Claiming Compensation for Cancelled/Delayed Flights in Singapore - (2023)

On 29 June 2018, the Denpasar International Airport in Bali, Indonesia, was closed for nearly 12 hours due to the eruption of Mount Agung. 318 flights were cancelled, leaving more than 26,000 passengers stranded at the airport.

Many passengers around the globe had their holiday plans disrupted as flights that were headed to Bali from other airports, including Changi Airport, were also cancelled. This left many passengers concerned about the bookings they had already made in Bali for their holiday, such as hotel reservations and boat trips.

Amidst the chaos, a flight passenger in New Zealand waited for hours to speak to her airline’s customer service staff. When she finally got through to the service staff, she was told that accommodation would not be provided to her by the airline in spite of the flight cancellation.

As flight cancellations and delays can have several ripple effects on your trip, flight passengers should be informed of the steps to take in the event of a flight cancellation or delay in order to adequately prepare themselves beforehand.

Can You Claim Compensation and How?

Airlines typically have a procedure for passengers to claim compensation in the event of a flight cancellation or delay. The terms of the compensation differ from airline to airline and may be found in the specific airline policy of your airline.

For example, at the time of writing, the low-cost carrier Scoot compensates passengers with a $50 travel voucher only if the delay is more than 3 hours long.

If you are flying to or from the European Union or the United States, there are laws governing air passenger rights in the event of flight cancellation or delay.

1. Flights to or from European Union

Under European Union law, Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 entitles flight passengers to compensation for flight cancellation provided that:

  • The passenger was informed less than 14 days prior to the scheduled departure date; and
  • The cancellation was not caused by extraordinary circumstances (explained below).

Flight passengers are entitled to assistance (e.g. Food/Refreshments), to reimbursement and a return flight, depending on the duration of the delay and the distance of the flight.

If you have arrived at your final destination 3 hours later than the scheduled time due to a delay, you are also entitled to compensation, unless it was caused by extraordinary circumstances.

2. Flights to or from the United States

Under the US Department of Transportation Final Rule on Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections II, airlines must develop a customer service plan dealing with issues such as flight cancellations and delays.

You may check the specific customer service plan of your airline with regard to your flight to or from the United States in order to find out if you are entitled to compensation for flight cancellations or delay.

For example, at the time of writing, Singapore Airlines’ customer service plan states that they would provide meals, accommodation, assistance in rebooking and transportation in the event of a flight cancellation or delay to the best of their ability.

Again, you will not be compensated if the flight cancellation or delay was due to extraordinary circumstances.

If you are not flying to or from the European Union or the United States, issues pertaining to flight cancellation or delay will typically be governed by the airline policy as there are no laws regulating compensation for flight delay or cancellation in Singapore.

If you fulfil the criteria set out in the terms of compensation, you may begin the procedure to seek compensation directly from the airline.

What are Extraordinary Circumstances? Will My Claims be Barred?

Some airline policies will bar certain compensation claims as set out in their airline policy. Most commonly, if the claim arises from extraordinary circumstances.

Extraordinary circumstances refer to factors beyond the airline’s control. It may include:

  • Acts of god (Natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions or hurricanes); and
  • Acts of war (Terrorism)

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

Notwithstanding, compensation may still be provided subject to the airline’s goodwill. For example, Singapore Airlines passengers who were affected by the Denpasar International Airport closure due to the volcanic eruption, were given the option to change their flight ticket to any other ASEAN destination at no fee.

Alternatively, if they chose to stay in Singapore for the night while waiting for the next available flight, the airline offered the passengers rooms at the Crowne Plaza Hotel for free.

Therefore, it is advisable to speak to your airline’s customer service staff directly in the event of a flight cancellation or delay.

What Should I Do If an Airline Refuses to Compensate Me Despite Being Entitled to it?

In the event that the airline refuses to pay compensation for which you are entitled to, you may seek assistance from claims management companies (which you may find abroad) or lawyers who specialise in air passenger rights.

In the event of a flight cancellation or delay, some airlines will provide you with meal vouchers for the additional time you have to spend in the airport. At times, even accommodation may provided by the airline. This is usually the case when the delay is of a sufficiently long duration.

