Q&A - Our flight was cancelled due to drone activity. Are we entitled to compensation or refund?

Q)  My partner and I were due to visit our daughter just before Christmas, while she’s on her year abroad at university. Unfortunately our flight was cancelled on arrival at the airport; the cancellation was due to an unidentified object entering airport airspace and the airport having to temporarily close. Our daughter is in quite a remote area of southern France and there are only two flights a week to her nearest airport. We were unable to travel on the next flight due to my work commitments. Am I entitled to a refund or compensation?

A)  The airport closure is likely to have been considered an “extraordinary circumstance”, as defined by EU law, and therefore beyond the control of any airline. The normal laws in relation to compensation for flight delays and cancellations are unlikely to apply. However, as your flight was cancelled outright you can get your money back for all parts of the ticket you haven’t used. For instance, if you had booked a return flight you are likely to be able to get the full cost of the return ticket back from your airline.

I note that flying on the next flight was not practical in your situation. If you still want to travel, your airline must find you an alternative flight, however this would waive your right to a refund. It’s your decision whether you wish to travel straight away or at a later date that suits you (within a reasonable time limit).

Although often airlines will book you onto another of their flights to the same destination, if another airline is flying there sooner then you may have the right to be booked onto that flight instead, this is something you can discuss with your airline.

Please note that the above rules only apply to certain flights to, from or within the EU.

Article 21/01/2019

Robert Williams

Robert Williams

Partner and Complaints Handler

Partner and Head of the Civil Litigation, Personal Injury and Dispute Resolution team in Wrexham

James Denton

James Denton


Solicitor in our Civil Litigation team in the Oswestry and Wrexham offices.