Flight delay compensation
As an airline's passenger, you have rights to be compensated for disruptions to your journey. Many of these rights are granted by EC261, which is a European ruling giving passengers strong protections against any airlines breach of contract.
Airlines are legally obligated to inform passengers about the rights they have, usually shown as a notice at check-in. When it comes to claiming compensation, however, airlines often deny responsibility. That is why we are here to help you enforce your rights.
Quick tip. Use our claim tool to see how much your flight is eligible for.
The amount of compensation given for a delayed flight depends on the distance travelled.
These distances are categorised under EU regulation with corresponding amounts:
- 1500km or less: €250
- 1500km to 3500km: €400
- 3500km or more: €600
Delays are calculated based on the actual arrival time at the flight's final destination, compared with the scheduled time.
A flight which departs late but arrives within three hours of the scheduled time is not classified as a delay which entitles you to reimbursement.
The arrival time at the final destination is defined as when at least one of the doors to the aircraft have been opened. Bear this in mind when calculating your delay, as it can significantly add up.
You could be eligible for flight delay compensation of up to €600 if:
- Your arrival at your destination was three hours (or more) later than scheduled.
- Your flight was from or to an EU country. For EU departures, this applies to all airlines, for arrivals it applies only to EU-based airlines.
- You checked in on time.
- Your flight took place within the past three years.
- The airline is at fault for your delay.
Flights with European countries as their destination, operated by European airlines, are covered by EC261, no matter the departure country.
Food, drinks and travel vouchers provided by the airline do not affect your right to compensation.
The more evidence you have, the better your chances of claiming compensation. If you are delayed:
- Ask about the reason for the flight delay
- Document the delay with photos and a record of communications with the airline.
- Keep receipts of anything you purchase while waiting. Food and drink should be paid for by the airline.
- Overnight delays: the airline must provide a hotel room for the night.
- Take note of the time when you arrive at your final destination (once the aircraft doors open).
Documents For Claiming Compensation: Requirements vary depending on the airline. Try and keep hold of any evidence from the time of the delay. For help filing a claim, just tell us what happened.
If a delay caused you to miss a connecting flight booked as part of one journey, it is the airline's obligation to provide a connecting flight to your final destination. If you booked your connecting flight separately it is unlikely to be covered.
As described above, if your arrival at your final destination is delayed by over 3 hours, you could claim up to €600 through EC261.
For more information, see our Missed Connection Case Study.
If your flight is delayed, the airline must take care of your fundamental rights until the flight is ready to leave. The specifics vary depending on the situation but EC261 states that you can be given:
- Meals and beverages
- A hotel room and return transport to it, if the wait is overnight.
- Access to communication: phone calls, emails, etc.
- Right to reimbursement and re-routing: For delays of five hours or more, a full or partial refund of your original ticket price can be claimed, along with a complimentary flight to your original departure point, where necessary.
- Upgrades or downgrades: Any upgrades on flights provided by the airline must be complimentary- the airline is not allowed to charge for an upgrade that was not requested by the passenger. If your seat is downgraded on the replacement or delayed flight, you are entitled to between 30% and 75% of the original ticket price.
A successful claim under EC261 regulations does not limit your rights to seek additional compensation. Unless you have volunteered to give up your reservation, you can seek additional reimbursement for disruption to your flight. Be aware that any further award may have the original settlement deducted from it.
If the airline offers you flight vouchers as compensation, be sure to check that accepting them does not waive your right to claim more. Under EU regulation, compensation must be paid in cash, by bank transfer or as a cheque, unless you choose to accept vouchers.
Most people are inclined to take the vouchers. That's why it's essential that you check the terms and conditions of accepting them - the actual compensation you're entitled to may be worth more than the vouchers.
Airlines are not liable for delays caused by extraordinary circumstances.
These are outlined in EC261 as occurrences such as severe weather, airport strikes, technical malfunction of airport radar, terrorist acts, political unrest, and so on.
Extraordinary circumstances might not apply:
- If airline staff go on strike - as opposed to airport staff - extraordinary circumstances do not usually apply.
- If severe weather could have been prepared for. While it is classed as an extraordinary circumstance, there are ways to prepare for weather such as ice or snow, which could mean the airline is at fault for its lack of preparation (eg. not having de-icer available).
The easiest way to see whether the airline might be at fault, despite citing extraordinary circumstances, is to check if other aircraft was able to depart on time.
To see if you are eligible to claim, just tell us what flight you were on.
- ClaimAir simplifies the claim process by working with a team of lawyers who specialise in flight compensation.
- We can navigate airlines' dismissive approach to complaints, ensuring your claim is pursued.
- Our team manually assesses each and every case which is sent to us - there is always someone giving personal attention to your case, no matter how small.
- We process your claim with the care it deserves, understanding that each case may be different.
- The Montreal Convention: This treaty grants air passengers rights when faced with flight disruptions, including delays. It protects you from having to pay for hotel stays and other expenses. Over 130 nations, including the USA, are signed up to the Montreal Convention.
- Rights for US Citizens: All flights operating within Europe or flights departing from Europe are covered by EC261. For flights with a non-EU carrier, the airline is not subject to EC261 unless it departs from an EU airport.