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Air Passenger Law
What are the extraordinary circumstances?
Extraordinary circumstances refer to any events outside of the airline’s control that have resulted in a flight disruption. These are situations where a disruption could not have been avoided, even if the airline had taken all reasonable measures.
Extraordinary circumstances include:
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- Strikes by airport employees or air traffic control
- Political unrest
- Extreme weather conditions
- Security risks
- Emergency health conditions
I missed my connecting flight - am I entitled to compensation?
If you missed a connecting flight, you are entitled to compensation if your situation meets one of the following criteria:
- You had one or more connecting flights under the same booking.
- A delayed flight causes you to miss your connection and arrive at your final destination 3 or more hours later than scheduled.
- If the delay or cancellation was not due to an extraordinary circumstance.
You can check if you are entitled to compensation for your disrupted flight via our website, free of charge.Was this information helpful?
Does weather affect my eligibility?
Yes, flights disrupted by extreme weather conditions are not eligible for compensation. Airlines may cancel or delay flights if environmental conditions could affect their passengers’ safety. Extreme weather falls under extraordinary circumstances and is, therefore, beyond the airline’s control.Was this information helpful?
My flight was canceled - am I entitled to compensation?
If the airline informs you of your flight cancellation less than 14 days ahead of your scheduled departure, then you are entitled to compensation — provided the cancellation isn’t due to an extraordinary circumstance.
You can check if you are entitled to compensation for your canceled flight via our website, free of charge.Was this information helpful?
My flight was delayed - am I entitled to compensation?
You are entitled to compensation for your delayed flight if:
– Your flight was either delayed by 3 hours or more or was canceled less than 14 days before it was due to depart.
– Your flight was set to depart from the EU or was on an EU airline arriving in the EU.
– You had a confirmed flight reservation.
– The disruption occurred within the last several years. Time limits for a claim do vary based on country. You can find out more here.
– If you took a replacement flight and your new arrival time was significantly different than from that of your original flight.
– The delay wasn’t due to extraordinary circumstances out of the airline’s control.
You can check if you are entitled to compensation for your delayed flight via our website, free of charge.Was this information helpful?
Are child passengers eligible for compensation too?
Children are entitled to compensation after a flight disruption if they have either a reserved seat or have paid the full price of an adult airfare. For any other situation, please submit your claim which will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.Was this information helpful?
What if the airline already offered me compensation?
Usually, compensation that is offered by the airline will be lower than the full amount stipulated in EU Regulation 261/2004. If the airline offered you travel vouchers or air miles, you could still ask AirHelp to claim cash on your behalf.Was this information helpful?
Can I get the compensation for delayed/canceled/overbooked flight if I have already accepted the voucher offered by the airline?Yes – if the voucher is less than the compensation amount you are entitled to. For example, if you are entitled to €600 and the airline gives you a €250 voucher to be used with that airline, you are still entitled to the remaining compensation amount of €350. You can also choose to return the voucher and ask for the full compensation amount in cash. If you were on a flight that was overbooked and the airline offered you a voucher and a later flight in exchange for your reservation, and you accepted, you are not entitled to compensation according to EC 261/2004. That’s because you willingly gave up your reservation and entered into a new agreement with the airline.Was this information helpful?
Can I get the compensation according to Regulation EC 261/2004 if I have already received assistance from the airline (meals, refreshments, hotel accommodation, etc.)?
Yes. The air carriers are obliged to offer assistance in all the situations outlined in EC 261/2004. In addition to this, you can still claim compensation.Was this information helpful?
Can I get compensation if the airline informed me about the cancellation on the same day that the flight should have departed?
Yes, you have the right to compensation from the air carrier, unless you were offered re-routing that allowed you to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach your final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival depending on distance.Was this information helpful?
Can I claim compensation from an airline that no longer exists?
