Revealed: the slowest airlines to deal with flight delay claims

Flight delay agony

TAP Air Portugal is the slowest airline to agree to settle delayed or cancelled flight compensation claims, according to research compiled for Moneywise.

The airline takes nearly an entire year (360 days), on average, to agree to settle claims.  

It’s followed by Vueling Airlines at 343 days and Vietnam airlines at 298 days.


The findings, which come from data extracted from 120,000 claims made by solicitors firm Bott & Co between 20 February 2013 and 28 July 2016, also reveal that Iberia is the slowest airline when it comes to paying out successful claims – taking 50 days on average between the claim being settled and paying out.

It’s closely followed by Air Canada, which takes 48 days on average, and American Airlines, which takes an average of 42 days. 

See the tables below for a full round-up of the top 10 slowest airlines to agree to settle claims, and to pay out successful claims.

10 slowest airlines to pay out successful claims

Airline Average payment time in days (i)
Iberia 50
Air Canada 48
American Airlines 42
Ryanair 40
TAP Air Portugal 38
Delta Air Lines 33
US Airways 27
Thomas Cook 23
Monarch 18
Condor (ii) 17

Notes: Only airlines with at least 50 claims settled taken into account. (i) Based on the time between the claim being settled and the airline paying out. (ii) Part of the Thomas Cook Group.


10 slowest airlines to agree to settle claims

Airline Average payment time in days (i)
TAP Air Portugal 360
Vueling Airlines 343
Vietnam Airlines 298
Swiss Air 284
US Airways 275
Ryanair 274
Lufthansa 268
Malaysia Airlines 260
Iberia 259
Air France 244

Notes: Only airlines with at least 50 claims settled taken into account. (i) Based on the time between the first claim letter being sent to receiving confirmation of settlement.

Source: Bott & Co Solicitors data extracted from 120,000 claims made between 20 February 2013 and 28 July 2016.

What are the flight delay/cancellation reclaiming rules?

Under EU rules, if your flight has been delayed or cancelled, you may be able to claim compensation of up to €600 per person as long as you meet a certain number of criteria – including the delay or cancellation being the airline’s fault.

But don’t let airlines put you off reclaiming what’s rightfully yours; you never had the money to start with so it’s not as if you’re out of pocket.

You can claim this compensation yourself for free using online template letters available on the CAA’s website, or you can use free complaints tool

Only use a claims company or solicitors firm if you don’t have the time or capacity to claim yourself – they’ll take about 25% of any compensation due.  


What do the airlines say?

A spokesperson for Iberia says that until recently the airline sent cheques for successful claims by post.

However, it says it started changing its payment system six months ago to begin directly transferring money to customers’ bank accounts instead, which it says is much faster.

TAP Air Portugal didn’t respond to Moneywise’s request for a comment.

We were also keen to provide data on the top 10 airlines that are best to deal with gripes, but unfortunately this wasn’t something Bott & Co could provide.

It says: “Providing information regarding the best airlines is a little more tricky; a lot of settlements with airlines are “without prejudice”, which means that the airlines don’t admit they are responsible for compensation, but simply pay it to avoid the threat of court proceedings. One of the conditions of these settlements is frequently that the terms of agreement – including speed of payment – are often confidential.”

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Your Comments

I note that BlueAir of Romania are missing from this list. I suspect this is due to the fact that BlueAir ignore all attempts to claim compensation and that they they feel relatively safe domiciled in Romania.
Certainly Bott & Co Solicitors won't touch a claim submitted to them for a delayed/cancelled BlueAir flight. Therefore, their statistics stated in the article are not actually conclusive.

Hi xSteven,

I've checked this with Bott & Co and it says it's only ever had 16 claims about BlueAir, which is why it isn't included in the data - we've only included airlines that have had at least 50 claims. 

However, if you've been told by Bott & Co that it can't look into your complaint, please do email your story to and we'll ask Bott & Co to find out what went wrong in your case. 

Best wishes,