EU Flight Delay Rules

The European legislation called EC 261 offers a broad range of protections for passengers who were delayed on an EU flight. Under the law, eligible passengers can claim up to £520 in flight delay compensation. It is crucial for air travellers to understand their rights under EC 261 and to know how to claim it.

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Everything Air Travellers Should Know About EU Flight Delay Rules

The most important aspect of EU flight-delay rules is passenger eligibility. A passenger is entitled to claim EU flight delay compensation if their flight departed from an EU country. Passengers also qualify for compensation if the flight departed outside the EU but landed in it, as long as the flight carrier is headquartered in the EU. In these two situations, the flight must be delayed for at least 3 hours or more to be eligible for compensation. The passenger must have a valid ticket and booking confirmation and have checked in for the flight at least 45 minutes before departure. Passengers can claim compensation even if the carrier provided travel vouchers, hotel accommodation, or refreshments during the delay.

EC 261 allows passengers to demand compensation for delays to business trips, children's paid tickets, promotional tickets, and low-cost airline tickets. European flight delay compensation rules do not apply to disruptions caused by factors beyond the airline's control, delays resulting from the passenger's actions, or trips on a free or reduced ticket which is not available to the public. The amount of compensation a claimant can receive depends on the flight distance and the length of the delay. If they meet all eligibility criteria, passengers can claim a partial or full refund of their ticket cost.

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.

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