THOUSANDS of Brits have been warned they could be refused compensation after their flights were cancelled amid the recent air traffic chaos.

Holidaymakers at home and abroad were left in limbo after the UK airspace was hit by a technical fault yesterday.

It saw stranded families forced to sleep over at airports as the disruption causes knock-on effects today.

A further 200 flights have been cancelled on Tuesday, on top of more than 1,200 which were grounded and delayed yesterday.

And your rights on getting your money back can vary if you are one of the many affected by the flight chaos.

Usually, airlines do have to provide compensation if their flights arrive three hours late.

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However, air traffic control problems don't count because these technical issues aren't their fault.

And if you agree to travel on a later flight, the airline is no longer obliged to offer food, drink or accommodation while you wait.

Travel expert Simon Calder said today that around 200,000 people were waking up this morning stranded.

But he echoed warnings that compensation is unlikely to be offered.

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While you're entitled to some support, airlines do not have to provide compensation because these air traffic faults are classified as "extraordinary circumstances".

Mr Calder told GB News: "I'm afraid things are getting worse before they get better. 

"The airline absolutely has to get you back as soon as possible even if it has to buy a ticket on another airline.

"And there is no truth to the rumour that it only has to pay for one night's accommodation. They have to pay for your hotel, if you're lucky enough to get a room."

Airlines do have an obligation to keep passengers comfortable in the event of a "significant delay" – with the Civil Aviation Authority setting out a clear definition of what meets this threshold.

You'll qualify for support if a short-haul flight under 932 miles is pushed back by two hours.

And this rises to three hours for journeys up to 2,175 miles.

For long-haul flights going any further than this, four hours or longer constitutes a significant delay.

But one expert suggested a financial package may be offered to frustrated passengers if airlines can access emergency cash themselves.

Paul Charles, CEO of The PC Agency, told Good Morning Britain: "I think the airlines are going to end up having to pay compensation but they're going to have to get that money back either from government or NATS whose software failed. It's going to take a long time."

Despite the issue being said to have been fixed by yesterday afternoon, knock-on disruption has massively affected tourists.

Passengers due to fly to Newcastle were seen bunking down on the floor of Palma airport overnight, with their flight already facing huge delays following severe weather problems.

Dozens more cancellations were announced on Tuesday morning as airlines struggle to recover from the four-hour failure.

Helen Clayton told Sky News she was stuck in Mallorca after booking a three-day break over the Bank Holiday. 

She said she had managed to rebook her flight but it was not until next Sunday with tensions seeing "fists flying" at the airport.

Frustrated tourists also took to social media to plead with airlines for help after being left in limbo.

Holidaymakers on Twitter claimed that they were forced to sleep in the airport after the shambles.

One passenger named Liam, travelling with his nine-year-old daughter, blasted Jet2's handling of the situation as ridiculous.

One lady at Heathrow was in tears after sitting there for over 20 hours waiting for her return flight to the US. 

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300 Ryanair passengers were also left stranded in Gran Canaria after the technical fault, reports Sky News.

The abandoned travellers were reportedly told the next direct flight would be at least another week away and there was "zero chance" of an emergency flight.

What are my rights if my flight is cancelled or delayed?

Under UK law, airlines have to provide compensation if your flight arrives at its destination more than three hours late.

If you're flying to or from the UK, your airline must let you choose a refund or an alternative flight.

You will be able to get your money back for the part of your ticket that you haven't used yet.

So if you booked a return flight and the outbound leg is cancelled, you can get the full cost of the return ticket refunded.

But if travelling is essential, then your airline has to find you an alternative flight. This could even be with another airline.

When am I not entitled to compensation?

The airline doesn't have to give you a refund if the flight was cancelled due to reasons beyond their control, such as extreme weather.

Disruptions caused by things like extreme weather, airport or air traffic control employee strikes or other ‘extraordinary circumstances’ are not eligible for compensation.

Some airlines may stretch the definition of the "extraordinary circumstances" but you can challenge them through the aviation regulator the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Can I get a refund if my connecting flight is cancelled?

If you missed your connecting flight because your first flight was delayed, you are entitled to a flight back to your original departure point.

Once you decide to take a refund or to travel later than the first available flight, your airline has no obligation to provide you with food, drink or accommodation.

If you are on a package holiday and you decide not to travel on your outbound flight, you may lose your holiday too, we recommend you contact your package organiser or the airline for further information.

Will my insurance cover me if my flight is cancelled?

If you can't claim compensation directly through the airline, your travel insurance may refund you.

Policies vary so you should check the small print, but a delay of eight to 12 hours will normally mean you qualify for some money from your insurer.

Remember to get written confirmation of your delay from the airport as your insurer will need proof.

If your flight is cancelled entirely, you're unlikely to be covered by your insurance.

How can I find out if my flight is delayed or cancelled?

The best way to check if your flights are cancelled are to find to the website of the airport you are flying out of to find your flight number.

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