Flight Cancellation Rights
The European Union law established a regulation called EC 261/2004 to protect passengers' rights during any air travel inconvenience. Flight cancellation is one of the scenarios where passengers can claim compensation. If you have experienced an airline canceling your flight at short notice within the past three years, you may be entitled to financial compensation. However, if the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances then the airline is not held financially or legally responsible for the inconvenience.
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All you need to know about flight cancellation rights
In order to claim your rightful compensation for a flight cancellation, the flight has to leave from the EU, or arrive in the EU with a European carrier. Additionally, the airline responsible for the flight must have notified you of the cancellation less than 14 days before the designated departure, the arrival time of any new flight must differ significantly from the original itinerary, you must possess a confirmed reservation for the original flight, and the flight must have occurred in the past three years.
However, if the cancellation was caused by exceptional circumstances then the airline may not be responsible for the inconvenience. These exceptional circumstances include a severe weather change or a security risk. If your experience with a canceled flight meets all the criteria outlined in the regulation EC 261/2004, then you may claim up to $700 per person for your compensation.
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:
How Much Flight Compensation?
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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