Did you know that if you're flying to and from the EU and you experience a flight disruption during the course of your journey, you're entitled by law to receive benefits and financial compensation? That's because EC 261, a flight compensation regulation, sets out that airlines must pay passengers the compensation they are owed if things don't run smoothly.
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Know your rights when your flight is disrupted
An EC 261 claim can be made when you experience a flight disruption of any kind: if your flight was canceled, delayed, overbooked, or you were denied boarding, or your luggage got lost or damaged. When flight disruptions occur, EC 261 makes it the airline's responsibility to pay out compensation to passengers. EC 261 applies in the 28 EU countries (including the French Antilles, the Azores, and the Canary Islands), so you are only covered by EC 261 if you fly into or out of the EU. If, for example, you fly into the EU on a non-EU-based carrier (e.g. American Airlines), you may not be covered by EC 261.
The easiest way to know if you are covered by EC 261 is to have AirHelp assist you if you need to make a claim. Flights canceled as a result of bad weather or security concerns are named under EC 261 as extraordinary circumstances, as the events are outside of the airline's control. No compensation will be paid for these, but the airline is required to show that it took reasonable measures to prevent delays. If, for example, other airlines were able to effectively avoid disruptions, then the airline may still have to offer financial 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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