Claim flight compensation: everything you need to know
by Craig Goodspeed
Delayed or cancelled flights will always happen and sooner or later you will suffer one of these problems. So, learn all you can do to claim financial compensation for your flight.
A large percentage of travellers who are victims of delayed, cancelled or overbooked flights do not know their Air Passenger Rights or simply do not bother to claim flight compensation for fear of being subjected to a long legal battle or stress.
And who profits from this? The airlines, of course.
That’s why I want to help you to realize that you have the right to complain and demand a flight compensation, provided there are no extraordinary circumstances.
In case compensation is denied and an “extraordinary circumstance” was the reason provided by the airline, it is necessary to understand whether it actually corresponds to the truth of the facts.
I can tell you right away that financial compensation for your delayed or cancelled flight or denied boarding may give you up to €600
Flight compensation in case of a delay or cancellation
In accordance with the European Regulation that protects you as an air passenger – EU 261/04 – I can tell you right away that financial compensation for your delayed or cancelled flight or denied boarding may give you €250, €400 or €600, depending on whether it is a short, medium or long flight.
What you need to know about claiming flight compensation
Though you might already know your passenger rights here are some of my thoughts, a few extra details regarding financial compensation claims for your disrupted flights:
1 – Flight delays of more than 3 hours
The airline may owe you up to €600 if your flight is more than 3 hours late.
Don’t be fooled by the official landing time. The time that counts is when the plane is already parked and opens its doors for the first passenger.
2 – Claiming many years after the delayed or cancelled flight
Check the answer below.
If you need to know more please check this article about How to claim flight compensation for the past years.
3 – More than 5 hours late: get a refund and fly back home if you no longer want to take the flight
If your flight is delayed by more than 5 hours, you may keep waiting or quit and get a refund. If you decide not to take the flight, the airline has to give you a full refund of the flight, a full refund for other flights on the same reservation that you will not use and also a flight back to the airport you originally departed from.
Instead, you can choose to rebook all flights at your convenience without extra costs.
Depending on the reason for the flight disruption, in addition, you will probably also be entitled to financial compensation, unless the airline manages to reduce that 5-hour delay to less than 3 hours upon arrival to your final (not transit) destination.
4 – Flight cancelled: refund or new flight
Passengers whose flight has been cancelled may opt to receive a refund of the price they gave for the ticket or a new flight. Furthermore, they may still request financial compensation.
5 – Downgrading may give you a discount
If the airline puts you in a lower class than the one you paid for (downgrade), you are entitled to claim up to 75% off your ticket, depending on the length of your flight.
6 – Food, drinks, accommodation and transfers after 2 hours of flight delay
If you are at the airport waiting for your flight and more than 2 hours have passed since the scheduled departure time (either because your flight is delayed or because it has been cancelled and you are waiting for a new one), the airline should provide food at meal times and refreshments every 2 hours ahead (be careful about agreements over vouchers).
If they do not, and you have to pay for it out of your own pocket, keep all receipts with these expenses.
In case you still have to stay overnight, the airline should provide you with hotel accommodation, as well as transportation to and from the location.
7 – How to enforce your passenger rights when you barely know them
Well, if any of these scenarios happen to you, the best thing to do is to get expert help so you can claim your rights with the airline and get a flight compensation.
When I suffer a cancelled or delayed flight, though I am well aware of my rights as a passenger, I always choose Aireclaim. They successfully helped me several times, so I recommend their services.
If you go to Aireclaim’s website, in about 2 minutes you will know if you are eligible to receive financial compensation for your delayed or cancelled flight, after providing the requested information regarding your flight(s).
If you are eligible, Aireclaim will immediately provide you with an estimate of the amount you can expect to receive. Then just wait for us to contact you with more news about your process.
Please note that you do not have to pay any upfront fees to hire Aireclaim’s services. In addition, the success of the claim is in their high interest, as Aireclaim will only be paid if win your case.
Let Aireclaim do all the hard work and you just have to relax!
See you on our next flight!
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Craig has a big interest and deep knowledge in the Air Passenger’s Rights. He is a frequent traveller and loves to share guides, tutorials and tips to help people make the most of travel.
Claim compensation for your flight delay or cancellation
Each passenger can receive ticket refund + expenses + compensation up to €600.
AIR PASSENGERS RIGHTS eu
According to European regulation CE 261/2004 and other rulings, an air passenger has 3 cumulative rights:
rerouting or refund
They are cumulative and free. The first is automatic, the 2nd is to be settled, the last must be requested.
Airlines are heavily fined if they fail these obligations.
