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What should I do if my flight has been canceled or delayed?

In this article, you will learn about your rights as an air passenger and advice on how to navigate the compensation system.

Bad weather, technical difficulties, staff shortage, overbooked flights, inflation, queue chaos – 2022 has presented many challenges for the entire aviation industry, not least the air travelers.

Are you one of the unfortunate passengers who have been stranded at the airport during the summer holidays or during the holidays over Christmas and New Year?

Do not despair. You may be entitled to compensation for the delay or cancellation you experienced on your flight.

Accordingly, it is important that you know your rights as a flight passenger, so that the extra costs of the delay can be covered.

In this article, you will get concrete advice on how to navigate the compensation system, when your flight is delayed or cancelled – whether it is due to staff shortages, bad weather conditions or other unforeseen problems.


If you have booked a flight ticket on a flight that either departs from Europe or the UK, or with a European or UK airline, you are protected by Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

EU Regulation 261/04 deals with passenger rights, including passengers’ rights in relation to flight delays and flight cancellations.

If you are more than four hours late on arrival at your destination, you may be entitled to compensation of up to 600€ per person.

You can use our flight delay compensation tool to file a claim for free here.

Your rights in the event of denied boarding

Denied boarding against the passenger’s will entitles him or her to compensation.

The Denied Boarding Regulation applies if you depart from an EU airport OR your flight is registered in the EU.

In addition, you must be checked in on time. Check on your flight ticket when your airline closes check-in. If there isn’t any information about check-in on the ticket, be sure to check-in at least 45 minutes before your flight depart.

If you meet these conditions, you have the right to choose between either;

  1. refund within seven days of the full purchase price of the ticket for the part or parts of the journey not taken AND if applicable a return flight to the first point of departure
  2. rescheduling the journey to the person final destination at the earliest opportunity
  3. changing the reservation to a later date of your choice

You can read more about your rights in the event of denied boarding here.

Is your flight covered by EU regulations?

Airlines must have a license to fly into or out of the EU, as well as internally between European countries.

The EU rules naturally apply if you fly from one EU country to another.

However, you must pay particular attention to which airline is responsible for your flight when you fly to or from a country outside the European borders.

If you are traveling with a non-EU-based airline flying from a destination outside the EU, you may not be covered by EU Regulation 261/04.

DepartureEU- based AirlineNon EU-based Airline
From the EUCompensationCompensation
Outside the EUCompensationNo compensation

It can be difficult to know whether you are entitled to compensation, as EU Regulation 261/2004 covers a few countries outside Europe.

Among others, Great Britain – they wrote the regulation into UK law in 2019 after Brexit.

Hence, on a journey from the UK to a destination outside the EU, you are protected in the event of delays or cancellations.

British Airways writes on its website, among other things, that you are covered in the same way after Brexit as you were before.


If your flight is delayed, your rights depend on the length of the delay and the length of your flight.

Flight delay of more than two hours

If your flight is delayed for at least two hours, and depending on how far you are flying, your airline must offer you assistance in the form of:

  1. Two free phone calls and/or emails
  2. Free meals and refreshments, this can be in the form of meal vouchers
  3. Accommodation and transport between the airport and the hotel if the delay extends overnight, but only if the delay is 3 hours or more.

Each affected passenger can claim compensation for flight delay, provided that the delay is not due to an extraordinary circumstance.

You can read more about extraordinary circumstances in this article.

Flight delay of more than five hours

If your flight is delayed for more than five hours, you have the right to choose between being rerouted on another flight (possibly with another airline) or getting a refund, in the same way as if your flight had been cancelled.

Can your claim for compensation expire?

Your claim for compensation will generally be valid for three years after your flight was delayed or cancelled. However, other statutes of limitations may apply in some countries.


If your flight arrives at its destination more than three hours late, each affected passenger has the right to claim compensation for the flight delay.

The distance of your flight, the length and reason for the delay will affect how much compensation you can claim.

EU regulation 261/04 covers:
  • Flights departing from a European or UK airport
  • Flights departing from any country and arriving at a European or UK airport with an EU or UK based airline
  • Flights departing from any country and arriving at an EU airport with a UK airline.

