At the beach in Koh Nang Yuan, Thailand

By Norbert Figueroa, an experienced architect, travel writer, long-term budget traveler, and photographer with over 13 years of travel experience in over 139 countries and counting. @globotreks


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Unfortunately, most air passengers have experienced flight delays during their travels, and it’s often difficult to know what you’re entitled to when this occurs. The fact that airlines have different policies on compensation for flight delays makes this even more complicated.

So, what compensation could you receive if your Delta flight is delayed – and how do you claim it?

Does Delta have to provide compensation for delayed flights?

If your Delta flight departs from and lands in a US airport, then Delta isn’t legally required to provide compensation if your flight is delayed. This is because the US Department of Transportation doesn’t include flight delay compensation in its regulations.

Rather than compensate you for a delayed flight, Delta will attempt to book you a seat on the next available flight. However, Delta Air Lines does have a compensation policy for delayed or canceled flights in certain circumstances:

Plane Wing in the Sky

Overnight flight delays

If your delayed flight means you’re inconvenienced overnight, then Delta Air Lines will try to provide you with accommodation for the night at a Delta-contracted facility. This only applies to flight cancellations and delays considered to be within the airline’s control (more on this later).

If a Delta-contracted facility is unavailable, then the airline will compensate you for the costs of your accommodation and transport to and from the airport.

Or, if a Delta-contracted hotel is unavailable, and you don’t book your own accommodation, Delta will provide you with credit equal to the nightly rate of the hotel.

Delayed flights from or to the EU

If your flight departs or lands in the EU, your chances of compensation increase substantially thanks to EU Regulation 261/2004. This covers all flights departing from the EU, regardless of the operating airline. 

If this applies to you and you don’t take the trip due to a Delta flight delay or cancellation, you should get a refund of your airfare including all of the connections, refreshments, and accommodations, if the delay is overnight.

To find out if you’re eligible for Delta flight delay compensation, you can use AirHelp’s eligibility checker.

Flight board at airport - no flight delay

Tips for getting compensated for delayed Delta flights

So, if you are eligible for Delta flight delay compensation, how do you go about claiming it? Well, you need to make your compensation claim the right way if you want to be successful. The following tips should help you get the compensation you deserve.

1. Remain calm and get straight to the point

It’s natural for you to be frustrated if your flight is delayed. However, you need to keep the discussion about why you should receive compensation brief and to the point. Don’t give unnecessary details that won’t help your claim to be resolved.

A flight cancellation or delay can often lead to heightened emotions, and this is perfectly understandable. Still, you should try to remain calm and politely present your case. By doing so, you’ll make it easier for the Delta representative you’re dealing with, and your flight compensation claim may be dealt with more efficiently.

2. Retain your documents and gather evidence

Often, passengers discard their documents when their flights have been canceled or delayed. Yet, this is a common travel mistake you’ll certainly regret when filing compensation claims for delays.

With my passport, visa and boarding pass to North Korea
Keep your documents!

As such, you want to ensure that your documents are safe and readily available when needed.

You should also gather evidence of your delay such as photos of the departures board, and keep any receipts for costs you’ve incurred as a result of the delay.

3. Contact Delta’s Customer Care Department

Although you can speak to a Delta representative at the airport, it’s usually best to contact Delta’s Customer Care Department via email to submit your compensation claim. When doing so, make sure you attach all of the evidence you’ve gathered and your supporting documents, such as your boarding passes.

4. Leverage social media

If you’re not getting the response you want from Delta, try reaching out to them via social media. Tagging the company in a public post about your issue is often a good way to get their attention, and it might lead to a speedier resolution.

5. Use third-party services

If you’re struggling to get the compensation you’re owed, then consider using a third-party service like AirHelp. They’ll contact the airline for you and guide you through the process of making a compensation claim. This is much quicker and easier than doing everything yourself.

When is it unlikely you’ll be compensated for flight delays?

As mentioned above, Delta will only compensate you for a delayed flight if the delay is caused by something under their control. In circumstances where delays are caused by things outside of their control, Delta Air Lines (and most airlines) will not compensate you for delayed flights. These circumstances include:

1. Bad weather

Flying during exceptionally bad weather is, of course, a safety concern. This means your flight will either be delayed or canceled if the weather is bad enough. Unfortunately, as this is outside of Delta’s control, you won’t be compensated for flight delays under these circumstances.

Snowy day in New Zealand

2. Terror threats

In the rare event that your flight is delayed due to a terror threat, you won’t be compensated. This is an exceptional circumstance for which the airline can’t be held accountable.

