Each day, countless travelers in the European Union fall victim to delayed, overbooked, and canceled flights. In the past passengers would be facing unlikely odds, and oftentimes they would come up empty-handed. Today, however, you are entitled to what’s called flight delay compensation. It all started with the European Passenger Rights Regulation EC 261 from 2004, which establishes the guidelines for what passengers are owed from airlines for cancelling, overbooking and delaying flights. We will dive deeper into that a little later in this post.
Knowing your rights is one thing. Honestly, it’s just the first step. Asserting your rights and collecting the compensation that you are owed is what really matters, and TravelRefund has a firm understanding of this process.
Reviewing Air Passenger Rights for Delayed or Cancelled Flights
For starters, EU 261/2004 states that passengers are entitled to payouts ranging from €250-600. There are specific qualifications that a flight delay or cancellation must possess in order to result in any payout. The two factors that are most important are:
- The length of your journey
- How long your flight was delayed
Flight delay compensation qualifies your right if you are forced to wait for more than three hours. If the delay extends past five hours over your originally booked flight or is cancelled, the airline accepts the responsibility unless there are extraordinary circumstances. In this situation the airline is required to offer you a choice between the following options:
- A full refund for the flight
- A full refund for connecting flights from the airline that are going to be missed in the same booked flight
- If you are in the middle of your journey, a return flight to the airport you originally departed from at the earliest opportunity
- A re-routing flight at a later date for your convenience under the Comparable Transport Conditions
There is an expectation of comfort that falls to the airline. These compensation claims are about more than just money. They are about time, and how much it’s worth.
Let’s start with the airline’s obligation to offer you another flight to the same destination. During the delay, you are entitled to necessary accommodations from the airline for your comfort. This can include a meal and refreshments while you wait for the next available flight, and it can even extend to a stay at a nearby hotel if the delay extends to the next day.
Beyond those comfort details, the financial aspects of flight delay compensation claims are a little more intricate. Here is an idea of the basics for flight delay criteria.
Short distance flight delays (anything below 1500km of travel), call for flight delay compensation of €250. Medium distance flight delays (between 1500km and 3500km) equal a potential compensation claim of €400. Long distance flight delays (anything over 3500km) calls for compensation of €600 per passenger.
Common Barriers When Claiming Compensation
The rules and guidelines surrounding flight delay compensation are pretty cut and dry, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t barriers. Let’s start with the most basic barrier: the location of your planned travel.
In order to be eligible for flight delay compensation, passengers must possess a valid ticket and booking confirmation for a flight that either begins at an airport in the EU, or lands at one. The airline’s headquarters also has to be located within the EU. When it comes to places outside of the EU, like the U.S., your flight delay compensation rights may vary depending on the situation and airline.
Beyond the location factor, the reason for the cancellation must be within the airline’s control. If extraordinary circumstances are to blame, any flight delay compensation might prove to be for naught. Factors like severe weather, political instability, and security risks that are out of the airlines control will limit the validity of your compensation claim in the eyes of the law.
It’s worth noting that these instances are rare, and your rights need protecting. Airlines might neglect them and make you go through a lengthy process just to do that. If you feel you have a potential claim for compensation and aren’t sure what to do next, you have options.
Taking Steps to Assert Your Rights
Asserting your rights is about preparation more than anything. In the event of a flight delay or cancellation, an official claim must be filed with the airline who you booked through. These steps might vary from airline to airline.
Being prepared is not only about gathering the necessary paperwork and going through the required hoops. It’s about understanding what comes next. For example, if your initial request is denied you need to immediately advance your argument to the National Enforcement Body (NEB).
Going after flight delay compensation might be a first for you. There are going to be bumps in the road and ultimately, you might find yourself gearing up for a legal battle if the process proves to be too daunting for you as an individual. Bypassing these steps is also an option, and it’s one that can be beneficial in the short term, and the long term.
If you choose to go with a private lawyer, the costs can add up as the flight delay compensation claim process can be lengthy. Beyond going private, TravelRefund can also offer legal services at a much more affordable price.
How Can TravelRefund Help?
Airlines lose delay tactics as an option when the professionals get involved. Delaying is their most effective leverage play. With professional lawyers pushing your flight delay compensation claim forward, the normal tactics won’t get you caught up.
In our view, professional guidance will be a difference maker for your claim and it can accelerate the timeline for finding a solution. Doing so will save you time and earn you money in the long run, and it will assert your rights as a passenger in the EU. Each successful case re-affirms the rights of anyone who boards an airplane.
TravelRefund operates on a no cure, no pay basis. Either you get your compensation, or you don’t. That means, when you work with us, any case that goes to court won’t be a net loss. If the case doesn’t end in victory, you will never get a bill from us. If we are sending you a bill of any sort it will be accompanied by a more substantial compensation payment.
Bolstering the rights of passengers in the EU is the purpose behind our mission. We are always innovating our strategy as we try and improve this process so that our clients get the flight delay compensation that they deserve in a timely fashion.
Learn more about your options when making a flight delay compensation request for free by filling out our online form.