EU261 – Passenger Rights for Flight Delays or Flight Cancellations

Under European Union Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004, you may have the right to compensation or refund for flight delays, cancellations or denied boarding due to overbooking.

You may claim up to 600€ per person under EU261 rule.

EU261 Regulation

Under EU Air Passengers’ Rights Regulation (EC) No. 261 of 2004, air passengers are entitled to compensation or refund for longer flight delays, flight cancellations, and denied boarding due to overbooking.

In order to claim compensation under EU261 rule …

  1. Flight should have been delayed over 3 hours at the final destination
  2. The flight must have been departed from EU airport or landed at EU airport with EU-registered airline
  3. There mustn’t be extraordinary circumstances, such as extreme weather, political unrest, strike, or any ‘Act of God’.

Am I eligible for compensation under EU261 Rule?

If the delay or cancellation was due to airlines fault, you may be eligible for compensation up to 600€.

Since EC Regulation 261/2004 is European law, it applies to EU air space.

You do not have to be a European citizen to claim compensation under the European Passenger Rights EC261 Regulation.

It is valid for all passengers irrespective of their citizenship.

You are eligible for compensation if your flight was …

  • either departed from an EU airport (with any airline)
  • or arrived at an EU airport with an EU-regulated airline
    Origin and Destination EU Airline Non-EU Airline
    From inside EU to inside EU Yes Yes
    From inside EU to outside EU Yes Yes
    From outside EU to inside EU Yes No
    From outside EU to outside EU No No

    You are not eligible for compensation if your flight was delayed due to extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather, security threats, strike, etc.

    What rights are covered by EU Regulation 261/2004?

    • Flight Delay: Your flight arrived later than 3 hours at the final destination.
    • Flight Cancellation: Your flight was canceled without prior notice of at least 14 days before departure.
    • Flight Overbooking: Your flight was overbooked and you were denied boarding.
    • Missed Connection: Due to delay or cancellation of your first leg, you missed the second leg. In such cases, you may ask for a refund of the part of the journey not covered, and return flight to the original destination.

    EU Flight Delay Compensation

    As per EU laws, the passenger can claim financial compensation for delays of more than 3 hours. In case of cancellation or overbooking, if the airline provides you an alternate flight which gets delayed, the compensation amount may be reduced by 50%.

    3+ hours Less than 1500 km 250€ (Approx. $280)
    Between 1500 km to 3500 km 400€ (Approx. $450)
    More than 1500 km and within EU (I) 400€ (Approx. $450)
    3 to 4 hours 3500+ km (and EU borders crossed) (II) 300€ (Approx. $340)
    4+ hours 3500+ km (and EU borders crossed) (III) 600€ (Approx. $680)


    1. For internal flights within the EU, you can demand up to 400€.
    2. For the flight that originated from the EU airport but landed 3-4 hours later at an airport outside the EU, the airlines should reimburse you up to 300€.
    3. Whereas, if the flight originated from an EU airport but landed later than 4 hours at an airport outside the EU, then you can demand up to 600€.

      Flight Cancellation Compensation

      If your flight was cancelled without prior notice of at least 14 days, you may ask for flight cancellation compensation or get a refund.

      There are two options available for you to choose from …

      1. You can either apply for a ticket refund, or
      2. You may ask for the change of flight or an alternate flight.

      You can claim EU flight compensation for a cancelled flight if the information of the cancellation of the scheduled or booked flight is not provided at least 14 days before the scheduled time of departure.

      In line with EU Passenger Rights Regulation 261/2004, you can claim compensation for flight cancellations up to 600€.

      The amount of compensation may vary between 125€ and 600€ and depends on the length of the delay and the route distance of your flight.

      Use our Compensation Calculator to determine the exact amount of the sum you can ask for flight cancellation.

      Denied Boarding

      If you were denied boarding, you may be eligible for compensation under the European Regulation EC261 up to 600€ if …

      • you have presented yourself on time for check-in, and
      • you have a valid flight reservation and travel documentation, and
      • you were denied boarding due to overbooking (overselling of flight tickets), and
      • you didn’t voluntarily give up your seat

      If you were denied to board the flight due to overbooking, you should be re-routed to the earliest available flight.

      Alternatively, you can ask for a refund of ticket cost (which should be credited in the next 7 working days), if you are not willing to travel.

      Missed Connections

      A connecting flight is a flight booked under one booking number or in one booking event.

      Due to the delay or cancellation of your first leg, you missed the second leg. In such cases, you may ask for a refund of the part of the journey not covered, and return flight to the original destination.