3. Air traffic control

If air traffic control prevents your flight from taking off, you won’t be compensated for any resulting delays as this is not under the airline’s control.

4. Equipment failure at the airport

If an airplane’s equipment fails, then it’s reasonable for the airline that operates it to be held accountable. However, if your delay is caused by failures in equipment operated by the airport, it’s unlikely you’ll be compensated. This could include things like runway maintenance issues and problems with the airport’s refueling equipment.

Share your flight delay compensation stories

Have you ever filed a compensation claim with Delta Air Lines or any other airline? How did you manage to make the process easier for you? Did you use services like AirHelp to get the best compensation? Share your stories in the comments below.

5 Tips for Claiming Flight Delay Compensation with Delta Airlines or any Other Airline
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26 Comments

  1. Delta cancelled a future flight and rebooked me on a flight for 11 hours later, the next day. Im checking out of the hotel on the day that the original flight was supposed to be, at 11 pm. Now they booked me on a flight for 10 am the next morning. There’s a 4 1/2 hr wait to call customer service. How to get compensation?

      1. Hi, i just flew delta last night. It all began when i had a lay over in minneapolis, from austin to go to california. The plane was scheduled to leave at 12:20 am , we started to board at 11:30 pm. We were all belted in , waiting to leave the terminal , when the stewardess gets on the p.a. and says that we are not leaving because of a pilot issue. So, we did not get a hotel voucher. What we got was a 100.00 dollar voucher for our next flight. What t.f.? So i had to get a uber, there and from, hotel room, and food. (They did give a 15.00 food voucher, for in the airport. Which is maybe 1 meal. I feel like i was put out to fend for myself. I need covmpensation.

  2. Had a flight July 30 2021, flight was delayed for 2 hours, had return flight from Anchorage Alaska on August 12 there was a 2 hour delay because of maintenance on Aircraft then non of the screens onboard the plane wouldn’t work, Delta is not a good airline anymore you can’t even get them on the phone or by text😡

  3. My niece had here preschool graduation
    . The flight was delayed 8 hours and I missed it. I also had severe osteoarthritis. They kept extending the delay 30 minutes so I could not go anywhere. Eventually they canceled the flight and rescheduled me for a different flight. By the time I reached Rochester I could barely move.

  4. My flight with Delta destination São Paulo Brasil at 10:25pm it’s delay, I’m still sitting in the airplane it’s 3:25 am, what it’s worse it’s that we haven’t heard a word from anyone, not even apologizing for the delay,,,,HELP.

  5. So my fligh was rebooted twice in the same day. I’m arriving 11 hours later then the original time. I dont know how much this matters but I was suppose to land at my destination a little before 1am but now landing at my layover at 540am, which they had to change my layover because I wasn’t going to make that to that flight so they rebooked my layover flight now arriving at my final destination at 11am. Oh in a city that further then my destination and having to come back to it. I’m pretty heated because I have to wait close to 7 hours in the airport. Help please!

    1. Thank you for sharing. While compensation conditions change from airline to airline, and even the conditions that caused the delay, there might be a potential compensation here. Reach out to the airline directly and file a claim, or use AirHelp for a “hands-off” approach to filing this claim. They know all the ins and outs when it comes to filing claims, so if there’s a case here, they’ll try to get you the highest compensation possible.

  6. I booked a trip from Atlanta to Los Angeles with Delta Vacations. The flight to Los Angeles was delayed due to lack of crew. The flight back to Atlanta was cancelled due to lack of crew. I only found out that there was a lack of crew after I spent over 2 hours on the phone with customer service just to be placed “in line” for a call back I never received. I ended up having to change my flight 4 times due to the inconvenience. On top of that upon my arrival to LAX I found that my original flight back to Atlanta actually took off. Apparently it was overbooked and I was removed from the flight. This is unacceptable. I ended up having to leave my hotel in Los Angeles and forced to take a red eye flight. The red eye flight was from Los Angeles to Orlando to Atlanta. I spent 12 hours flying for a flight that should’ve been less than half the time. I love flying with Delta and want to know how this can be compensated.

    1. Oh wow! So sorry this happened! Hopefully, Delta might be helping in this situation, but if the process seems to stall or be too cumbersome, then I recommend proceeding with AirHelp.

  7. I was able to get through to them three times today with zero wait..also, the agent herself told me to hang on to all receipts for reimbursement. My flight has been delayed for 2 hrs. I am pleased with Delta.

