EU Flight Delay Compensation Rules

A flight delay is not something you should welcome so it's important to know the EU flight delay compensation rules. According to EU 261 legislation, the compensation you are entitled to depends on the distance your flight covered and the time you lost. The legislation was created for travellers who book tickets under the normal flight programmes by EU air carriers. Whether you were on a business trip or had booked a holiday package, the airline responsible for disrupting your journey must be held responsible.

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Know Your Rights for Delayed Flights

You are covered by the EU flight delay compensation rules on any flights departing from an EU airport, or arriving at an EU airport as long as the airline has headquarters in an EU country. It is your right to be compensated if your arrival at your destination is late by 3 hours or more. This could mean up to £520 in reimbursements.

To claim your compensation, you must have checked in for your flight no later than 45 minutes prior to departure. Make sure you have a valid ticket and your booking is confirmed. If the EU airline transfers you from your reserved flight to an alternative tour operator or air carrier, you have the right to claim flight compensation as well. If the airline offers an alternative flight and you are seated in a higher class than the one you had initially booked, you must not pay an extra penny. However, if you are offered a lower class, the airline should reimburse 30% to 75% of the price paid during the initial booking.

AirHelp is here to help you get compensation for flight delays and cancellations. Find out what you could be entitled to.

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About AirHelp

AirHelp is the world's largest air passenger rights organisation, here to help air travellers secure compensation for delayed, cancelled, or overbooked flights .

We make claiming compensation easy and stress-free. Whether you are unsure of your rights, lack the time, or simply want an expert to handle your entire claim for you, AirHelp can help you get what you are rightfully owed.

We operate on a no win, no fee basis, so you can check your compensation risk-free.


Claiming Compensation for Flight Delays and Cancellations

How do you know when you should claim compensation for a delayed or cancelled flight? Though the law can be complicated, we're here to break it down for you:

Delayed flights: you may be able to claim compensation if your flight arrived 3 hours or more late.
Cancelled flights: you may be eligible for compensation if your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before it was due to depart.
Overbookings: you are owed compensation any time you are denied boarding through no fault of your own — so long as you didn't voluntarily give up your seat.

We should note that if extraordinary circumstances were involved, arirlines are under no obligation to pay compensation. Examples of extraordinary circumstances include bad weather, travel restrictions, and air traffic control strikes. Though these situations cause delays and cancellations, the airline isn't at fault, so can't be expected to offer compensation.

Remember these are European flight regulations and so only apply to flights departing from an EU airport, or flights landing in the EU with a European airline. The table below makes it clear which flights are covered:

Claim up to £520 in compensation if your flight has been delayed, cancelled, or overbooked within the last 3 years.

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How Much Flight Compensation?

DistanceCompensation
All flights under 1,500 kmUp to £220 per person
Internal EU flights over 1,500 kmUp to £350 per person
Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 - 3,500 kmUp to £350 per person
Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 kmUp to £520 per person

Table shows values in € as specified in EC 261

In some circumstances the compensation amount may differ from the standard amounts shown above. The easiest way to find out what you’re owed is to use our Compensation Check.


What to Do if Your Flight is Delayed or Cancelled

If you experience a flight delay or cancellation, here's what you should do:

  • Hold onto your boarding pass and other travel documents.
  • Ask why the flight was delayed or cancelled.
  • Request food, drinks, and if necessary, free transport and hotel accommodation.
  • If you had a cancelled flight, ask for an alternative flight or a refund.
  • Keep all receipts of any extra expenses you may have had, including necessary food, clothing, etc.
  • Be careful not to sign any waivers or accept vouchers that will require you to waive your right to compensation.

Have AirHelp claim your compensation

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