US Flight Delays

Unfortunately, US regulations in regards to passenger rights for delayed flights are not as thorough as European or international laws. Nonetheless, there are still some US laws that do protect passengers in situations like a tarmac delay. Moreover, EU air passenger rights do apply in specific scenarios which may involve a US flight delay.

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Rights and Regulations Around US Flight Delays That People Should Know

If passengers in the US experience a tarmac delay of 2 hours or more, they are entitled to care. Passengers must be provided with food, water, bathroom access, as well as medical care. Once the 3-hour delay mark is hit within the US (or 4 hours outside the US with a US airline) passengers must be granted the option to deplane. The only 2 exceptions to this rule are if the pilot has reason to keep passengers boarded for safety, or if the air traffic control suggests that taxiing would disrupt any airport operations.

There are also several scenarios where air passengers from anywhere in the world are protected by EU legislation on a US flight. If your flight departs from the EU and lands in the US, or if you experience a delay flying from the US to the EU on an EU airline, you are covered by European law and may be eligible for up to $700 compensation. It's important to remember that the air carrier passengers book their tickets from may not be the same as the air carrier that is operating the flight. If you think you might be owed compensation, you can use our free Eligibility Checker to find out.

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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