How to Handle Delta Flight Delays

You're entitled to monetary compensation when flying out of Europe — on domestic routes, it's not so simple.
Anya Kartashova
By Anya Kartashova 

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Flight delays are no fun. A nor’easter, missing crew or aircraft maintenance issues can delay your flight faster than you can say “delay.” It’s one thing if the wait time is minimal. But, a long delay can mean a missed connection or an overnight stay and mess up your entire vacation.

Depending on the airline and your route, you might be able to claim flight delay compensation. Here’s what to do when you experience flight delays on Delta Air Lines.

Try to receive compensation for the Delta flight delay

It depends. In reality, there are currently no federal U.S. laws that protect passengers in case of a flight delay, except in the case of an involuntary bump. In practice, you might be eligible for some compensation if the delay is within the airline’s control.

If your Delta flight is delayed by at least 30 minutes, you can rebook a new flight to your final destination. You can do this through the app, by calling Delta customer service or by visiting a Delta help desk at the airport.

Depending on the delay, you might ask the airline for a goodwill credit to your SkyMiles account. If you’re delayed overnight, Delta might give you a hotel voucher for a free night and possibly some meal vouchers. Keep in mind that none of these offers are guaranteed, and you might not receive anything.

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Understand the European Union EC 261 flight compensation regulation

If your Delta flight departs Europe, you might qualify for the EC 261/2004 flight compensation regulation. Customers are eligible for this compensation if they depart the EU on any airline or arrive in the EU while flying with a European airline.

So, if your Delta flight out of a European Union country, or a European Economic Area, which includes non-EU members like Iceland or Norway, is delayed or canceled, you may be eligible for compensation. This compensation varies based on how long the delay and the flight distance is.

As per the EC 261 regulation, you can expect the following compensation for delayed flights (based on the scheduled arrival time):

  • 250 euros for flights shorter than 932 miles (1,500 kilometers) that are delayed at least two hours.

  • 400 euros for flights between 932 miles and 2,174 miles (3,500 kilometers) that are delayed at least three hours.

  • 600 euros for flights longer than 2,174 miles that are delayed at least four hours.

Additionally, if the flight is delayed for five hours or longer, you’re eligible to get a refund for the unused portion of the ticket.

Some delay reasons, such as weather or political conflicts, aren’t covered, so check with Delta whether the airline would be responsible for the compensation. Typically, airlines only have to pay if the delay is for a reason that's within the airline's control — such as mechanical issues.

Although the United Kingdom left the European Union, its government retained the EC 261 regulation, which means that similar compensation applies to eligible flights from the U.K.

How to proceed in case of Delta flight delays

If you experience a Delta delay of 30 minutes or longer, you can change your flight for a different one. Once a flight is delayed, there’s always a chance for an extended setback, so it might not be the worst plan to switch to the next departing plane going to your destination.

Request a change in the Fly Delta app, on the Delta website through My Trips or wait in line at a customer service desk. You can also call a representative at 800-221-1212 to make a flight change.

For a higher chance of success, if you can’t change a Delta flight in the app or need more assistance with an overnight delay, call the airline while you wait in the airport line. This way, whoever you get to first can help you quicker.

You can also file a complaint online but beware that a reply can take several days. To do so, click “Feedback & Complaints” and “Submit general feedback.” Next, check the “File a Complaint” box, then check “Flight Difficulties” and then “Flight Delayed.” Continue to personal info and then continue to comment.

Again, the form is designed for post-trip feedback, so don’t expect an immediate resolution.

Know how your travel rewards card might help

Many travel rewards cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express, offer some kind of trip protection. Terms apply.

For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes with $500 trip delay reimbursement for delays of at least six hours or those requiring an overnight stay. To be eligible for coverage, you must pay for your Delta flight or taxes on an award ticket with the card. Equipment failures, inclement weather, labor strikes and hijacking are covered.

The trip delay insurance that comes with the The Platinum Card® from American Express reimburses up to $500 per covered trip that’s delayed at least six hours. Inclement weather, terrorism, equipment failure and loss of passport or other travel documents are covered. Terms apply.

To better protect yourself in advance, buy travel insurance

If trip delay insurance provided by travel rewards cards isn’t enough, consider purchasing a comprehensive travel insurance plan. In many cases, a travel policy will have higher coverage limits than what you get through your card provider.

Shop around for plans and make price comparisons. Keep in mind that the longer your trip is, the more money it will cost to cover it. A traveler’s age also influences how much a plan will set you back. Still, trip insurance can spare you some of the aggravation if something goes wrong during your trip.

With a comprehensive plan, on top of trip delay coverage, you’ll have:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption coverage.

  • Baggage delay coverage.

  • Emergency medical insurance.

  • Emergency medical evacuation coverage.

Some plans even offer quarantine lodging expenses if you get COVID-19 while traveling, and you might be able to add “Cancel For Any Reason” protection.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Getting coverage from travel insurance requires preplanning, as you can't purchase a plan at the airport. So add this step to your trip planning to-do list to protect your bookings in the future.

If your Delta flight is delayed

First of all, don't panic. If you can't wait it out, contact the airline by phone or at a customer service desk and ask to be put on a different flight to your destination. If your Delta flight is departing Europe, be aware of your passenger rights and don't forget to claim compensation if it's a significant delay.

If all else fails, file a claim with your credit card benefits administrator or trip insurance provider if you purchased a plan in advance.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Cards for Delta from our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

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5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.


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Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

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Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.


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Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

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