You can read more about how Cancelled & Delayed Flight Compensation Works in this article.

Compensation for missed connecting flights

You may be entitled to compensation under EU 261 if you miss your connecting flight. Maybe you were denied boarding because the airline overbooked the flight, or maybe your delay is due to technical issues.

The airline must rebook you on the next available flight at no extra cost. If your new flight requires you to wait at the airport for a significant amount of time – overnight – then the airline must provide you with food, hotel and transport vouchers.

In addition to vouchers, if you missed a connecting flight due to cancellation or a long delay, you may be entitled to compensation for the cancellation of the flight. Once you’ve reached your final destination, talk to an expert about filing a claim.

Read more about your rights if you miss a connecting flight here.


If the airline can prove that the delay is due to an ‘extraordinary circumstance’, it is exempt from paying you compensation.

Extraordinary circumstances are situations beyond the airline’s control.

List of extraordinary circumstances in connection with flight delays/flight cancellations:
  • A security risk
  • Illegal acts
  • War & political instability
  • Drone interruption
  • Long queues for security
  • Bad weather conditions that make flying dangerous
  • Bird Strike
  • Medical reasons
  • Limited air traffic control operations
  • Strikes that do not concern airline staff (e.g. baggage handlers employed at the airport)

Strikes among airline staff are not considered an extraordinary circumstance, and you are therefore entitled to compensation in this case.

Although you are not entitled to financial compensation when there is an extraordinary circumstance, you are entitled to assistances.

Assistances include meals, refreshments, hotel accommodation depending on the length of the flight delay.

You can read more about extraordinary circumstances in this article.

A “technical problem” is not necessarily an extraordinary circumstance

The European Court of Justice ruled that “a technical problem” is not one of the extraordinary circumstance that airlines can use as a valid reason to not compensate their passengers for flight delays.

This is now one of the highest rulings on the issue of technical issues and is binding on all European airlines.

Do not blindly believe in airlines that use ‘extraordinary circumstances’ as an argument

It is worth challenging your airline if you do not agree that it was an extraordinary circumstance that caused the delay. Airlines may stretch the definition of extraordinary circumstances further than they should.

For example, if you are told that you cannot fly due to weather conditions, but other flights were still operating, you can challenge their claim.

There may be cases where you are entitled to compensation, for example if your flight is delayed due to the consequences of an extraordinary circumstance.

Suppose that there was drone disruption at the airport on Wednesday morning, delays that day would be classified as an extraordinary circumstance.

However, if you traveled on the Thursday after the drone disturbance took place and your flight was delayed as a result, this would be considered a consequential effect and you would therefore be entitled to compensation.


In addition to the compensation you may be entitled to pursuant to EU Regulation 261/04, you as an air passenger also have compensation rights pursuant to the Montreal Convention.

Among other things, the Montreal Convention protects air passengers against flight delays and damaged and destroyed baggage.

The Montreal Convention is concluded between more than 120 member countries that have signed the convention for the benefit of air passengers flying internationally.

However, not all countries are part of the convention, including Indonesia, Russia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Montreal Convention covers various problems on air travel, including:

  • Damaged, delayed or lost luggage that has been in the care of the airline (compensation of a maximum of DKK 10,000)
  • one night with pre-booked accommodation
  • a concert or event for which you had purchased tickets
  • a day of car rental that you had already paid for

You may lose your right to compensation if…

 You agree to one of the following alternatives:
  • voucher,
  • gift card,
  • flight credits or
  • cash points.

You must therefore pay particular attention to the fact that the airline cannot simply send you one of the above without you having actively asked for this alternative compensation.

You will still be entitled to a cash refund according to The Flight Compensation Regulation 2004 (EC) No 261/2004 if you have not used an alternative to refund for the canceled flight.

If you have any questions or are in doubt about your rights, do not hesitate to contact us. We’re always here to answer your questions about passenger rights.

Read also about the 3 most common reasons for flight delays.

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