Delayed flight compensation

Delayed flights are more common than you might think. If you happen to experience a delay, know that you can get compensation for under EU Regulation (EC) No 261/2004.

If your flight is delayed by more than 2 hours, the airline must provide you with food and refreshments. Also, there are additional care services such as telephone calls, internet, and hotel accommodation that the airline must also provide you with in the event of a delay. If a delay takes more than 3 hours, you have the right to claim compensation for the delay, provided that the airline is responsible for the delay. You can get up to €600 in compensation.

Requirements to receive compensation for a delayed flight

You must meet specific requirements to be eligible for compensation for your delayed flight. These requirements include flight origin and extraordinary circumstances.

To be eligible for compensation, your flight must begin inside the EU or land in the EU, but in the latter case, the carrier must be an EU-based airline. According to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, flights to and from Norway, Iceland and Switzerland are also eligible for compensation. It must be noted that you have the right to receive flight compensation regardless of whether you travel on a charter, scheduled, or low-cost flight. What is more, is that package holidays can also be compensated.

Nevertheless, airlines can deny claims for compensation citing extraordinary circumstances. Extraordinary circumstances are strikes, political unrest, severe weather conditions, airport operations failures, aircraft manufacturing defects, birds flying into aeroplane engines, and similar disruptions. However, airline staff strikes do not fall under extraordinary circumstances.

Airlines can also reject claims for delayed flight compensation if you arrive at the departure gate late. Furthermore, airlines can reject your claim if you bought your flight ticket with a special tariff (for example, an airline staff tariff,) which is not available to other customers directly.

To summarize, you have to meet certain requirements to claim compensation for your delayed flight. It’s also important that you file your compensation claim as soon as possible because time limits for filing a claim vary between countries. See the table below for when your claim for compensation is valid.

Compensation claims are valid for: Compensation claims are invalid for:
Flights that begin inside the EU Flight disruptions that occur due to extraordinary circumstances. Flight staff strikes excluded
Flights that land in the EU (if the carrier is an EU-based airline) Passengers that arrived late to the departure gate
Flights in Norway, Iceland and Switzerland Passengers that bought special tariff tickets
Charter, scheduled and low-cost flights and also package holidays
Passengers that applied for compensation before the end of the claim submission date in a particular country

Delayed flight compensation amount

If your flight arrived 3 hours later than it was originally planned, then, based on the flight distance, you can claim a specific amount that may be the following:

  • €250, if the distance is less than 1500 km.
  • €400, if the distance is 1500 – 3500 km.
  • €600, if the distance is greater than 3500 km.

Care services

Airlines are required to provide you with care service (even in extraordinary circumstances) under conditions that include the following:

Inside the EU Outside the EU
Flight distance less than 1500 km with a delay of more than 2 hours Flight distance less than 1500 km with a delay of more than 2 hours
Flight distance less than 1500 km with a delay of more than 3 hours Flight distance less than 1500 km with a delay of more than 3 hours
Flight distance less than 3500 km with a delay of more than 4 hours

Care services include:

  • Food and beverages. Airlines must provide you with food and beverages in proportion to your waiting hours.
  • Telephone and Internet. Airlines must provide you with up to 2 phone calls, fax or email.
  • Accommodation. Airlines must pay for the hotel if an overnight stay is needed while waiting. They must also provide you with transportation from and to the airport.

What you should do if your flight gets delayed

Every passenger should know what to do in the event of a flight delay. You should know that airlines are usually not concerned with compensating you. Therefore, it’s important to know your rights and communicate with the airline. Here is a list of useful tips to remember if your flight gets delayed:

  • Keep your boarding pass and any other travel documents with you. Don’t throw them away.
  • Ask the airline staff for written confirmation explaining why your flight got delayed.
  • Don’t sign any documents that would waive your air passenger rights for that particular flight.
  • Gather contact information of other passengers in case you will need more information about the reasons for the delay and how the airline responded to it.
  • Request a full-price ticket refund. You can request a full refund if the flight delay takes more than 5 hours.
  • Take a photo proving the landing time of your alternative flight.
  • Ask the airline staff to provide you with food and beverages, phone calls, internet, hotel accommodation, and transportation should you require it. Airlines must provide care services even in the event of extraordinary circumstances.
  • Collect receipts of expenses you had such as for food and beverages, transportation or hotel accommodation.

Important things to know before you apply for compensation

Here is what you should remember before you file a compensation claim.

  • File your claim for compensation as soon as possible because time limits for filing a claim vary between countries.
  • Each passenger receives compensation. If you travel with your family and your flight gets delayed, all your family members can receive compensation.
  • If you were on a business trip, you are the one who should apply for compensation — not the company that paid for the ticket.

Get answers to frequently asked questions about compensation for delayed flights on our FAQ page.

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