For people who commute or travel frequently, delays are no doubt an all too familiar occurrence. What many regular travellers do not know however is that you can actually be compensated for these and in fact make money when your train, plane (and in some cases) bus is delayed.
Delay repay is essentially free money for your troubles and so it’s obviously an extremely worthwhile habit to get into.
Through this delay payback service, I have travelled for free from London to my home town station at least twice (usually costing £60+ per ticket) and I have even been refunded for a severely delayed flight to Poland that, due to personal circumstances, I wasn’t planning on catching anyway.
Despite the fact there are often posters around stations and airports advertising the scheme, not many people know about it or use it. Here’s where it changes!
If you left from the UK, here is what you need to know about the delay repay scheme, how to do it and why you should make a habit to apply for it!
What is Delay Repay?
Delay Repay is a national scheme set up in many countries across the world to compensate you when your transport is unexpectedly delayed.
This being said, if it is planned engineering works or due to another transport operator, you won’t qualify for it.
Delay repay schemes unfortunately can’t be found all over the world though. Luckily, for the UK, it is a well-established government programme and it’s the same in many parts of Europe. For other countries, such as my second home of Australia, it’s not so simple – they are yet to provide clear guidance on travel delay procedures.
How Long Does My Delay Need to Be?
Each travel operator has a different policy for how long you need to be delayed in order to qualify for delay repay.
Generally for trains, it can be as little as 15 minutes (though usually 30 minutes). For flights it’s longer – usually delays over 3 hours.
Delay Repay For Trains
Train tickets that have been purchased in advance, at the station or if you have a season ticket, qualify to receive delay repay. For season tickets, the compensation will be calculated against the proportional daily cost of a trip.
Here is a screenshot taken from the National Rail website showing a list of train companies who have delay repay schemes. If you go on to this website, you are able to click on the relevant provider and it will take you to their specific compensation web page.
Delay repay for Flights
Even if your flight is not delayed for as long as 3 hours, you may still be able to claim a partial refund or vouchers if you contact the airline and argue your cause. Explain the inconvenience and additional expenses the delay caused and make sure you keep any receipts so you can show proof of your purchases.
If your flight is delayed for long enough, the airline is required by law to provide you with food and drink, access to a telephone and your emails and accommodation if you are delayed overnight (including transport between the hotel and airport).
You can check with the Citizens Advice website for more information but it’s best to speak directly to the airline staff to see what your rights are.
Some airlines (especially budget ones) do not openly advertise these delay or cancellation perks. They are definitely in place though, so don’t be afraid to ask.
How to Claim Delay Repay
I think a lot of people do not file for compensation because they think it’s a complicated process. It really isn’t. Often it’s only a 5 minute job – booking the ticket definitely takes longer than this!
Here’s what you need to know:
- So long as you purchased the ticket in advance and it was that specific service that was delayed, you can apply for delay repay.
- It is only for unexpected delays so a breakdown, track issue or accident will count.
- Usually you need to log your claim within 28 days of the date of the delay, so the sooner you do it, the better.
- You will be able to find a refund form on the transport provider’s website. On the refund request form, you will be required to fill in basic details such as your personal information, the time of your flight/train, your departure point, destination and length of delay.
- For trains, you are required to upload a picture of the ticket and so it is wise to fill in the form from your phone so it is easy to snap one.
- Airlines usually just require your booking reference and not a photo or copy of your ticket.
- Alternatively you can fill in a paper form, enclose the ticket and post it to a Freepost address. Ask at the transport provider’s service or ticket counter for details.
There are also many agencies you can find online who can search your emails and organise the refund ‘automatically’ for you. However they will take a cut so really it is best to do it yourself.
How Much Can I Get Back?
Again, this totally depends on the operator. According to Transport Focus, for delayed trains that leave you one hour late at your destination, you are entitled to a minimum of the following:
- 20 per cent of the price paid for a single ticket
- 10 per cent of the price paid for a return ticket if the delay to you is just on one leg of the journey
- 20 per cent of the price paid for a return ticket if both legs are delayed
In any circumstance, the delay repay scheme is completely free. There are no admin or processing fees to log your claim.
How do You Receive The Refund?
Usually you have a choice how you would like to receive the payment: a nominated credit or debit card, a cheque, vouchers that can be exchanged for cash or vouchers that can be used against future travel bookings.
Travel vouchers can sometimes be worth more than a refund for the amount you paid, so if you plan to travel again soon, it is worth looking into this.
The processing time for the refund varies but usually you will receive online payment/compensation within a week or two but it can take longer for posted cheques.
How Delay Repay Can Help You:
1. It can go in the travel fund
People often ask me how I save money for travelling but to be honest, it’s just being savvy and going to the effort to put money aside whenever you can. People concentrate so much on earning money to save, not realising that not spending money is such an important saving factor too!
A full or partial delay repay refund is a little unexpected bonus that is perfect for putting straight in that travel fund!
2. You Can End Up Travelling For Free!
As I mentioned in the introduction, I have essentially travelled for free after receiving complete refunds for two pricey train journeys that were delayed. You don’t always receive a full refund but it is possible.
There’s nothing to lose by applying and potentially a free ticket to gain!
3. It Can Cover Any Other Expenses You Incurred
If you faced any other expenses as a direct result of the delay, such as a taxi or alternative mode of transport, a refund will cover or contribute towards this cost.
You could always try to claim this back separately with the operator, but if you don’t, at least with this refund you are not necessarily out-of-pocket.
Delay repay is a simple and quick process for receiving money back for the inconvenience of travel delays. It’s one small win for man and one potential leap for your bank account.
Will you be using delay repay in the future?
Heading to The UK Soon? Don’t forget these essentials!
Got travel insurance? Make sure you’re covered for any unplanned situations. I use and would recommend World Nomads.
Organised your visa? Don’t forget to check the entry requirements for the United Kingdom on the relevant government website for the passport you are travelling with.
To search and compare the best group tours and activities worldwide (with up to 50% off), use TourRadar.
For some travel inspiration for your next trip, how about Lonely Planet’s top 500 places to see… ranked?
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