      In order to claim compensations for missed flight connections due to delays, it is necessary for the passenger to book the entire journey under one ticket or one booking reference. In case you have booked separately the two legs, your claim for missed flight due to delay is not admissible for compensation.

      What are ‘Extraordinary Circumstances’?

      If the flight was delayed or cancelled due to ‘Acts of God’, the airline may not be liable for financial compensation. But still cannot shy from its duty to provide care (For eg. refreshments, phone calls and/or accommodation) to travellers similar to Customer Service Plans mandated by the U.S. Federal law for passenger services during such contingencies.

      The table below serves well to understand the commonly defined ‘Acts of God’ circumstances which shield the airline to pay monetary compensation.

      The Act of God (no financial compensation) A strike is an act of god and you do not get compensation. Bad weather like Volcanic eruption and ice rain are acts of god. Are act of god if the airline could not have foreseen or avoided the technical faults.
      Non-act of god (compensation) But only, if the delay of the flight can be avoided. If other airlines are able to fly on strikes there might be the possibility to claim. It is not an act of god if it could have been avoided by the airline, for example by cleaning the runway correctly or shelter the plane. It is not an act of god if it could be avoided, for example by catching birds at the runway, keep spare parts…

      What are the ‘Rights to Care’?

      • Meals & Refreshments: The passengers of the delayed flights need to be provided a reasonable meal or refreshments free of cost to the passengers in relation to the quantum of delay and circumstances.
      • Communications: In the event of a delay, the airline should provide at least two telephone calls, Fax messages or emails facilities to the passengers.
      • Hotel accommodation: The airline is duty bound to provide free hotel accommodation near the airport for an overnight delay.
      • Transport: The airline must provide you with transport between the hotel and airport.

      When do I have the right to compensation for a package holiday?

      EU261 rule also protection for tour packages, travel packages, vacation packages, and holiday packages.

      Usually a package involves two travel elements, for example a flight and hotel. The rule applies only to those packages that are purchased within the EU Member States. However, if the trip is scheduled for a destination outside the EU, even then you can get this protection.

      You are eligible for compensation for package holiday if….

      • Your travel itinerary should clearly state the flight destinations, route, and transport facility either by airplane, taxi, etc.
      • This data is binding on the tour organizer.
      • Before the trip, the trip organizer should inform you in written concerning time and locations for stopovers and flight connections.
      • The tour operator is solely responsible for any violation of its terms and conditions.
      • If it is possible under their terms, airlines can change the original price.
      • For instance, the tour organizer shall act on the passenger’s behalf against the airline to ask for compensation if any mishap occurs.
      • Your organizer should ask for reimbursement and you should get the full refund of your flight ticket cost within 7 days in cash, cheque or electronic bank transfer.
      • You must be offered an alternate flight to your final destination with the earliest flight available or as per your convenience.

      Normally, you will not claim compensation from the tour operator, but directly from the operating airline.

      As these compensation payments can be substantial, you should definitely enforce them with your airline, and we will gladly assist you.

      In the event of flight delays and cancellations due to exceptional circumstances, compensation claims of airlines are generally denied.

      How we can help you to get your compensation under EU Regulation?

      Our long experience in this field coupled with a strong database of a flight delay as well as pertinent case rulings enable us to pitch these differences meaningfully before authorities while making financial claims for legitimate compensation on your behalf.

      Besides, we also have a team of expert lawyers to bring your case to court, if required, to press your rightful claim. You just need to fill the claim form over our website, give all the details like flight number, flight date, etc.

      Also, you can download our free flight delay compensation letter template to make your claim to the airline directly at no cost. This will ensure that your letter is complete without missing all the relevant details in compliance with EU 261 rule.

      Why Choose “Claim Flights”?

      • The expert services of Claim Flights can be of enormous help to air travellers. We enable the air passenger to make a claim for delayed or cancelled flights in the most suitable manner.
      • Once we contact the airlines on your behalf, the airlines may agree to pay compensation while they would not have ordinarily responded to the individual passenger’s similar claim.
      • Our specialists often discuss your claim case with the airline where they cite relevant case laws and historic rulings to establish the validity of your claim.
      • We have numerous instances to our credit where we could get the claim successfully for our clients which was previously denied by the airlines when they were contacted directly by the passenger.
      Esenia Ulbrich

      Esenia Ulbrich

      Founder & Legal Head

      Esenia Ulbrich is the founder of Claim Flights and heads the legal team. She hold a master of business administration and loves sailing in the Saronic Gulf, hiking in the alpes and spents time with her daughter.

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