The Consumer Lawyer

Heathrow flight cancellations – your compensation rights

Flights cancelled and delayed on airport departure board due to covid-19 pandemic. Coronavirus causing disruption in air transport with airlines cancelling service. Travel and vacation cancellation

London’s Heathrow Airport has limited the maximum number of daily departing passengers that airlines, airport ground handlers, and the airport can collectively serve over the summer period, to no more than 100,000, which is roughly half of its usual amount.
Heathrow says the decision will remain in effect from July 12 to September 11.

The effect of the decision taken by Heathrow is that thousands of flights are having to be cancelled and, as a result, passengers are asking me if they will be entitled to compensation. Here’s what you need to know:

Refund or re-routing

If your flight is cancelled, the airline must try to re-route you on an alternative flight, even if it is with another carrier. If this is not possible, or if you do not want an alternative flight, you will be entitled to a full cash refund. The airline may try to offer you a voucher or credit but you do not have to accept this and my advice is not to.


When a flight is cancelled with less than 14 days’ notice prior to departure, you will be entitled to compensation, unless the reason for the cancellation falls within the definition of ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

Extraordinary circumstances is an event that: i) is outside of the airline’s control (like severe bad weather and security alerts); ii) is not inherent in the normal operation of the airline (by way of example, mechanical faults do not fall within the definition); and iii) could not have been avoided by the airline taking reasonable steps.

Where a flight is cancelled due to airport closure or limitations, this is clearly outside of the airline’s control, is not inherent in the normal operation of the aircraft, and there are no steps the airline could have taken to prevent the airline’s actions.

So, if your flight is cancelled due to Heathrow’s limits, you will not be entitled to compensation. However, you should ask for evidence to substantiate this was the real reason for the cancellation.

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