European Flight Delay Compensation
Was your European flight delayed? Under European legislation- EC 261 – you could be entitled to claim European flight delay compensation of up to $700 per passenger.
Continue reading to discover how AirHelp can help you make a claim.
Are You Entitled to Claim European Flight Delay Compensation?
- Your flight departed from a country within the EU (from any airline), or
- Your flight took off from outside the EU and landed in a country within the EU with a European airline , and
- With either scenario, your flight must arrive at your final destination with a delay of 3 hours or more.
- You have a valid ticket and booking confirmation.
- You checked in on time for your flight (you should check-in at least 45 minutes before departure).
- The airline has provided you with food, beverages, hotel accommodation or travel vouchers - you are still entitled to European flight delay compensation if you satisfy the listed criteria.
N.B. the following types of airline tickets or trips qualify under EC 261 for European Flight Delay Compensation:
- Low-cost airline tickets
- Business trips
- Child’s paid ticket
- Free or reduced ticket under a promotional programme or customer loyalty
In What Circumstances are You Not Entitled to Claim European Flight Delay Compensation?
Under the EU regulation, the following flight disruptions do not qualify for European flight delay compensation. Consequently, the airline can avoid liability if-
- The reason behind the flight disruption can be connected to ‘extraordinary circumstances’. This means the flight issue is beyond the airline’s control and as a result, is not their responsibility.
Extraordinary circumstances include political instability, extreme weather conditions, medical emergencies, air traffic control restrictions, acts of terrorism and the like.
N.B. In 2018, the European Court of Justice made an important ruling in this area which stated that internal ‘wildcat strikes’ by flight staff do not qualify as extraordinary circumstances. This means that airlines are obligated to compensate travelers for flight delays when an airline strike is the cause of the flight disruption.
- You are traveling on a free or reduced ticket that isn’t available to the public directly or indirectly.
- You didn’t check in on time.
How Much European Flight Delay Compensation are You Entitled to?
Once your flight arrives at its final destination 3 hours later than scheduled, you are entitled to European flight delay compensation.
The amount of compensation you are entitled to for a disrupted flight rests on 2 factors:
- Flight distance
- Length of flight delay
Our chart makes it easier to see how much you’re entitled to:
|Length of delay|
|Less than 3 hours||3 - 4 hours||More than 4 hours||Never arrived||Distance|
|€ -||€250||€250||€250||All flights 1,500 km or less|
|€ -||€400||€400||€400||Internal EU flights over 1,500 km|
|€ -||€400||€400||€400||Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km|
|€ -||€300||€600||€600||Non-internal EU flight over 3,500 km|
Your Rights Under EC 261
If your flight has been delayed and meets the criteria of EC 261, you are entitled to claim European flight delay compensation.
0 – 2 Hours
Timing is essential here because between 0 to 2 hours of your flight being delayed, EC 261 does not offer any rights or compensation to the passenger.
Over 2 Hours
Right to Care
However, under this EU legislation, once the dealy goes over the 2-hour mark, you have additional rights and the airline must offer you. Airlines should offer you a ‘right of care’ which includes:
Food and Beverages
Accommodation when necessary (including transport to take you to and from the hotel to the airport)
Access to phone calls and/or emails
N.B. If the airline neglects to take care of you and you have to pay out of your own pocket for the above needs, e.g. to buy food and drink, make sure you keep your receipts. This is so you can ask the airline to reimburse you afterwards.
Over 5 Hours
Right to Full or Partial Refund
Right to Reimbursement or Re-Routing
(as well as European Flight Delay Compensation)
If your delay is over 5 hours, in addition to European Flight Delay Compensation for your loss of time, you are also entitled to a full or partial refund of your original ticket and a return flight to your departure point.
Upgrading and Downgrading
If the airline offers you an alternative flight which happens to be an upgrade, the airline is not allowed to charge you extra to make up the costs.
However, if the alternative flight you choose is of a lower class, you can get a reimbursement of between 30-75% of the initial cost you paid.
European Flight Delay Compensation or Vouchers
If you’ve have had the misfortune to suffer a flight delay, it’s very likely that you were offered flight vouchers.
At the time, it may seem like a good deal to be offered a flight voucher so you can make some progress on your trip.
However, be sure to read the fine print of the flight voucher. By taking it you could waive your right to claim for European flight delay compensation.
The regulation states that a passenger can accept to choose travel vouchers instead of compensation, so be sure that, that is actually what you want to do.
The regulation also states that compensation should be paid in cash. So if you choose a travel voucher, make sure that the amount is equal to the cash amount you’re entitled to receive from the airline.
the Regulation states that the compensation should be paid in cash. If you choose to accept the vouchers, make sure that the amount is at least equal to the cash amount you are legally entitled to.
To make that decision, we advise that before you accept the travel voucher, you find out how much cash compensation you are entitled to instead.
In the end, the choice is yours.
Which Delayed Flights are Covered Under EC 261?
