Any frequent traveler has encountered at least once or more extended flight delays, which have led to considerable stress and discomfort.
For some, delayed or canceled flights may mean fewer hours off during vacation, but for others, this might lead to being late for an urgent meeting or life event.
Along with the new digital travel permit ETAIS, the European Union has created EU Regulation 261/2004 intending to protect passengers and their rights. In order for the passenger to get every care and support in case of delayed, canceled flights, overbooked flights, or other similar situations, the rule stipulates what airlines should be doing.
This post helps you quickly figure out whether you are qualified to seek compensation in such a scenario. If so, how much you owe the airline and what you may seek as reimbursement.
EU Rules on Delayed and Cancelled Flights, also Denied Boarding
EU Regulation (EU) 261/2004 specifies basic passenger rights in cases when refused their boarding, canceled, or postponed their flights:
- Food and drinks (often provided in the form of vouchers) should be supplied to passengers whose flights were delayed for more than 2 hours.
- In case the flight got postponed overnight, a hotel should also be provided to the travelers.
- Each passenger may claim compensation unless the airline company has notified the passengers of this delay in due course.
What flights do the EU regulations apply to?
Since this EU Regulation only applies to flights that are linked to the EU, passengers on flights listed below may claim compensation:
- The flight was operated inside the EU by an EU airline or by a non-EU airline.
- The flight was operated by an EU airline and arrived in the European Union and originated from outside of the European Union.
- The aircraft took off from the European Union and arrived in a country outside the EU.
Who has the right to compensation for a flight delay?
Everyone whose flight has been delayed for over three hours and falls within the EU Regulation is entitled to compensation.
Provided your flight has been postponed lately, you are entitled to request compensation from the air carrier for your confirmed flight reservation if one of the circumstances listed below is applicable to you:
- You have shown at check-in on time as announced in advance in written form by the airline, the tour guide, or other authorized agents. In case not specified, you are obliged to be at the desk not later than forty-five minutes before departure.
- You were relocated by an airline or travel agency to a different flight, regardless of the reasoning behind it.
What can I expect as reimbursement in case of a delayed flight?
Eu flight delay compensation varies from €250 to €600 per person.
Depending on your flight distance, this is the amount you can expect as compensation:
- For flights less than 1500 kilometers, €250 is due.
- For 1500 km to 3500 km flights the sum would be €400.
- €600 is compensation for flights longer than 3500 km.
In this case, your refund may be only half if the delay took between 3-4 hours.
Please keep in mind that the refund could be paid in cash, by e-bank transfers, banking orders or by bank checks, or by travel vouchers or other services with your written consent.
How to get a reimburse for my delayed flight?
If you think that you have the right to compensation for flight delays, you will have to apply and request it in most cases. The reimbursement in fact is not automatically applied by airlines.
You have various alternatives for claiming reimbursement, and we will go into details for any of these options for your claim.
Fill out a complaint to the air carrier
That is the obligatory first step that must be taken by everyone.
If claiming at the airline is not successful, you may try any of the others request avenues, including seeking legal counseling.
An AIR PASSENGER RIGHTS-EU COMPLAINT FORM is another important step if you want to officially inform the airline accountable for your flight delay or cancellation.
You should fill out the form in capital letters and you have to answer all of the following questions:
- Surname and name.
- Home address, including city, postcode, country.
- Phone number and your email.
- In case you fill out a complaint for another passenger, provide the same details for them as well.
The form provides you with the description of “long delay“, “cancelation“, “denied boarding” or “downgrade.” You need to select the option that relates to your case.
Four YES / NO questions are also provided:
- If you possess a confirmed reservation for the flight.
- If you were at the check-in counter at the specified time, or in case no time was announced,
you were there not later than forty-five minutes prior to the announced flight departure.
- If you were at the gate even before the expected boarding time.
- If you have received information about your rights from your airline.
Once the form is completed print and sign the form. Don’t forget to keep a copy of the form for yourself as a record before sending it to the airline and submit thus your claim
In fact, if the air carrier turns down your complaint, you will need that document for all further actions.
Fill out a formal complaint to local authorities
You should wait for the airline’s response after submitting your complaint form. Within 8 weeks of your request, the airline is due to answer. if they do not or if you are not pleased with their response you may then proceed to the next step of the flight compensation claim.
In this situation, you should file a complaint with the Member State’s National Enforcement Body.
Send them the email with the complaint you previously submitted to the airline, and describe your case – the air carrier did not reply, or you think their justification is unfair, etc.
Some legal advice on how to continue with your claim will be provided by the national authority. You should notify the local enforcement authority in the flight destination country if the event occurred at an airport outside the EU.