Theoretically, yes. But AirHelp is unable to handle claims relating to airlines that no longer exist. Unfortunately the likelihood of receiving any compensation in these cases is very small. Lots of other people have probably already emptied the airline of available funds.Was this information helpful?
Can I get compensation for flights with low cost companies and/or charter flights?
All flights are eligible for compensation, as long as they fall within the geographic boundaries stated in EC 261/2004.Was this information helpful?
My flight was delayed less than three hours but I missed my connecting flight. Can I claim compensation?
For EU flights, the answer is most likely “yes.” Under European regulation EC 261, eligibility for compensation is based on the length of delay at your final destination. If your missed connection makes you more than three hours late overall, you should be eligible, provided all of your connecting flights were part of the same flight reservation, under the same booking reference number.Was this information helpful?
What are the extraordinary circumstances that are beyond the airlines’ control?
The airline is not liable under EU regulation EC 261 and other similar air passenger laws if the flight disruption was due to “extraordinary circumstances.” These are scenarios which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken and include situations like medical emergencies, strikes initiated by airport staff or air traffic control, serious adverse weather conditions, and Air Traffic Control restrictions, to name a few. In addition, events that qualify as “Force majeure,” such as wars and riots, as well as “Acts of God”—hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.—also exempt the airline from liability.Was this information helpful?
Am I entitled to compensation?
If you recently experienced a delayed, cancelled, or overbooked flight, you may be eligible for compensation. However, the laws differ quite a bit based on where you’re flying. Here’s a breakdown:
If you’re flying within the US
Flights within the US are only eligible for compensation if they are overbooked, you then are denied boarding, and the rerouted flight they put you on gets you to your destination one hour late or more.
If you’re flying to or from Europe
Flights to or from Europe are eligible for compensation if they are delayed, cancelled, or overbooked due to a situation they could control. Situations that the airlines couldn’t control (such as a weather event) are exempt from compensation.Was this information helpful?
Your website says I’m not entitled to compensation. What can I do?
If our website tells you that your claim for compensation is ineligible, it is likely that it does not meet one of the conditions covered by AirHelp.
We can help claim compensation in the following situations:
- Delayed or canceled EU flights or boarding denials covered under EC 261
- Boarding denials caused by overbooking on US flights
However, the laws which cover your right to compensation are complex. There are many exclusions. For example if your flight was disrupted by “extraordinary circumstances”, you are not entitled to compensation. Our website will tell you your claim is ineligible if we believe you fall under one of these exclusions.
You can read more about Air Passenger Rights and when you are entitled to compensation here.
If you believe your claim has been assessed wrongly please contact us via our contact form to discuss the matter further.Was this information helpful?
What can I do if an airline isn't responding to me?
If you have tried to contact an airline for assistance with any problem, our first piece of advice is to keep trying. We know from our own experience that airline customer service agents get busy, especially during peak times like the summer and Christmas holidays.
If the airline still isn’t responding to repeated messages you do have a couple of options:
For some issues you can involve a third party, like AirHelp. We can help passengers who are trying to contact airlines for compensation following delayed or cancelled flights. With our years of experience, we often are able to demand a response from the airline, even after customers have found their own requests were ignored.
You can also contact the aviation authorities which govern your airline.
If you’re flying within Europe you can look up your airline’s national enforcement body here.
We’ve also listed some of the biggest non-EU airline national enforcement bodies here:
Australia Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) https://www.casa.gov.au/ Brazil National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) http://www.anac.gov.br/en Canada Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) https://otc-cta.gc.ca/eng Russia Federal Air Transport Agency https://favt.ru/ USA Federal Aviation Administration https://www.faa.gov/Was this information helpful?
What are your rights when an airline changes your flight in advance?
You’ll need to check the t&cs of your ticket for the answer to this – because there are no international laws which cover your rights when airlines change their schedule.
In general, most airline t&cs will offer you a full refund, or the option to change to another flight whenever there has been a “significant” schedule change.
