What compensation can you expect if your flight is delayed for seven hours?

Q&A: Travel unravelled

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The Independent Travel

Q. I was on a Monarch flight from Barcelona to Manchester that was delayed by more than seven hours. I missed a day at work. Am I entitled to any compensation? Simon Ellis-Jones, Wirral

A. Probably not. Let's start with the dismal story of your flight, ZB519, on 8 July. It was due to leave Barcelona at 8pm. But, like a number of other Monarch departures this month, it was heavily delayed. The reason: the outbound service from Manchester to Barcelona had been held up waiting for a replacement part. The essential spare was in Gatwick, so it was put into a taxi to Manchester airport. Why wasn't it carried on a BA plane instead? Monarch says: "The airline does not operate services between Manchester and Gatwick, and so is reliant on the schedules of other airlines, their willingness and availability to carry aircraft parts on Monarch's behalf, and the cost implication of carriage by air. It is often more appropriate and expedient to arrange immediate courier services by road."

The outbound flight, and your inbound flight were delayed by more than seven hours. Now, under European passenger rights legislation, every airline has a duty of care in the event of a delay of more than a few hours. That means meals, drinks and a hotel room as appropriate.

Given the eventual time of departure – just after 3am – providing hotel accommodation would have been an expensive luxury for the airline. Everyone would have had to wake by 1am at the latest to corral them back onto the plane. Much easier to keep them at the airport, where Monarch says it discharged its obligation by providing each passenger with €18 (£14) in vouchers to spend at the airport.

And compensation? The European rules on cancellation say that if it's the airline's fault, then you would have been in line for around £200. But as the flight eventually departed, it was not officially cancelled.

You might want to keep all the details: if a European Court of Justice case, claiming a three-hour-delay constitutes a cancellation, is upheld, then you may yet be able to claim retrospectively. However, Monarch tells us it has offered all 201 passengers on board a full refund as an ex-gratia gesture. While this is not quite all you might hope for, it's a reasonable compromise.