Can I Claim Compensation from My Travel Insurance Agency?

Alternatively, if you have purchased travel insurance, you may claim compensation directly from the insurance agency if the situation falls under the specific policy wording.

For example, some insurance policies will only compensate you if your flight has been delayed for more than a minimum number of hours. This number will vary across different policies, as set out in the specific policy wording.

While the procedure to claim compensation will vary across different insurance agencies, 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.

Therefore, it will be helpful to keep a paper trail when you are travelling. You may verify the actual procedure pertaining to the insurance policy you have purchased from the policy wording.

What Happens to My Hotel Reservations Made for the Trip?

Unfortunately, a flight cancellation or delay will adversely affect the rest of your travel itinerary. Any accommodation arrangements or hotel reservations that you have made beforehand may need to be modified or cancelled due to your late arrival.

Cancellation policies vary across different accommodation providers. Do contact your travel agent or the accommodation provider directly pertaining to their cancellation policy.

For example, Airbnb hosts will have to specify whether they have a flexible or strict cancellation policy on the itinerary.

Strict policies usually require you to pay for your reservation in full even though you will not be staying that particular night. Other more flexible policies may require you to pay a cancellation fee, while some allow you to cancel at no cost.You may be required to present your receipts for this.

It is advisable to contact your accommodation provider as soon as you receive news of your flight cancellation or delay. This is because, some accommodation cancellation policies have different conditions depending on how early you make the cancellation.

You may also wish to check any travel insurance policies that you have purchased. Policies with extended coverage may include compensation for any hotel reservations that you cancel in the event of a flight cancellation or delay.

What Happens to My Checked-in Baggage?

In the event of a flight cancellation or delay, most airlines will usually place your baggage on the flight that you are rebooked on. If your airline’s process is not automatic, then you may be required to retrieve your luggage yourself and check it in again at the check-in counter.

Do check your specific airline policy pertaining to this.

If your checked-in baggage is delayed, you may also be entitled to claim compensation for this depending on the specific airline policy.

Otherwise, it may be possible to claim compensation from your travel insurance policy, provided that your policy covers delayed baggage.

What Should You Do Prior to Booking and Boarding Flights?

You may wish to purchase your travel insurance when booking your flight tickets. Most airlines will offer an add-on insurance option that provides basic coverage in relation to your flight. Otherwise, travel insurance may also be purchased separately from third-party insurance providers.

To be aware of the steps you need to take in the event of an unexpected flight cancellation or delay, it is best to check the airline policy in advance to be better prepared during the event.

This is so even if you have flown with the airline multiple times, as different regulations may apply depending on the flight destination. It is also recommended to keep a soft copy of the airline policy that you may refer to conveniently in times of doubt.

As mentioned above, it is important to keep the receipts and itineraries pertaining to any reservations you have made in order to claim compensation.


Can I claim compensation for a delayed international flight? ›

You're legally entitled to get compensation if the cancellation is the airline's responsibility and both the following apply: the replacement flight delays your arrival by 2 or more hours. your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure.

How do I file a claim against an airline cancelled flight? ›

It's often best to email or write to the airline's consumer office at its corporate headquarters. DOT requires airlines that fly to, from, or within the United States to state on their websites how and where complaints can be submitted. There may be a form on the airline's website for this purpose.

Can you ask for compensation if your flight is Cancelled? ›

Flight cancellations can be caused by a variety of factors, such as bad weather, strikes, or technical issues with the aircraft. Passengers have certain rights if their flight is canceled, including the right to rebooking, a refund, or compensation under certain circumstances.

Who is eligible for flight delay compensation? ›

If you have been delayed for more than five hours and no longer wish to travel then you are entitled to a refund. If you are a transfer passenger and missed your connection flight because your first flight was delayed, you are also entitled to a flight back to your original departure point.

What are my rights for compensation of delayed flight? ›

If your departure is delayed by more than 5 hours, you have the right to withdraw from your flight. The airline must then refund the ticket price. If the airline staff go on strike, you may be entitled to compensation in the event of a flight cancellation or a lenthy delay.

