Most frequent travellers have experienced inconveniences at the airport, from unnecessary long delays to that unexpected cancelled flight. To some passengers, a delayed or cancelled flight may mean missing an important meeting, but to others, it could be that one opportunity to get away or last chance to see a loved one. Sometimes these situations unavoidable, but did you know that your EU passenger rights mean that you may be entitled to compensation for these travel disruptions?
To protect passenger rights, the European Union passed EU Regulation 261/2004, comprehensive guidelines that allow travellers to claim compensation for delayed, overbooked, or cancelled flights with the airlines. The policy intended to reform current policies and hold airlines financially accountable when travel takes an unexpected turn that affects your plans. Knowing how to claim for flight delay compensation is essential to your rights.
Before you call the airline or ask for reimbursement for your trip, here’s what you need to know about your air passenger rights, what you’re entitled to, and options on how to get the right compensation for a delayed flight or cancellation.
When Am I Entitled to Flight Delay or Cancelled Compensation?
The EU 261 regulations have strict guidelines for flight compensation to travellers whose flights have been delayed, cancelled, or overbooked. It’s important to understand your rights under EU 261 so you can know how to claim flight compensation and where to start when this happens to you. In many cases, passengers may be entitled to flight compensation ranging from €250 to €600 when flights have been cancelled or delayed when flying in or to EU countries.
EU 261 goes beyond monetary compensation, including the airline’s obligation to inform passengers or their rights, right to reimbursement or re-routing, and even vouchers and meals during your delay. However, not every flight delay or cancellation is grounds for flight compensation. The compensation from the airline initially depends on:
- Whether the starting and/or if the final destination is within the EU
- How long and why you were delayed
- When you were notified about the cancellation or delay
According to the EU guidelines, air passenger rights only apply when:
- Your flight is within the EU and operated by an EU or non-EU airline
- Your flight arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline
- Your flight departs from the EU to a non-EU country operated by an EU or non-EU airline
In some cases, the airline operating the delayed or cancelled flight may not be the same as the one from which you bought your ticket. For compensation claims, only the airline that operates the flight can be held responsible. The cause of the delay or cancellation must also be within the airline’s control and not due to extraordinary circumstances.
What Are Extraordinary Circumstances?
To receive compensation, the delay or cancellation cannot be due to extraordinary circumstances, defined as forces that are completely outside the airline’s control that could not have been predicted. Examples of extraordinary circumstances include:
- Adverse weather conditions
- Security risks
- Natural disasters
- Air traffic control restrictions
- Political instability
Flight delays or cancellations that are not considered extraordinary circumstances may include:
- Technical issues found during maintenance
- Operational issues
- Unruly passengers
If the airline does not provide you with a valid explanation for your flight cancellation or delay, you have the right to make a cancelled flight claim or receive compensation for delays. TravelRefund is here to help with a legal assessment and advise you on how to claim flight compensation for the full amount you deserve.
How Does Flight Delay Compensation Work?
Your flight delay compensation is determined by the length of the delay and distance travelled. The amount of compensation is negotiable depending on the circumstances but is maxed out at €600. The airline is obligated to take care of you or pay flight compensation based on how many hours your flight is delayed according to these guidelines:
If Your Flight Is Delayed At Least Two Hours
When your flight is delayed at least two hours, the airline is required to inform you of your rights to meals and accommodations while you wait. Under the right to care, the airline should offer you:
- Food and drink at the airport in the form of cash or vouchers
- Accommodation and transportation to your hotel if your flight is delayed overnight
If Your Flight Is Delayed More Than Three Hours
If your flight is delayed to your final destination by more than three hours, you are entitled to flight delay compensation unless due to extraordinary circumstances. Here’s the basic breakdown of how flight delay compensation works based on mileage for the delayed flight:
- 250€ – flights less than 1,500 km
- 400€ – flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km (and intra-community flights over 1,500 km)
- 600€ – flights more than 3,500 km
During the delay, you are also entitled to accommodations while you wait, including meals and drinks, or hotel and transport if staying overnight.
If Your Flight Is Delayed More Than Five Hours
If the delay extends past five hours, the airline accepts the responsibility unless extraordinary circumstances are involved. The airline must give you the choice between waiting for the next flight or giving you:
- A full refund of your flight
- A full refund of all flights by this airline if under the same booking
- A flight back to your airport of departure for free if part-way through your trip
If you decide to take the next flight instead of getting delay reimbursement, you can still be entitled to up to 600€. Knowing how to get compensation for a delayed flight is the best way to ensure you’re receiving the full amount and other amenities in which you may be entitled.
How Does Flight Cancellation Compensation Work?
Passengers with flight cancellations in the EU are also entitled to compensation from the airline according to EU 261 guidelines. A cancelled flight may include reimbursement for a ticket and up to €600 in compensation. If your flight was cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances, the airline is not responsible. Your flight also much match these two scenarios:
- You are flying to or from the EU.
- The airline must be headquartered in the EU.
The amount of compensation and your eligibility depends on when you were told about the cancellation, the length of the flight, and how long you had to wait for a new flight. Other factors include:
- If you arrive at your destination no more than two hours later despite your cancelled flight, you may not be eligible.
- If you are notified more than 14 days in advance that your flight is cancelled, you’re not eligible.
- If you were notified within 14 days before departure but were not provided an alternate route, you are entitled to compensation.
- If you were given an alternative flight but it departed or arrived at a final destination after a certain amount of hours, you may also be eligible.
When your flight is cancelled, you can choose to take the next available flight, and still be entitled to benefits and accommodations while you wait. You can also take a full refund and choose not to take the next flight.
What About Connecting Flights?
When you have one or more connections and miss one because of a cancellation, you have the right to compensation if:
- All connections were booked under a single reservation
- The delay to your final destination was at least three hours
- The delay is not caused by extraordinary circumstances
By knowing your rights and how to claim flight compensation, you may be entitled to more than just reimbursement for your flight.
How to Claim Flight Delay and Cancellation Compensation
Remember, whether the airline must pay EU flight compensation depends on the departure and arrival cities, how long you had to wait, and the reason the flight was delayed or cancelled. Before you make a delayed flight claim or seek reimbursement for a cancelled flight, explore more about your EU261 passenger rights and consider these options for filing a claim:
Contact the Airline
The EU Commission advises that you contact the airline first using either with the form provided by the airline or the EU air passenger rights form. Be sure to give the airline the names of the passengers, flight number, and the reason given for the delay.
Contact the National Enforcement Body
If you don’t receive a reply from the airline within two months, or if you are not satisfied with the response, you can file a complaint with the National Enforcement Body (NEB) in the country where the flight was cancelled or delayed. The NEB should provide you with a legal opinion on how to proceed with your claim.
Contact an EU Flight Compensation Representative
With Travel Refund, you can start talking to an authorized EU flight compensation expert today who can explain your passenger rights and handle all of the details for you. All claims collected through TravelRefund are handled by ACEA Law, one of Europe’s leading law firms for airplane compensations.
Let TravelRefund Work for You
Dealing with a delayed or cancelled flight, asserting your rights, and knowing how to claim flight compensation can be tough work. Luckily, you don’t have to go at it alone. Whether you are being told that extraordinary circumstances apply or there’s a lack of communication with the airline, we are here to help you receive rightful compensation.
TravelRefund is here to make the process easier and simplify all matters when dealing with flight delay and cancellations. As a leading flight compensation company, we have a solid understanding of EU 261 passenger rights and flight delay compensation to assess what’s rightfully yours. If you’re interested in knowing more about your passenger rights and how to claim flight compensation, fill out our free online form or contact us today!