-The care obligation applies after you wait 2 to 4 hours to depart (depends on the flight distance and other details), when you miss a connecting flight in the same booking, your boarding is denied, your ongoing flight is diverted or your canceled flight is rerouted. Terminates with ticket refund or reschedule or upon your final arrival to your destination or, in same cases, back home.
It consists of: food, taxi/bus, hotel and includes reasonable expenses like gilletes, underwear, urgent medicamenta, battery charger, phone calls, etc. If (only if) the airline does not provide this, you can act on your own, keeping all receipts for future refund by the airline.
-The rerouting / refund Right is due upon some types of cancelation (see other section), or after 5 hours departure delay and you asked to leave, or upon earlier initiative of the airline.
Yours is the choice between being refunded or rerouted using the alternative offered by the airline (probably the earliest). In this case, they will pay all care expenses until you reach your destination, unless you refuse their alternative and choose to postpone your flight.
Extra payments shall never be demanded. In case of class downgrade a partial ticket refund is due.
If the trip lost its purpose (example: you go to a concert) you can ask to be delivered back to your original airport at no extra cost and receive refund for the unused flights.
Or you can ask to change the unused flights to another day.
If your booking includes more connected or return flights, these rules apply to all, as a set.
After this right is used, no more “care” is due (as also after arrival to the last destination in the booking).
-The compensation Right applies in case of:
- delays of more than three hours upon arrival,
- cancellations, unless if you were informed more than 14 days before,
- flight misconnections within the same booking
- refusal to board (unless the blame is yours)
and entitle each passenger to a monetary compensation of €250 to €600 (halved in a few situations) in accordance to the flight distance and other criteria, to be paid by the operating airline, the one that supplied the aircraft and crew (sometimes it is not the same airline that sold your ticket, due to codeshare agreements).
For all 3 rights:
-All flights inside the European Union are included. Also other flights operated by EU airlines as long as they depart or arrive to an European airport. If the airline is not European, only flights departing from an EU airport are included.
Obviously, EU laws do not apply to flights starting and ending outside EU, even if the airline is European.
-Besides EU countries, Swiss, Norway and Iceland also adhered to this regulation. Other countries might have similar regulations (Canada, India, USA, Turkey,…) not covered by our services.
-All passengers have these rights, even those that are not EU citizens and/or live outside the EU.
-Children are entitled too unless they travel for free.
-Care and Compensation are due to you, the victim. Ticket refund is usually sent to whom payed the ticket, though the law says it should be paid to the passenger.
-Travel agents and booking companies are out of these obligations. Some try to help passengers however they are very inefficient claiming compensations because this is out of their scope (some forward us those problems).
Many situations are not covered by ruling 261/04 (examples: the opposite of a delay, the advanced flight; multi-flight bookings partially outside EU). Others are not clear (example: “extraordinary circumstances”, “flight distance”, etc). Some posterior rulings and judgments made things clearer, but still there is a lot of controversy about many situations, that airlines try to use to avoid payments.
In case of compensation (not boarding denial, rerouting/refund or care) the 261/2004 ruling exempts the airline from the obligation to pay in special situations like bad weather, union strikes (outside the company), terrorist acts, security issues, air traffic control decisions, and some other not so clear situations.
This allows airlines to reject most claims and require deep expertise to investigate and contest. Frequently, our audit shows that the alleged circumstances are not true and our conclusions are later confirmed in Court or by the aeronautical enforcement body.
These rights can be claimed during the next 2 to 10 years, depending on the country, most usually 3 or 5 years. Try to remember your past flight problems, then claim.
We can check your case, just email us at email@example.com and tell us your story. We will inform your rights and your best solution (no payment, no bureaucracy).
Or you can check yourself here, then file your claim if you wish.
|< 1500 km||250€|
|1500 – 3500 km||400€|
|> 3500km||600€ if 1 airport is not EU
400€ if inside EU
As ruling 261/04 failed to clearly address many points, it is usually accepted (tacitly or forced by posterior judgements) that:
For every 2 hours delay some beverage should be offered to passengers unless it delays the boarding itself.
In case of misconnection the delay is measured upon the final destination and compensation is due only if all flights belong to the same booking.
In such case, distance is measured between first and last airport (but many people consider the total of all legs should be used, other consider the actual flown path because the law says “flight distance”).
Time of arrival is the time of the first opening of an aircraft (passenger) door.
If diverted or rerouted to another airport the passenger must be offered land or air transport to the original destination airport.
Technical problems are not special circumstances outside the control of the airline.
Though not included in ruling 261/04 this situation was addressed and ruled by some Court decisions, being usually accepted that:
When booking, it is the airline’s responsability to allow enough time clearance between 2 flights booked together, so compensation is due even for delays in the 1st flight less than 3 hours, provided the passenger arrives more than 3 hours late after rerouting.
