Millions of air passengers travel each year, but a large number do not realize that there are air passenger rights to protect them while in transit.
If your flight was delayed, cancelled, or overbooked, you could be entitled to up to £510 (€600) in compensation.
Although air travel is the safest and fastest form of travel, it is not always the ideal experience we’d like it to be. Unfortunately, flight delays happen. If you’ve been on a delayed flight, you may be able to claim up to €600 in flight delay compensation under a European legislation called EC 261.
Under EC 261, you are entitled to file a delayed flight claim for €600 in flight delay compensation if…
For flights covered by EU law EC 261, any delay longer than three hours entitles you to financial compensation.
The amount of delayed flight compensation you’re entitled to depends on a couple of factors, including how long you have been delayed, and the distance of your flight. This chart breaks it down:
|Less than 3 hours||3 – 4 hours||More than 4 hours||Never arrived||Distance|
|€ –||€250||€250||€250||All flights 1,500 km or less|
|€ –||€400||€400||€400||Internal EU flights over 1,500 km|
|€ –||€400||€400||€400||Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km|
|€ –||€300||€600||€600||Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 km|
Many people think that their employer will be entitled to any compensation for a delay during a business trip, but that’s not the case.
In fact, it is the passenger who has suffered the inconvenience that is entitled to flight delay compensation, not the person who paid for the ticket.
This is the general principle set out in the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation for major flight delays, cancellations and cases of overbooking. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an employee of a private-sector company or a public official.
When you’re stuck waiting for the airline to get you back on track toward your destination, European law EC 261 says you’re entitled to a number essentials, depending on your flight details.
The carrier must provide you with meals and refreshments during the delay as well as access to communications, including two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, and emails.
If overnight accommodation is necessary, they must provide you with a hotel room, and transportation to and from the airport.
Right to reimbursement or re-routing
In addition to compensation for your loss of time, if your delay exceeds five hours, you are entitled to a full or partial refund of your original ticket and a return flight to your point of departure, if needed.
Upgrading and downgrading
If you are offered an alternative flight and are lucky enough to get an upgrade, the airline isn’t allowed to charge you anything extra. On the other hand, if the class of the alternative flight is lower, you can get a reimbursement of between 30-75% of the price you originally paid.
Even if you are compensated under EC 261, this doesn’t affect your right to request further compensation.
This rule doesn’t apply in cases where passengers have voluntarily surrendered their reservations. But bear in mind that the amount you are entitled to under EC 261 may be deducted from whatever additional compensation you receive.
When your flight is delayed, your airline may offer you compensation in the form of flight vouchers. This may be very tempting when you’re tired and frustrated.
However, you should check that by accepting a voucher, you’re not waiving your right to claim for the compensation you’re legally entitled to. EU regulations clearly state that compensation should be paid in cash, electronic transfer or checks, unless the passenger chooses to accept travel vouchers instead.
Essentially, it’s your choice as to whether to accept the vouchers or not. The data says that most people do.
But you must remember that it’s worth finding out what you might be entitled to if you refuse the airline’s offer and insist on cash instead.
Almost all routes within Europe are covered.
This includes not only EU airspace, but also Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the so-called “outermost-regions” (French Guiana and Martinique, Guadeloupe and La Réunion, Saint-Martin, Madeira, the Azores, and the Canary Islands).
A common misconception is that EC 261 only applies to flights within Europe, but that’s not the case.
If your flight departs from any airport in the EU, it’s covered. And it’s also covered if your flight departs from outside the EU but is with an EU airline.
Flight delay is based on the time you arrive at your final destination. This is important because even if your flight takes off late, the airline may still be able to make up time in the air.
But what exactly is a flight’s “arrival time?”
In September 2014, the European Court of Justice (case C-425/13) defined “arrival time” to be the moment at which the aircraft has reached its final destination and one of its doors is open.
This is based on the assumption that, at that moment, the passengers are permitted to leave the aircraft.
This can sometimes be a difference of 15 minutes or more from the time you landed, so it’s important to be precise if you are claiming for your flight delay.
No. The regulations in EC 261 state that an airline can avoid liability if the delay is caused by “extraordinary circumstances”. These include situations like lightning strikes, medical emergencies, serious adverse weather conditions, airport employee strikes or air traffic control strikes, air traffic control restrictions, sudden malfunctioning of the airport radar, acts of sabotage, political unrest, acts of terrorism.
It depends whether or not the airline could have prevented the problem. If, for example, the airline failed to ensure that there were sufficient supplies of de-icer before the onset of winter, it could be held responsible for the delay – especially if flights operated by other airlines were able to depart on time.
In April 2018, the European Court of Justice made a ruling stating that internal ‘wildcat strikes’ by flight staff do not constitute extraordinary circumstances.
Therefore, airlines must now compensate air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, when an airline strike is to blame.
With travellers flying to more destinations than ever, it’s not unusual for a flight to have one (or more) stops, or connections, on the way. The bad news is that just a delay in one leg of the journey can throw the entire journey into disarray.
Firstly, if you do miss a connection because of a delayed flight, it is the airline’s responsibility to find you a replacement to the final destination on your ticket.
In addition you could be entitled to compensation under European laws. If the time you arrive at your final destination is over three hours later than your original flight, you could claim up to €600.
It’s important that your flights are booked together and part of the same journey. If you booked your own onward flight separately, that would not be covered.
Keep calm, Africlaim is here!
If you’ve just found out your flight is delayed, don’t stress, follow our easy step-by-step guide on how to make the best out of the situation.
We understand that many air passengers do not have the time, experience or willpower to fight with airlines in order to claim the compensation they’re owed.
Why use Africlaim:
Airlines have different procedures and required documents in order to make a claim. The best advice is to hold on to all documents if your flight is delayed.
Africlaim is super experienced at handling claims for passengers so it’s no surprise we know what each airline will require exactly. We’ll help you to find the right documents when you kick off your claim.
If you’re going to file directly with an airline, you can expect some pushback. Even with EC 261 on your side, they might not be enthusiastic – or quick – about paying you. To give your claim the best chance of succeeding, make sure you gather together all the documentation you can.
The USA does not have its own comprehensive set of air passenger rights covering flight delays. However, there are clear laws on your rights if your plane is delayed on the tarmac. These entitle you to information, food and water.
No matter where you live, if you’re flying from a European airport, or flying into Europe on a European airline, you can claim for flight delay under EC 261. This chart makes it clear:
|Itinerary||EU Air Carrier||Non-EU Air Carrier|
|From inside the EU to inside the EU||Covered||Covered|
|From inside the EU to outside the EU||Covered||Covered|
|From outside the EU to inside the EU||Covered||Not Covered|
|From outside the EU to outside the EU||Not Covered||Not Covered|