What counts as a “significant” schedule change? That is also up to the airlines to decide. For some it means any departure time that has changed by two or more hours. While for other airlines it is a departure time that has changed by 12 or more hours. Again, this definition should be in your t&cs.
If your flight has been cancelled, and then you have been moved to a different flight, this situation is covered by law. In Europe, regulation EC 261 states that if your flight has been cancelled you are entitled to either a full refund, or a new flight to your destination. In addition, if your flight is cancelled less than 14 days before departure you may also be entitled to additional compensation. Read our guidance on cancelled flight compensation for more information.Was this information helpful?
Can I claim any extra expenses that resulted from the flight disruption? (Hotel, new ticket, food, etc.)
AirHelp currently covers flight disruptions that are clearly defined by both EU law EC 261 and by the US Code of Federal Regulations. This includes defined compensation amounts for delays, cancellations, and boarding denials for EU flights and boarding denials due to overbooking on US flights.
While passengers can personally file additional claims directly with the airline for expenses due to flight disruptions, the law is less clear on the details, leaving much more of the process up to the airline’s discretion. Passengers must be able to document the expenses and prove that the airline is liable.
Travellers on international flights can file a claim with the airline under the Montreal Convention for reimbursement of damages, including incurred expenses due to flight disruptions. And EU passengers should take note that EU law requires airlines to cover expenses for meals and refreshments at the time of the disruption, under many circumstances.Was this information helpful?
Do connecting flights make a difference in terms of eligibility for flight disruptions?
In some cases, your flight disruption may be covered thanks to connecting flights, even if it would not normally be eligible for compensation on its own.
One example is if you are flying from Europe to the United States on a US airline, with a stop in the US. The first leg of the trip, from the EU to the US, would obviously be eligible for compensation under EU regulation EC 261. But the second flight—between two US cities—might also be covered, if the two flights are with the same carrier and part of the same flight reservation (under one booking reference number).
There is more information on our Know Your Rights page for EC 261, but if you have any doubts or questions about your disrupted flight’s eligibility, the fastest way to check is to use the AirHelp eligibility check and enter your flight details.Was this information helpful?
Are delayed flights eligible for compensation?
The answer depends on your flight details.
EU flights – EU flights should be eligible for compensation if the flight and the delay meet some basic criteria:
- The flight must be arriving at an EU airport on a European carrier or departing from an EU airport on any airline.
- The delay must be greater than 3 hours at the passenger’s final destination.
US domestic flights – Delayed flights from one US city to another with US carriers are not usually eligible for compensation.
International flights – Flights from one country to another, even within the EU, may be eligible for expenses or damages resulting from the delay.
There is more information on our Know Your Rights pages, but if you have any doubts or questions about your disrupted flight’s eligibility, the fastest way to check is to use the AirHelp eligibility check and enter your flight details.Was this information helpful?
How do I know if I am entitled to compensation and how much am I entitled to?
You can check if you are entitled to compensation for your disrupted flight(s) and how much are you entitled to via our eligibility check. It takes only a few minutes and is completely free of charge.Was this information helpful?
I was denied boarding - Can I file a claim for compensation?
If you were denied boarding because the flight was overbooked, you are entitled to compensation, and you can file a claim.
Unfortunately, if you were denied boarding for a reason that was under your control, such as showing up late at the boarding gate, not having correct travel documents, or security-related matters, then you aren’t entitled to compensation.
If you think you have a valid reason why you couldn’t make your flight, we recommend that you contact the airline directly and explain your case. Sometimes, even though the airline isn’t legally obliged to pay, they might extend a different form of compensation (vouchers, discounts etc.) as a form of “goodwill”.Was this information helpful?
My flight was delayed. Can I claim compensation?