In such case, after rerouting, the final arrival to the last airport is used to compute distance and time delay relative to the original flight, as if all flown flights were only one.
Then all other rules (see above) about flight delay apply.
In case the flight is cancelled, passengers have both these rights:
Reimbursement of the ticket price corresponding to the part of the journey that was not journeyed, as well as the part already journeyed if the purpose of the flight is no longer possible or existent
Free rerouting(not necessarily by air route) as soon as possible or at another time if the passenger prefers, either to the final destination or to the original airport of departure.
Compensation according to the flight distance:
|< 1500 km||250€|
|1500 – 3500 km||400€|
|> 3500km||600€ if 1 airport is not EU
400€ if inside EU
However, if an alternative flight is offered arriving earlier, at the same time or later a few hours, the compensation is halved :
|Distance||Intra CE||Extra CE|
|< 1500 km||< 2 Hours||125€||< 2 Hours||125€|
|1500 – 3000 km||< 3 Hours||200€||< 3 Hours||200€|
|> 3500km||< 3 Hours||200€||< 4 Hours||300€|
Note that this only applies to rerouting in sequence of cancellation, not to delays or other situations.
There are some exceptions. Compensation is not due if :
The cancellation was informed to the passenger 2 weeks or more prior to the flight.
The passenger was informed between 1 and 2 weeks before and was offered alternative flight departing less than 2 hours earlier or arriving no more than 4 hours later compared to the original flight.
The passenger was informed less than 1 week before and the airline provides a flight leaving up to 1 hour earlier and arriving no more than 2 hours later.
Some companies sell more tickets than seats available on the aircraft, in the statistical expectation that some passengers don’t show. Companies also reroute passengers from cancelled and overbooked flights to other flights possibly exceeding seat count, resulting in denial of board.
In case of boarding denial, the passenger is entitled to compensation regardless of the cause.
Usually airlines request voluntary passengers to cede their seats and take a later flight, possibly offering some hotel and/or food vouchers or other incentives. Their offer is probably inferior to the compensation that will then be renounced, so usually your better option is to refuse an agreement and contact us.
Then you will have the compensation, plus the replacement flight, plus food and hotel until you reach your destination.
As the law allows airlines to reject payments in special cases, but failed to clearly specify such conditions, many airlines permanently abuse of this, specially when facing a passenger that claims directly, without support of an expert company like Aireclaim.
This works very well and saves them millions: Airlines just deny compensation based on technical arguments accepted (or not) by the UE laws, then 99% passengers will not be able to verify or contest (as we can). Even if they could, surely they would not enforce their rights (as we would) due to tremendous troubles, required know-how and high lawyer+court expenses.
However there are many legitimate situations, when airlines are not required to pay compensations, named “exceptional circumstances”. They do not apply to your other rights (care and refund/rerouting) and never apply in case of boarding denial.
DO NOT waste your time claiming if any point in this list applies to you (but don’t believe everything the attendants tell you):
- the cause was (and you are sure) bad weather, terrorism, Air Traffic Control or strikes (but not strikes inside the airline).
- the delay upon arrival was less than 3 hours;
- the cancellation was informed to you 2 or more weeks before the scheduled flight;
- your flight to EU departed from a non-EU country and the operating airline (the one that supplied the aircraft and crew) is not based in EU;
- your missed connection flight does not share the same booking with the late flight;
- you arrived late to the gate or missed some documents.
Technical problems are one of the most frequent arguments used by airlines to refuse compensation. That’s because, unlike weather for example, they are very difficult to be contested by the passenger or his lawyer. However we can easily enforce such payments with almost 100% success rate.
Furthermore, please note that airlines have no obligation to refund expenses:
- without proving document;
- after final arrival, including transport to home, or extra parking fee;
- missed hotel, concert, etc that you booked and could not use;
- lost working days or bad image that you suffered in your job;
- unapproved replacement flights in another airline;
- care expenses after you accepted ticket refund or postponed the flight (this is one of the reasons you should not rush claiming to the airline, but get our help instead).
For these kind of expenses we suggest that you check if you have an insurance (credit card, travel assistance, etc).
Ruling 261/2004 does not address these situations because it intends to compensate problems like these, so they would be compensated twice.
Anyway, all legal systems worldwide under certain conditions enforce a redress obligation (usually for 3-6 years) to those who cause prejudices, so you can still claim in Court under common law if you hire a lawyer, though your chances are probably low.
We do not handle the mentioned cases because we are highly specialized on ruling 261/2004. We also do not handle luggage claims.
Do you wanna know more? Contact Us
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