Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: Can I claim compensation for delayed flights?

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Q My wife and I were on a flight from Manchester to Madeira in May 2006. It was delayed for several hours. The return flight was delayed even longer – instead of returning in the early evening, we got back early the next day. Can I claim compensation?

Barrie Wilkinson, Lincolnshire

A Probably not. The European Court of Justice recently decided that a flight delay of three hours or more amounts to a cancellation, and that if the airline was to blame then passengers could claim compensation – anything between €250 and €600. Most retrospective claims are allowed, but for flights from UK airports there is a cut-off of six years – so any departure before 8 February 2007 would not qualify. It is theoretically possible that the return flight, from Madeira, may qualify, as it falls within the jurisdiction of the Portuguese aviation authority, but I fear the chance of getting a successful outcome after all this time is remote.

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