EU Regulation 261 2004

EU regulation 261/2004 was passed in 2004 to protect air passengers who have experienced flight disruptions. It enforces the rights of air passengers who have been denied boarding or been subject to delays or cancellations, and to compensate them for the inconvenience and costs that may have happened a result. The EU Regulation 261 is binding law in all current European Union member states, and they do not have the choice to opt out of the regulation. Certain countries, such as Norway and Switzerland, have opted in to EU Regulation 261, even though they are not EU member states.

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What is EU Regulation 261/2004 and how does it protect me?

It is important to understand your rights as an air passenger before flying. All passengers, regardless of nationality or age, are protected under EU Regulation 261 when flying from an airport based in an EU member state or arriving into an EU country while travelling with an EU airline. This means that non-EU airlines must follow EU flight compensation regulations when operating flights departing from EU airports.

Under EU regulation, you are entitled to care and assistance from the airline when suffering severe flight disruptions. Care and assistance include overnight accommodation and transport to accommodation if delayed overnight, free food and drink while experiencing long delays at the airport, and the option to make two telephone calls or emails.

EU Regulation 261 also entitles you to financial compensation for flight disruptions, provided the disruption was not due to an extraordinary circumstance. To find out if you're eligible for monetary compensation, simply submit your details to our compensation checker totally free of charge, and we'll help you to get the reimbursement you deserve.

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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AirHelp is a part of the Association of Passenger Rights Advocates (APRA) whose mission is to promote and protect passengers’ rights.

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