Generally, most routes that operate in Europe are protected under EC 261.
This includes EU airspace as well as countries like Norway, Switzerland and the ‘outer-most’ regions like Guadeloupe, Canary Islands and French Guiana and Martinique.
Missed Connecting Flights Due To Flight Delay
Sometimes flying from point A to B is not direct. You may have different stops/legs along the way. So if you miss a connection it can turn your trip upside down.
The good news is that if you miss your connecting flight because of a flight delay, the airline is responsible for getting you a replacement, so you can get to your final destination.
Furthermore, you could be entitled to compensation under EC 261. To discover how much you could be entitled to and what criteria your flight needs to satisfy – read more information about missed connection flights here.
What are Delay Compensation Rights for US Citizens?
EC 261 does not just apply to flights operating in Europe. Under EC 261, regardless of where you live, if you’re flying from America (for example) into Europe on an European airline or flying from a European airport (to America), you can claim for European flight delay compensation.
So, for example, the following trips are eligible under EC 261:
London to Los Angeles with British Airways
Los Angeles to London with British Airways
London to Los Angeles with American Airlines
Let’s break it down easier with this chart:
|Itinerary||EU Air Carrier||Non-EU Air Carrier|
|From inside the EU to inside the EU||Covered||Covered|
|From inside the EU to outside the EU||Covered||Not Covered|
|From outside the EU to outside the EU||Not Covered||Not Covered|
Time Limits and European Flight Delay Compensation
If you would like to know if your flight that was delayed a few years back is eligible for European flight delay compensation, you may not have run out of time to make a claim.
Whether your flight was delayed, canceled or overbooked the time limit to make a claim varies from country to country.
For example in:
- UK, the time limit is 6 years
- Spain, the time limit is 5 years
- Germany, the time limit is 3 years
Flight Delay Rights in US vs Europe
Unfortunately, as of yet, the US does not have a regulation like EC 261 that is devoted to enforcing airlines to compensate passengers when they are at fault.disruption.
However, in the US when your plane is stuck on the tarmac, there are comprehensive laws as to what rights passengers have and how airlines ought to act in this situation. You can read more about your US rights when you’re stuck on the tarmac here.
The Montreal Convention – Delayed Flights
The Montreal Convention is a treaty that was signed by the USA and 130 nations. It regulates air passenger rights when flight delays and other flight mishaps occur.
Under this treaty, if your flight is delayed you could be entitled to damages for the costs you had to pay for the inconvenience.
For example, if your flight was delayed and you had to buy emergency items to get you through the night (e.g. toothbrush and paste), the airline is obligated to reimburse you for this.
Read more about the Montreal Convention and what you are entitled to here.
How to File Your European Flight Delay Compensation Claim
Flight delayed and stuck at the airport? Follow our easy step-by-step guide to make the best of the situation:
- Keep your important travel documents, e.g. your boarding pass.
- Find out why the flight was delayed.
- Hold onto proof of the delay.
- Make a record of when you arrived at your final destination.
- Don’t sign anything or accept any offers that may waive your rights.
- Ask the airline to pay for your meals and refreshments.
- If you require accommodation, ensure the airline provides it for you (and transport back and forth).
- Keep your receipts if your delayed flight ends up costing you extra money.
How to Make a European Flight Delay Compensation Claim With AirHelp
The first step in the compensation process is to find out if you’re eligible. It is this step that often deters passengers because the thought of trudging through legal jargon in what could end up being a drawn-out process is not appealing.
This is why you should turn to AirHelp. We help you find out if you have the right to claim, just fill in your flight information in our free and easy-to-use flight delay compensation calculator and we’ll determine if you have a valid claim against the airline or not. If you are eligible, we’ll take care of the rest.
Put your details in our European flight delay compensation claim checker and start your claim now.
Why Choose AirHelp to Make Your European Flight Delay Compensation Claim?
AirHelp makes the claim process simple. Fill in a few details about your flight, tell us what happened, and our team of expert claim agents will handle the rest.
We’ll check the details of your flight and build a case for compensation. And we’ll handle all the negotiations with the airline on your behalf.
It’s our mission to help air passengers. Since 2013 we’ve helped over 10 million travelers who were inconvenienced by flight disruptions.
Whether it’s flight delays, flight cancellations, missed connections, or denied boarding — our team of air passenger rights experts help travelers around the world get compensation when their travel doesn’t go according to plan.
Claiming European Flight Delay Compensation with the airline or a lawyer can be stressful:
- Confusing legal jargon (air passenger rights regulations are complex)
- Lengthy and tricky process (paperwork and calls)
- Loss of more money (e.g. lawyer’s costs)
- Small chance of success (easier for airlines to ignore passengers’ claim request)
But if you use AirHelp to get your European Flight Delay Compensation Claim:
- We simplify the legislation and educate you on your air passenger right
- Our easy-to-use online eligibility checker quickly lets you know if you’re eligible to compensation
- We’ve already helped more than 10 million passengers understand their rights