Entities for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)
In case you are an EU citizen, you may find more alternatives on how to continue with your complaint if the air carrier fails or you are not pleased with their answer.
You may attempt to settle your dispute by:
- Alternative Dispute Resolution Entity (ADR). You can reach out to impartial out-of-court entities, for example, ombudsman, or other mediator authorities.
If you and the airline do not come up with an agreement, they will examine your case and offer a solution.
- If you purchased your ticket online, you can try Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform.
The EU ODR website, which is free of charge, allows you to file your complaint and will work with you on your case.
Court settlement for small claims in the EU
You may do so via the European Small Claims process, if none of the foregoing works for you or if you wish to move to the court in case the airline refuses to pay you.
The reimbursement claim may be submitted to a court at:
- The location of flight arrival or departure;
- The airline headquarter registration location.
You must fill in Form A and include any document supporting your claim as receipts or cost invoices.
After the court evaluates your claim, you might be requested to submit a Form B.
You will have to pay a court charge under the European Small Claims Procedure. If your case succeeds, this charge will be refunded.
What are ‘extraordinary flight delay circumstances’?
If the delay is caused by ‘exceptional circumstances’, the airline has the authority not to reimburse you. For flight delays, exceptional circumstances include:
- Exceptional weather (i.e.: hurricanes, snowstorms, etc.).
- Staff strikes.
- Animals (bird) incidents.
- Limitations by air traffic control authorities.
- Civil and political turmoil.
Thus, if a technical issue stops an aircraft from departing on time, we can surely say the carrier failed to carry out its obligations towards the passenger.
Frequently Asked Questions on Flight Delay Compensations:
When should I file a claim for my delayed flight compensation?
Contact the airline as soon as possible after the delay and fill out a reimbursement claim.
Is it possible for the airline to deny my claim for compensation for a flight delay?
The airline has the authority to deny your claim, especially if the flight has been canceled due to unforeseen circumstances.
If you think your claim was denied unfairly, you may proceed with other processes outlined above.
Is it possible for my young kid to get compensated as well for a travel delay?
That is a debatable situation, as in the event of a flight delay of more than three hours, the EU law explicitly stipulates that all passengers are entitled to compensation.
It does, however, state that passengers who travel for free are not entitled to such recompense.
As some airlines allow parents to take their children free of charge, you will not be able to seek reimbursement for your child if this is your case.
You may seek reimbursement if you paid for your kid’s seat, even if it was at a discounted price.
My flight took off on schedule, but we arrived almost three hours late. Is this considered a flight delay?
Yes, it is considered a flight delay. The time it took to arrive at the destination should be taken into account when assessing the delay, according to the EU.
We were 3 hours late leaving the departure country but arrived at the destination in less than 3 hours. Is it possible for me to claim?
Even though you left the departure country more than three hours late, you cannot claim compensation if you arrived at the destination country less than three hours late.
It’s important to remember that it’s the arrival time that counts, not the leaving time.
My airline put me in a lower class than the one I bought. Is there any way I can be compensated?
You can be compensated for that, as follows:
- For trips of 1500 km or less, the airline must refund you 30% within 7 days.
- For flights of more than 1500 kilometers, 50% of the ticket price should be refunded.
- Exemption are the flights between the EU and the French overseas territory, where 75 percent of the ticket price is due for refund.
- For delays to any other destination, 75% of the ticket price should be refunded.
Is there anything I can do for my missed connecting flight?
Yes, you may seek financial compensation in case of a missed connecting flight as part of your reservation due to a delay of three hours or more.
The aircraft was delayed, and I was traveling as a part of a group. Should we seek compensation for the whole group or each individual person?
You are advised to demand reimbursement for each group member.
What Passengers on Delayed Flights should know?
If you are about to board a flight and the air carrier personnel informs you that the aircraft may be late, you should begin paying attention, even if the delay is expected to be just a couple of minutes.
You can find below some essential recommendations for travelers on delayed flights, as outlined by EU air passenger legislation:
- Inquire with the airline personnel about the cause for the delay and make a note of it. You have the right to be informed about the reason for the delay.
- Keep note of the time, and the length of your flight’s delay.
- Inquire about food and beverages if you feel hungry or thirsty.
- If the delay is till the next day, ask for accommodation for the night.
- Request a cab or other arrangement to transport you to your lodging.
- Inquire about the length of the delay. If you’re assured the wait will be over shortly but it doesn’t, inquire again.
- Take note of the departure time of your flight.
- Make a photo (you can use that as a piece of evidence if needed) of the arrival time at your destination.