delayed. You can check to see if your flight is covered by EU rules on the Civil Aviation Authority’s website.

Citizens Advice top tips:

  • Airlines should provide you with assistance depending on how long your flight is delayed, where you were flying to, and how long the journey is.

  • It’s best to contact the airline or the Civil Aviation Authority right away to see what you’re entitled to. 

  • Unless the delay was due to exceptional circumstances, you could be entitled to up to €600 in compensation depending on the length of the flight and delay. 


One woman came to the Citizens Advice consumer service after her flight to Amsterdam was cancelled due to technical issues with the plane. The airline wasn’t able to put her on a flight for another two days - the day she was supposed to be returning home from her holiday.

Fortunately, if your flight gets cancelled you have the legal right to either a full refund paid within seven days, a replacement flight to get you to your destination, from another airline if necessary, or an alternative flight at a convenient time.

Citizens Advice top tips:

  • Depending on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight, the airline may have to help you with food and drink and access to phone calls and emails. It may also have to provide accommodation if you’re delayed overnight. You can check what your eligibility is on the Citizens Advice website.

  • If you choose to get an alternate flight, you may be entitled to compensation in the event of a cancellation if either the replacement flight delays your arrival by more than two hours, or your flight was cancelled less than two weeks beforehand. 


Industrial action can wreak havoc on your holiday plans, so it’s important to know what your rights are. In the event that staff from the airline you’re travelling with are on strike and you’re either delayed or your flight has been cancelled as a result, your rights are the same as with other cancellations or delays.

Airline employee strikes are not deemed to be extraordinary circumstances, which means that depending on the length of your wait you may be entitled to compensation. The Citizens Advice website can help you calculate how much, if any, you’re likely to be owed.


Advice on delayed or lost luggage has had over 110,000 page views on the Citizens Advice website in the last year.

One woman turned to the charity for help after her suitcase was damaged beyond repair on a short haul flight, while another was told her luggage was lost only for it to turn up with items missing.

If your luggage is delayed, lost or damaged and the airline is at fault, you have the legal right to claim compensation from the airline.

Citizens Advice top tips:

  • Act quickly and check deadlines. You may have to claim within seven days of your flight. 

  • You can claim money from the airline that would cover the bare essentials you need while you’re away, like toiletries, or for part of the cost of replacing or repairing your goods.

  • If you have travel insurance or home contents insurance that covers luggage, you might be better off making an insurance claim instead. You may get more money and find it easier to claim this way, depending on your excess.

Airline goes under

Two different clients came to Citizens Advice last April when they were stranded in India and unable to return home after their airline went under. 

In the unfortunate case that your airline goes out of business you may be able to get some money back. But the method you booked by - direct or third party, credit card or debit card, or booking as part of a package holiday - can all affect your compensation, and your travel insurance.

Citizens Advice top tips:

  • If your flight is ATOL protected it means that you are guaranteed a refund if a company collapses. If you’ve booked flights through a travel agent the ATOL scheme should apply. 

  • If your flights aren’t ATOL protected you could try claiming against your credit card company under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. To be eligible, you need to have paid more than £100 for the flight, and to have paid some of this amount with your credit card. For more information see the Citizens Advice website.

  • Airline insolvency can sometimes be included on travel insurance policies, so it’s worth contacting your provider to check to see if your policy covers ‘scheduled airline failure’.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Last year, there were almost 700,000 views of our flight advice online. From delayed or cancelled flights to lost luggage, these situations are frustrating and sometimes costly for consumers. 

“By making sure you book ATOL-protected flights, have comprehensive travel insurance, and know your rights ahead of time, you can help make your holiday as relaxing as it should be.”

You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.

Notes to editors

  1. Citizens Advice includes the national charity; the network of independent local Citizens Advice charities across England and Wales; the Citizens Advice consumer service; and the Witness Service.
  2. Citizens Advice is the statutory consumer advocate for energy and post. We provide supplier performance information to consumers and policy analysis to decision makers.
  3. The Citizens Advice Witness Service provides free, independent support for prosecution and defence witnesses in every criminal court in England and Wales.
  4. Citizens Advice offers Pension Wise services at 500 locations in England and Wales.
  5. Citizens Advice’s services are free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to all regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  6. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice, visit
  7. For consumer advice, call the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 to talk in Welsh.
  8. We helped 2.6 million people face to face, by phone, email and webchat in 2017-18. For service statistics see our monthly publication Advice trends.
  9. Citizens Advice staff are supported by over 23,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 locations in England and Wales.