Have you ever experienced serious delays when flying between the US and Europe? If so, you may well be entitled to compensation without being aware of it. Thanks to a little-known piece of European legislation, American travelers headed to Europe can enjoy a range of rights and benefits.
The regulation we're talking about is known as EU 261/2004. That may sound boring, but it should be required reading for all those who experience American flight delays. The legislation aims to provide clear penalties for airlines that let their customers down, whether they cancel flights or leave passengers waiting for hours. And these penalties can be paid as cash compensation totaling up to $700 - so it's a serious tool for all travelers to know about. 261/2004 states that any flights arriving in the EU that are operated by European airlines (as well as associated countries like Norway and Iceland) are covered.
If these flights are delayed by 3 hours or more, the airline involved is liable to pay compensation to any affected travelers. This includes any flights that start in the US and land in the EU that are run by European carriers. However, delays must have taken place in the past three years, and they must have been partially the fault of the airline. Usually, events like hurricanes, snowstorms, or political unrest won't be suitable reasons to claim. But even then, airlines can make errors in responding to events, and there could be scope to claim compensation. Every case is different, but passengers who experience American flight delays should always investigate whether they are covered. So feel free to contact AirHelp to assess your compensation options.
AirHelp is the world's largest air passenger rights organization, here to help air travelers secure compensation for delayed, canceled, 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 canceled 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.
Canceled flights: you may be eligible for compensation if your flight was canceled 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:
|All flights under 1,500 km||Up to €250 per person|
|Internal EU flights over 1,500 km||Up to €400 per person|
|Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 - 3,500 km||Up to €400 per person|
|Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 km||Up to €600 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 Calculator.
If you experience a flight delay or cancellation, here's what you should do:
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