Understanding your flight compensation rights

Flight disruptions can be frustrating, but knowing your rights to flight compensation can help you ease the stress. Our experts created this guide to simplify the process of understanding and claiming compensation for flight delays, cancellations, and overbookings under EU law.

Check if you can claim flight compensation with our Claim Calculator.

What you must know

  • Passengers are entitled to compensation for delays over 3 hours, cancellations, and denied boarding due to overbooking under EU law.

  • Compensation amounts can range up to €600, depending on the flight distance and delay duration.

  • Claims for compensation can be made for flights departing from or arriving in an EU country with any airline, or departing from an EU country with an EU airline.

  • Extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather or air traffic control strikes are not eligible for compensation.

Introduction to Flight Compensation Rights

EU261, introduced in 2005, is a European law designed to support air travellers. It provides a way to claim compensation for flight delays, cancellations, or denied boarding. This law represents a significant milestone in safeguarding the rights of travellers, ensuring they receive compensation when travel plans are disrupted. It stands as a pivotal piece of legislation, underscoring the EU's commitment to making air travel fairer for passengers. It simplifies the understanding of passengers' rights and the process of claiming them when issues arise.

This regulation applies to all flights operated by European airlines and to all flights departing from European airports.

Eligibility criteria to receive flight compensation

The regulation EU261 is very broad and covers multiple flight disruptions. Depending on what happened to your flight, the eligibility criteria to claim flight compensation are different.

Flight compensation in the event of a delayed flight

When your flight is delayed, you can claim flight compensation if:

  • The delay was longer than 3 hours upon arrival, and
  • The airline was responsible for the delay

Flight compensation in the event of a cancelled flight

When your flight is cancelled, you could also be able to claim flight compensation. However, you need to make sure that:

  • Your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure, and
  • The airline was responsible for the delay

Flight cancelled - you can also get a refund!

In the event of a cancelled flight, the airline owes you a refund regardless of when the flight was cancelled. However, if you accept the alternative flight offered from the airline you can not get the refund of your flight ticket anymore. This alternative flight option should be free of charge and you are allowed to decline it. If you do, you will get the refund of your flight.

Overbooked flight and denied boarding - can I also claim flight compensation?

Airlines overbook flights to fly as full as possible. They are aware of that some passagers won't show and want to avoid potential revenue loss from last-minute cancellations or no-shows. If your flight is overbooked and that you've been denied boarding at the last minute, this is considered, in regards to the EU261 regulation, as a cancelled flight. You will then be entitled to flight compensation up to €600 and the full refund of your flight ticket.

Delayed or cancelled flight?

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How to claim flight compensation?

Step 1: Check if your flight is eligible for compensation

Use AirRefund's compensation checker to determine if your flight issue qualifies for compensation. You will get your answer within a few clicks - this is 100% free and without obligation to continue your claim with us.

Step 2: start and complete your claim

Once you know if your flight disruption can allow you to claim flight compensation you can choose to trust AirRefund's experts to take care of the claim process for you. Just continue filling in our form and download all necessary documents.

Here are examples of the documents that we might need to process your claim:

  • Flight ticket or booking confirmation
  • Boarding pass
  • Any correspondance with the airline regarding your delay or cancellation

Step 3: let our experts get your flight compensation!

Once your claim is complete and your flight compensation claim submitted our experts will start working on your claim right away. We will gather aviation and weather data to back up your claim and make sure to provide everything to the airline. If needed we can also take the airline to court if they wrongly deny your compensation. In the meantime you can just relax while we keep you informed and send your compensation directly on your bank account.

Flight compensation amount

The amount of flight compensation depends on the distance of your flight. See the table below for more details.

Distance of your flightCompensation
Flights shorter than 1,500 kmGet €250 per passenger
Flight between 1,500 and 3,500 kmGet €400 per passenger
Flights of over 1,500 kilometres within the EU
Get €400 per passenger
Flights of over 3,500 kilometres outside of the EU
Get €600 per passenger

Flight compensation rights - frequently asked questions

1. Can I claim flight compensation for flights outside of the EU?

You can but under one condition: that your flight was operated by a European airline. More generally, the regulation EU261 covers your right to flight compensation if your flight was leaving from a European airport or was operated by a European airline. See the table below for more information.

Type of flightExampleCompensation
Flying with a British carrierTokyo to London with British AirwaysYes
Flying with a EU carrierAmsterdam to London with KLMYes
Flying with a non-UK/non-EU carrier from the UKLondon to Tokyo with Japan AirlinesYes
Flying with a non-UK/non-EU carrier to the UKTokyo to London with Japan AirlinesNo

2. Can the airline deny my flight compensation rights?

They can, but under specific conditions. Based on the European regulations regarding flight compensation, the airline has to provide flight compensation to passengers if it was responsible for the delay, cancellation or denied boarding. The situations were the airline is not responsible for the flight disruption are called Extraordinary Circumstances.

Here are a few examples of Extraordinary Circumstances that allow the airline to deny your flight compensation rights:

  • Bad weather conditions, such as thick fog, heavy rain, or thunderstorms.

  • A strike, most often specifically within the aviation industry (for example, a strike of air traffic control workers at a specific airport).

    However, a strike of the airline's crew is not considered an extraordinary circumstance!

  • Political circumstances, such as a terrorist attack or general security risk due to political unrest.

  • Natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions and hurricanes.

  • A collision between the aircraft and birds or other foreign objects.

  • An ill or unruly passenger.

  • Flight delays caused by the airport staff, such as extraordinarily long queues to security checks.

3. How long can I claim flight compensation after my disrupted flight?

The time frame to be able to claim flight compensation after a disrupted flight depends on the law in:

  • The country of departure
  • The country of arrival
  • The country where the airline if officially registred

For instance, if you were taking a flight from Paris to Berlin with easyJet and that your flight was delayed by more than 3 hours, you could claim flight compensation for:

  • 5 years (France is the country of departure)
  • 3 years (Germany is the country of arrival)
  • 6 years (easyJet is a British airline)

As the passenger claiming flight compensation you're allowed to choose the most favourable option for you.

Let our experts do the work for you!

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