How long do you have to claim compensation for a cancelled flight? ›

Compensation. If you received less than 14 days' notice of the cancellation, you may be able to claim compensation too. This depends on what caused the cancellation – if it wasn't the airline's fault, don't expect to receive any compensation.

How to write a complaint letter to airline for cancelled flight? ›

Dear Sir, Madam, On <date> I was scheduled to fly with <name airline> from <place of departure> to <place of arrival>. This concerned flight <enter the flight number that is on your ticket>. This flight was cancelled by your airline within 14 days of the original departure date.

How do I write a complaint letter for flight delay? ›

My flight was **delete as appropriate** delayed/cancelled and as a result I was delayed by (add number of hours) to my final destination. When a flight is delayed or cancelled, I am entitled to claim a refund or re-routing to my final destination. I am also entitled to assistance at the airport.

What is a canceled flight compensation letter? ›

A compensation letter is a written document addressed to an airline to claim any money owed to you as a result of a delayed or canceled flight. This includes meals and drinks taken while waiting at the airport, as well as a refund of flight ticket costs if you ended up not using your ticket.

How long can an airline delay a flight? ›

Since the duration of a flight delay can vary depending upon the reason for the delay, there is no time limit for how long a flight can be delayed. For example, once a flight was amazingly delayed by bees for up to four hours until a beekeeper was called to resolve the situation.

How do I claim missed flight delay compensation? ›

What should I do if I miss a connecting flight due to flight delay?
  1. Get the airline to provide you with confirmation of the cause of the delay.
  2. Collect relevant documentation, such as receipts and vouchers.
  3. Claim your basic benefits and services at the airport.
  4. Determine the amount of your claim using our calculator.

What is the 2 hour rule for flight delay compensation? ›

If a flight has a block time of two-and-a-half hours, customers are entitled to refreshments if the delay is for two hours. In case of flights that have a block time of between two-and-a-half hours and five hours, the delay has to be three hours for the passenger to be eligible for refreshments.

Is it worth complaining to an airline? ›

Air travel isn't always fun. Things go wrong. And while you're unlikely to get compensated because a summer thunderstorm made your plane late, it's often worth complaining to the airlines and seeing what you can get for your travel inconveniences.

How do I write a successful complaint letter to an airline? ›

How to write an airline complaint:
  1. Be polite, specific, and straight to the point. ...
  2. Include your frequent flyer number.
  3. “Sleep on it”. ...
  4. Never say, “I will never fly your airline again!” since that gives the airline no incentive to help.

Is airlines responsible for cancelled flights? ›

What happens when a flight is canceled? DOT rules already require airlines to offer customers a refund if their flights are canceled for any reason, but each airline's policy can vary when guests choose to rebook and what else they might be entitled to beyond a refund in the event of certain kinds of cancellations.

Can I sue for delayed flight? ›

However, if your first flight is delayed for more than 3 hours, you may be entitled to compensation from the airline that caused the delay. In addition to compensation, the airline must offer you a choice between: Reimbursement of your ticket and a return flight to your departure airport if you have a connecting flight.

How do you handle a delayed flight customer? ›

Here are some tips to help you handle a cancelled or delayed flight in a manner that's more likely to get you some satisfying results.
  1. Be Polite, But Firm. ...
  2. Check For Reimbursements. ...
  3. Agree to A New Connection. ...
  4. Call the Airline. ...
  5. Don't Take It Out On The Flight Crew. ...
  6. Have Insurance. ...
  7. Arrive Early. ...
  8. Seek Out Lounges.
Aug 30, 2015

How do you ask for compensation in an email for inconvenience? ›

Make it clear that you're looking for compensation - but don't specify exactly what you want. End the letter asking for 'a meaningful and substantial gesture of goodwill'. You don't want to underestimate the value of your claim. Leave it up to the company and you might be pleasantly surprised.

How do you write an email to an airline for a refund? ›

I have booked the flight < ticket / tickets > on < booking date > via < name travel agency >. On < date > I have indicated that I want a refund for the cancelled < flight / flights >. However, the travel agency and your < name airline > keep sending me back and forth.

