Few things are as irritating as turning up an airport, anticipating a relaxing break abroad, only to find that your flight has been held up or - even worse - that the flight has been completely canceled. In those cases, travelers can have their vacations ruined, miss vital business meetings, or lose precious moments with family and friends. But there are ways to claim compensation when flight delays or cancelations happen.
This article applies to flight delays and cancellations into and out of the European Union - so we're not talking about flights to the Caribbean or Asia. Even so, millions of Americans fly to Europe every year, and a big number of those travelers experience delays. When that happens, a regulation called EU 261/2004 could become your best friend. This regulation is little known among US fliers, but it offers generous compensation for flight delays and cancelations and has surprisingly wide scope. For example, if your flight to Paris or Rome is delayed by as little as 3 hours, you can claim financial compensation. And the longer the delay, the more money passengers can claim - up to a maximum of around $700.
Cancelations are also covered. If passengers are informed of cancellations less than 14 days before departure, and the flight happened in the past 3 years, there's a very good chance that compensation is available. However, the fault must lie with the airline, so extreme weather probably won't qualify. Nonetheless, this leaves a huge spectrum of situations where airlines have made mistakes and let passengers down. If this sounds like it applies to you, get in touch. AirHelp is always ready to assist with claims under EU 261/2004.
No win, no fee
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:
No win, no fee
|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:
No win, no fee
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