If you reach your final destination with a delay of three hours or more, you are entitled to compensation between €125 and €600 – that is, unless the airline can prove that the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances (weather conditions, strikes by airport staff or air traffic control, security measures). You are also entitled to care by the airline (phone call, refreshments, meal, accommodation, transportation to the place of accommodation) if the delay is:
- 2 hours or more for flights of 1,500 km or less;
- 3 hours or more for longer flights within the EU or for other flights of between 1,500 km and 3,500 km;
- 4 or more for flights of over 3,500 km outside the EU.
If the delay is more than five hours, and you decide not to continue your journey, you are also entitled to have your ticket reimbursed and be flown back to where you originally started your journey.Was this information helpful?
My flight was canceled. Can I claim compensation?You may be entitled to compensation between €125 and €600 depending on the distance of your flight and the total delay at your final destination. If you were informed about the cancellation at least 14 days before the flight, or if the airline can prove that the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances (weather conditions, strikes by airport staff or air traffic control, security measures) you are not entitled to compensation. In addition to compensation, the airline must offer you the choice between:
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- reimbursement of your ticket within seven days
- re-routing to your final destination under similar conditions
Can the airline reduce the amount of compensation?In some cases the airline is allowed to reduce the compensation by 50%. But this happens only if you were offered re-routing and the arrival time at the final destination did not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked:
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- by 2 hrs in case of flights up to 1500 km
- by 3 hrs in case of flights between 1500 – 3500 km
- by 4 hrs in case of flights over 3500 km.
How much am I entitled to?
The amount of compensation depends on the distance of your flight.
DELAY (at final destination after potential rebooking and/or re-routing) Distance less than 2 hours more than 2 hours more than 3 hours more than 4 hours never arrived Denied boarding* € 250 € 250 € 250 € 250 € 250 < 1500 km € 400 € 400 € 400 € 400 € 400 1500 km < 3500 km € 600 € 600 € 600 € 600 € 600 3500 km < Delayed € 0 € 0 € 250 € 250 € 250 < 1500 km € 0 € 0 € 400 € 400 € 400 1500 km < 3500 km € 0 € 0 € 300 € 600 € 600 3500 km < Cancelled** € 125 € 250 € 250 € 250 € 250 < 1500 km € 200 € 200 € 400 € 400 € 400 1500 km < 3500 km € 300 € 300 € 300 € 600 € 600 3500 km <
* The compensation is due immediately and irrespective of any re-routing offered.
** The compensation may be halved by the airline in case the delay, after offered and accepted re-routing, was less than 2, 3 or 4 hours depending on the length of the flight.Was this information helpful?
Do I have to be a European citizen?
No. You can claim compensation even if you’re not a European citizen. Your citizenship does not impact your rights under EC 261/2004.Was this information helpful?
Why should I be compensated?
Increased mobility throughout Europe has created the need for common air passenger rights. EU Regulation 261/2004 ensures that airlines compensate their passengers when they cause serious inconvenience to their customers. Your time is precious!Was this information helpful?
Which countries and airlines are subject to EU passenger rights?
The flight passenger rights stated in the EU regulation (EC) 261/2004 apply if you are leaving the EU with any airline, or arriving in the EU with an airline registered in the EU (or Iceland, Norway or Switzerland). AirHelp helps all air passengers from all countries who have experienced delayed, cancelled or overbooked flights that are subject to this EU regulation.Was this information helpful?
How far back can I get compensation?
If you have been on a delayed, cancelled or overbooked flight within the last three years you are entitled to compensation and can send your flight ticket information to AirHelp. We take care of the rest.Was this information helpful?
My airline refused to compensate me after my disrupted flight - what can I do?
If you think you’re entitled to compensation for your flight problem and the airline won’t do anything about it, not to worry! We can possibly still help you. File a claim for your flight to see if we can get that compensation for you. We’ll even take the airline to court if they don’t meet their legal obligation to you.Was this information helpful?
Can I claim compensation from a flight that was paid by my employer?
The compensation follows the passenger – not who paid for the ticket. If you’re late on a business trip, you as a passenger can claim compensation and damages.Was this information helpful?