The EC 261 allows air travellers to seek refunds or compensation when airlines cancel their flights. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the flight, EU law entitles you to flight cancellation compensation if you cannot begin or complete your trip as you originally planned. Other considerations may qualify you for more compensation from the carrier.
Under the EC 261, you may qualify for flight compensation if an airline delayed your flight for over 5 hours and it no longer suits you to take the flight. You can also seek a full refund if the flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure and the alternative flight the carrier offered does not suit your itinerary. Passengers can also demand a full flight refund if they were denied boarding and decide not to take the alternative flight that was offered. When an airline cancels your flight, EU law entitles you to a full or partial refund. You can request a return flight to your original departure destination. The legislation supports you in requesting the earliest possible alternative flight to your final destination. It also entitles you to a new ticket to your final destination at a convenient date of your choice.
Flight refunds must be paid with cash, cheques, bank orders, or bank transfers. Carriers can also compensate travellers with travel vouchers. However, you can decide to reject flight vouchers and demand financial compensation instead. The law allows you to demand full compensation for your ticket if the flight has not taken off. Partial or complete refunds may apply to flights cancelled in transit. Be sure to know your rights under the EC 261 to seek compensation for inconveniences suffered during air travel.
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.
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:
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.
If you experience a flight delay or cancellation, here's what you should do:
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