What is important to know about flight delay compensation?

Author: Kremena Ruseva

flight delay eu regulation financial compensation


What is important to know about flight delay compensation? Imagine you are at the airport, waiting to board the airplane and the information board announces that your flight is delayed. As we all know, people travel for a lot of reasons – from business trips to holiday, visiting family or friends, etc. What to do in this situation? What are your rights if the flight is not going according to plan? We shall tell you what your passenger rights are and will give you useful information which will help you deal with this problem.

When are you entitled to flight delay compensation?

flight delay compensation eu regulation


Due to the fact that air travel is becoming cheaper, the number of passengers is constantly growing. Small flight delays occur often and as a rule they do not cause significant inconveniences. However, long delays also happen and they may ruin your travel plans.

Flight delay compensation in Europe is regulated by EC 261 (Air passenger rights) and it includes the airspace of all 28 EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. This means that if you are flying to Europe from America, Canada or Australia, for example, on an European airline and vice versa, you are entitled to submit a claim for European flight delay compensation. It may not come as a surprising news, but there are many people who do not realize that they have passenger rights that are protected by law. Even if they have heard about these rights, they do not know what to do in case of delays, cancellations, etc. You can find detailed information on AirHelp platform about passenger rights and you can check if you are entitled to compensation.

flight delay compensation claims

So, when are you entitled to flight delay compensation? Under the regulations of EC 261, every passenger is entitled to file a delayed flight claim in case that:

  • The passenger arrives at his destination more than three hours later than planned.
  • The passenger checked in for his flight no less than 45 minutes before departure.
  • The airline is responsible for the delay due to operational circumstances, technical difficulties, etc.

It doesn’t matter whether the airline has already provided you with food, refreshment or travel vouchers. During the delay companies are obliged to provide meals and refreshments, access to communications and overnight accommodations.

What do you get as flight delay compensation?

flight delay compensation eu passenger rights


Flight delay compensation differs depending on the distance of your destination and the hours of delay. Generally, you can file a claim for financial compensation for any flight delayed longer than three hours within the last 3 years. Keep in mind that the time limits to make a claim vary from country to country. For example, in Germany the time limit is 3 years, while in Spain it is 5 years and in the UK – 6 years.

  • You have a right to 250 euros on all flights within the EU up to 1500 kilometers;
  • You have a right to 400 euros for Internal EU flights over 1,500 kilometers
  • Delays of non-internal EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 kilometers entitle passengers to financial compensation of 400 euros.
  • Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 km (If the start or end destination is outside the EU) a delay of 3-4 hours entitles the passenger to 300 compensation and in case the delay is longer than 4 hours – 600 euro.

Tips for flight delays and passenger rights

It is important to know that there are certain exceptions like “extraordinary circumstances” and if such occur, passengers are not entitled to file a claim. What are extraordinary circumstances? Usually, these are circumstances beyond the control of the airline and include political instability, extreme weather conditions, medical emergencies, air traffic control restrictions, acts of terrorism, etc.

flight delay money compensation and eu regulations


In case the passenger did not check in on time, he is not entitled to file a claim for financial compensation. The same is valid if the traveler has a free ticket. One of the latest rulings of the European Court of Justice is connected to internal “wildcat strikes” by flight staff. In 2018 the Court stated that airlines are obligated to pay EU airline compensation for flight delays when an airline strike is the cause of the flight disruption.

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