European Passenger Rights

The EU regulation EC 261/2004 has written airline passenger rights into law. Practically, this means that European passenger rights are protected from delays, cancelations, enforced class/seat downgrades and being denied boarding. If faced with any of these problems, passengers can claim compensation against the airline.

Any passenger is protected under this legislation if they board a flight in a European Union country. They are also protected if they board a flight outside of the European Union that is operated by a European airline and will land in the EU.

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Know your rights for problems on flights

Thanks to European passenger rights, you can claim compensation in many instances, except in extraordinary circumstances. These include decisions by air traffic control, political instability, extreme weather and security threats. However, aircraft collisions and technical failures are not considered extraordinary circumstances. Most passengers file compensation claims when they return home from vacation.

However, in cases of cancelation and delay, passengers are entitled to what EC 261 describes as 'assistance and care'. Airlines must provide passengers with food and drink if they are stuck at the airport for more than 3 hours. If flights are delayed overnight or passengers are to be rescheduled on a flight the next morning, the airline must provide hotel accommodation. In that instance, airlines are required to provide adequate transport between the hotel and the airport so that passengers can make their flight. Passengers can claim compensation for all delays of over 3 hours. Claiming compensation for flight cancellation can be trickier; airlines do not have to compensate anyone if they warn you 14 days in advance of departure. However, if the flight is cancelled within 14 days of its departure, you are eligible to make a claim.

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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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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