The vast majority of air passenger rights are regulated by the European Regulation No 261/2004 which aims to ensure a high level of protection for passengers. After entering into force on 14 February 2005, the regulation introduces basic protection for passengers when they find themselves in situations of being denied boarding against their will, cancellations without prior warning and long delays. In such cases, passengers are entitled to compensation as well as to assistance.
The European Regulation No 261/2004 is directly binding in all European Union Member states.
The Regulation applies:
A flight is legally considered as delayed if the take-off happens at least two hours after the scheduled time. However, the characterization of a delay also depends on the flight distance (see the table below).
In the event of a delay of at least two hours, passengers can expect to be offered free meals as well as refreshments. In addition, they have the right to make phone calls free of charge or to send two faxes, telex or e-mails to inform others about the delay.
In the event of a delay lasting at least five hours, passengers can request the reimbursement of their full ticket price within seven days, regardless of flight distance.
An excessively delayed flight entitles the passengers to indemnification ranging from 250 to 600 EUR per person depending on the specific conditions of the flight in question. The combination of destination and/or origin and the flight distance allows calculation of the amount due to you by the airline.
|Distance||Delay (at final destination after potential rebooking and/or re-routing)|
|Less than 2 hours||From 2h to 3h||From 3h to 4h||More than 4 hours||Never Arrived|
|Delayed||less than 1500km||€0||€0||€250||€250||€250|
|from 1500km to 3500km||€0||€0||€400||€400||€400|
|more than 3500km||€0||€0||€300||€600||€600|
|Cancelled||less than 1500km||125 €||€250||€250||€250||€250|
|from 1500km to 3500km||200 €||€200||€400||€400||€400|
|more than 3500km||300 €||€300||€300||€600||€600|
|Overbooked||less than 1500km||€0||€0||€250||€250||€250|
|from 1500km to 3500km||€0||€0||€400||€400||€400|
|more than 3500km||€0||€0||€600||€600||€600|
It is important to note that for multi-leg flights, it is the delay at the final destination that matters. This means that the flights must have been booked through the same reservation. Should you be delayed on a flight booked directly with Airline A that would make you miss the flight you booked with Airline B, Airline B shall not be held responsible for the delay at the final destination.
If the flight is delayed 3h or more at the final destination, then compensation is due. It will be calculated based on the distance and airport of origin and/or destination.
Obviously, any financial loss caused by this delay should lead to further compensation. Such a loss should be proved by legally acceptable means.
However, it is possible that no compensation will be offered at all if the air carrier can prove that the delay was the result of extraordinary circumstances.
In accordance with Regulation No 261/2004, passengers shall be offered free of charge meals and refreshments. When the flight is delayed for more than a day compared to the originally announced time, the airline must provide passengers with hotel accommodation and transport when necessary. In addition, passengers must also be offered free of charge two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.
However, it is common for airlines companies to derogate from their obligations of care and assistance. Unfortunately, the passenger will often be forced to personally incur additional costs such as meals, refreshments or transport.
For this reason it is crucial to keep invoices and/or receipts in order to be reimbursed by the airline.
Yes, your rights are guaranteed by the European Commission and all EU Member states, but occasionally airline companies will stall for time and sometimes abuse the extraordinary circumstances that can justify a delay when the issue does in fact fall under their responsablity such as a mechanical problem, or a personnel strike. Often in the confusion of a crowded airport, anything can be said without consequence as passengers are often misinformed, or information is forgotten. Furthermore, if you write a letter of complaint asking to be reimbursed, it can be difficult to question the validity of the reasons given for the delay by the airline (when you are lucky enough to receive an answer…).
By connecting to Air Traffic databases, our system can accurately and unquestionably identify the causes of delayed flights. This system developed by our team prevents airlines from claiming fanciful reasons to explain delays and allow unequivocal application of the relevant regulation.
This operational credibility combined with our network of lawyers enables us to make faster claims and improve the success rate of the indemnification processes with the airline’s legal department.
For more details, you can also visit the website dealing with this topic: