EU Regulation Flight Delay

Few things are as frustrating as a delayed flight when you're trying to get home or away on vacation. Luckily, the European Union guarantees air passengers their rights to claim compensation against airlines in case of delay.

The EC 261/2004 regulation allows passengers to claim compensation for the inconvenience caused by cancellations, delays, being denied boarding or being downgraded. Since it came into effect into 2005, many legal cases have been won, which shows how the law works in practice. Thanks to the European Union legislation, you can claim as much as $700 from airlines if your flight has been delayed for more than 3 hours. However, there are some rules you must know.

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Know your rights when flights are delayed

Any passenger who boards a flight in a European Union country can claim compensation thanks to the EU regulation for flight delays. In practice, this means that even American, Asian, and other international airlines must depart on time when disembarking from a European airport. Passengers whose flight is operated by a European airline that lands in a European Union country are also entitled to compensation.

However, the amount of money they can claim depends on how far they were traveling. The shorter the distance of the flight, the less compensation passengers are entitled to. Only passengers experiencing a delay of over 5 hours can claim the maximum $700, but smaller amounts of compensation are available for shorter distances and delay times.

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 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.


Claiming Compensation for Flight Delays and Cancellations

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:

Claim up to $700 in compensation if your flight has been delayed, canceled, or overbooked within the last 3 years.

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How Much Flight Compensation?

DistanceCompensation
All flights under 1,500 kmUp to €250 per person
Internal EU flights over 1,500 kmUp to €400 per person
Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 - 3,500 kmUp to €400 per person
Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 kmUp 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.


What to Do if Your Flight is Delayed or Canceled

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 canceled.
  • Request food, drinks, and if necessary, free transport and hotel accommodation.
  • If you had a canceled 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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