  8. I am a US citizen flying first class from Venice, Italy in the spring. I am on a Delta co/share flight KLM to Amsterdam with only a 50 minute connection time for my flight to JFK. Is this enough time to make my connection? If for some reason I don’t make it will they compensate me if I have to agree to a basic economy seat?

    1. Hi Sandra,

      It’s hard to say if 50 minutes will be enough as it all depends on the current traffic at Amsterdam’s airport, especially if you have to go through their “TSA” in between flights. If you purchased the flights together, I believe Delta will accommodate you to a new flight if the connection is too tight. They have this connection information and often expedite passengers between flights when they have tight connections. Or, they move you to a different flight (and/or compensate, if appropriate).

      Based on what you described, this is something that has to be dealt with directly with KLM/Delta as there’s no delay or cancellation on their part so far.

      1. We were flying with Delta/KLM with a three hour layover in Amsterdam. The flight was delayed coming in to Amsterdam due to refuelling issues in Minneapolis. We missed our connecting flight in Amsterdam to Kilimanjaro. They rebooked us two days later and so we missed two days of our very expensive Safari! I would definitely recommend more then 50 mins to connect.

    2. It can be doable, IF the previous flight is not delayed. I would get all boarding passes at the point of origin. Worst case scenario is that your bags may not get transferred, which I am sure you can live with?

  9. I and my husband had a non-stop flight from San Francisco to Boston. Delta canceled the flight I was booked into and moved me to a one-stop flight which is nearly 2 hours earlier and that reaches 2 hours later than the originally scheduled time. Now I have an option to reschedule for another non-stop flight which is 7 hours earlier. How much monetary compensation can I expect with a flight change?

  10. I was scheduled to be on a flight from Syndey, Australia to Los Angeles. That flight was canceled due to mechanical problems with the aircraft…and after a subsequent reschedule/cancellation I was put on a plane leaving 5 days later…. not acceptable due to lost wages and 5x last minute hotel and living expenses. We had to rebook ourselves via a different airline.

    I’ve now spent nearly 18 hours of time on the phone (mostly on hold) with Delta trying to get a cash refund and compensation. Each time, the representatives essentially tell me to submit an online form, and wait. The refund queue is minimum 30-days out. The experience has been, in a woefully inadequate word, frustrating. The last call, a woman said I’d certainly be entitled to the refund on that leg of my trip. She could not say what other compensation I’d be able to receive – even the carriage contract amount Delta says they’ll pay. No clue how this will pan out…but the entire handling of the situation seems a bit passive and overcomplicated, all of which makes me feel like I’m going to lose out in the end. We’ll see….

  11. I reserved and paid for first class on delta but was at the last minute seated in general seating while another customer was given my first class seat. Don’t trust delta.

  12. My flight # 9092
    From LAX TO ATLANTA
    From departure 2:50 pm
    Now departure 11:50pm
    They are changing time 4 times already
    Make me so crazy and giving me a difficult times to get home,,
    My airline ticket not so cheap when you booked at delta airlines
    You’re did a very terrible Work and Broken,,,, Your already loss a confident to all the customer
    How can I stay here so long and all the spending money
    Who will pay back for that terrible situation

  13. what if they cancel a flight due to bad weather but i can prove the weather was perfect at time of flight al the way to destination! and they had no crew was real reason they lied due to it being a fully booked flight and no available flights for 2 to 3 days they didnt want to compensate the entire plane! they booked hotels and transportation with itinerary for a few older couples but rest were denied!

  14. My family of 5 was offered compensation to not board a flight leaving LAX to Sydney due to being heavily overbooked, we opted for the next nights’ flight and after checking specifically that the compensation would be eligible to be spent in Aus they advised us to opt for the virtual Mastercard/Visa card, then convert to our currency and we would be able to spend anywhere. All good, we accepted and went through the process of activating the cards. Now that we have arrived back in Sydney, the cards are only in USD, can’t be used without an USA address and goods purchased can only be sent to that address. Have spent 8 hours on line (mostly on hold) chatting with Delta customer care to be told use them next time in the US. There is nothing they can do. The Delta team that deals with customer service for the Delta gift cards tell us Delta can totally reissue the cards, Delta is telling us its not them that can do that, its the card company – just a loop and we are left with no compensation or fix – what do you suggest we do? Thanks

    1. Wow, I’m sorry you’re going through this. Unfortunately, I don’t have a proper answer for this, but I would maybe start by calling your local aviation department to see if they have any suggestions regarding local laws that might apply to you (and help) in this case.