The EU established a regulation known as the EC 261/2004 created to protect passenger's rights in case of any disruptions during their flight, including delays that last longer than three hours. Under these regulations, airlines can be held financially and legally accountable for a flight delay that has not been caused by extraordinary circumstances. According to the EC 261/2004 regulation, you may claim for a refund of your ticket from the airline if flight delays last longer than three hours.
The EC 261/2004 protects passengers that were on a flight that traveled from a European airport or traveled into Europe with a European carrier from anywhere around the world. If your flight experienced a delay that lasted longer than three hours and is covered under these regulations, you may be entitled to financial compensation or a refund of the original ticket. The amount of financial compensation that the passenger may claim for their specific delay depends on several factors, including the length of the delay and the distance of the flight.
If the flight experienced a delay of fewer than three hours, passengers may not claim any compensation or refund. Flight delays that lasted between three hours and five hours may claim up to $700 depending on the distance traveled. For delays longer than five hours, passengers may claim a full or partial refund of their original ticket, as well as a free ticket to the destination of origin, if needed. However, airlines are not held legally or financially responsible if the delay was caused by any extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather, political unrest, or an unruly passenger.
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:
|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:
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