My girlfriend missed her flight. What are her legal rights to a refund?

Published by Andrew Hagger on 15 January 2019.
Last updated on 15 January 2019

Q

My girlfriend went abroad recently and missed her flight because the train she was on was delayed owing to a signal failure and so she was very late getting to the airport.

She had to buy a new flight and travel to another airport to board it, in order to ensure she could still leave on the same day for her European destination. She had not bought travel insurance.

What can she do about getting some or all her money back? She is still abroad but will be returning in a few weeks and I’ve been tasked with getting her money back. Before I start contacting the airline and train company, I wonder if you could tell me firstly her rights (if any) and then her options?

Should my outgoing correspondence be pleading in nature, or can I make demands and threaten further action in the event of an unsatisfactory response?

From:
CM/London

A

If you miss a flight due to circumstances beyond the airline’s control, then there is no requirement for the carrier to assist or refund you. As such it has no legal duty to put you on the next available flight or offer any other form of assistance.

The train company is contracted to ensure that you reach your destination. Also, under the rules of Delay Repay, it may pay the ticket holder compensation if they are more than 30 minutes late to their destination station. However, it isn’t responsible for any knock-on impact of the delay – that is, in this situation, your girlfriend’s missed flight departure.

Unfortunately, your girlfriend chose not to buy travel insurance. As you can now see, this can prove a false economy as the majority of policies will include cover for missed departure. Plus, most insurers will pay out if you have missed your flight because of a problem with public transport.

Most insurers will pay out if you have missed your flight

The amount you can claim will depend on the insurer and policy type, although typically you can claim between £250 and £1,250 – it’s always worth checking the small print at the time to ensure the claim limit is sufficient for your travel circumstances. With travel insurance premiums starting from under £10 it really doesn’t make sense to travel without a policy.

In this instance it would appear that the only compensation your girlfriend will be entitled to is a refund on her train fare, presuming she was more than 30 minutes late to arrive at the airport train station. The train company will provide details on the amount she can claim together with a Delay Repay claim form on its website.

This article was written in response to a reader’s question. If you have a financial or work/career question that has left you scratching your head ask our panel of experts who will aim to shine some light on the matter.

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