What if your flight is delayed by 24 hours? ›

​Delays. According to the DGCA, if the delay is for less than 24 hours from the scheduled departure, you are entitled to meals and refreshments at the airport. If it exceeds 24 hours, you should be provided with hotel accommodations and transfers. However, the choice of hotel is up to the airline.

How much does a delay cost an airline? ›

In 2021, the average cost of aircraft block (taxi plus airborne) time for U.S. passenger airlines was $80.52 per minute. Labor expense, the largest line item, rose 14.5 percent from 2019 levels to $28.14 per minute.

Why are so many flights getting cancelled? ›

Ongoing staffing issues and aircraft shortages stemming from the pandemic have become another cause of flight delays in the U.S. This has felt particularly hard among pilots. Even though fewer flights are operating now than in 2019, some airlines are still grappling with staffing and aircraft cuts.

How many hours on an international flight delay until you get money back? ›

However, if your first flight is delayed for more than 3 hours, you may be entitled to compensation from the airline that caused the delay. In addition to compensation, the airline must offer you a choice between: Reimbursement of your ticket and a return flight to your departure airport if you have a connecting flight.

How long does flight have to be delayed for compensation Europe? ›

YES - if the flights are part of a single reservation, and you arrive at your final destination with a delay of 3 hours or more, and the delay is not due to extraordinary circumstances, you are entitled to financial compensation.

How much compensation for delayed flight Europe? ›

If your flight is delayed, you might be entitled to financial compensation. The amount of compensation is between €250 and €600 per passenger, depending on the distance of the flight. You are also entitled to free of charge refreshments and beverages in a reasonable relation to the waiting time.

What if my flight is delayed by 2 hours? ›

If your flight has been delayed for 2 hours or more, you are entitled to free-of-charge meals or refreshments, depending on the duration of your wait. If your domestic flight has kept you waiting for over 6 hours, the airline must communicate a reschedule time more than 24 hours before the original scheduled departure.

What happens if you miss a connecting flight because of a delay? ›

If you miss your connecting flight due to a delay, the airline will rebook you on the next available flight without charging any fee, as long as the connecting flight is part of the same booking. If you are on two separate bookings, you may have to pay for the rebooking or find another flight yourself.

How much can airlines compensate for overbooking? ›

Overbooked flight compensation under US regulations

If the airline does not make any substitute travel arrangements for you, you are entitled to 400% of the one-way fare price, not to exceed $1,350 as well as any optional fees paid as part of your reservation (e.g. bag fees, seat upgrades, etc.).

What is the time limit for EC 261 compensation? ›

The Civil Aviation Authority, the UK's enforcement body when it comes to Regulation EC 261/2004, established that you have up to six years after the date of your disruption to claim compensation and you are awarded the same timeframe in Ireland.

How to get money for delayed flight Europe? ›

If your flight has been delayed for more than three hours, you will need to fill out and submit an Air Passenger Rights EU Complaints Form to claim compensation. This simple form should be sent to the operating airline (presuming it was an EU airline or an airline operating a flight within an EU country).

Am I entitled to EU compensation? ›

In short, you are entitled to EU compensation in the event of a flight cancellation, delay or if you're denied boarding - unless any of these occurred due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the airline's control.

What compensation am I entitled to for a cancelled flight to and from the EU? ›

How Much Flight Compensation?
All flights under 1,500 kmUp to €250 per person
Internal EU flights over 1,500 kmUp to €400 per person
Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 - 3,500 kmUp to €400 per person
Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 kmUp to €600 per person
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What is considered a long flight delay? ›

For domestic flights, they can't keep you on the plane for more than three hours. It's a four-hour rule for international flights. That means they need to get you back to the gate in time to get off before three or four hours elapse. The airline must offer you the opportunity to deplane during a tarmac delay.

What is the maximum a flight can be delayed? ›

There is no specific time limit for how long an airline can delay a flight, as it depends on the reason for the delay.

Can I ask for food if my flight is delayed? ›

(1) If one checked-in at the airport on time and the flight is expecting to be delayed by more than 2 hours or more having a block time (Block Time is the total amount of time a flight takes from pushing back from the departure gate to arriving at the destination gate) of up to 2.5 hours, then he/she is entitled to get ...


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