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Understanding Your Flight Compensation Rights in the EU for 2024

Experiencing a flight delay or cancellation is a common inconvenience that can disrupt travel plans and lead to significant frustration. While a delay might merely shorten the travel experience for some, it can cause others to miss crucial events.

Understanding Your Flight Compensation Rights in the EU for 2024

Therefore, knowing your compensation rights as a passenger is essential. The European Union has established EU Regulation 261/2004 to protect passengers’ rights and ensure they receive the necessary care and compensation when flights are delayed or canceled.


Before seeking compensation for a cancelled or delayed flight, it's important to determine eligibility. Not all passengers qualify for compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004. The regulation applies to the following groups of travelers experiencing flight-related issues:


  • Passengers flying within the EU, regardless of whether the airline is EU-based.

  • Passengers flying to the EU from outside the bloc on an EU airline.

  • Passengers departing from the EU to a third country on any airline.


Compensation for Cancelled Flights

If your flight is cancelled, you may be entitled to compensation ranging from €250 to €600, depending on the flight distance:


  • €250 for flights up to 1,500 kilometers.

  • €400 for flights within the EU over 1,500 kilometers and other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometers.

  • €600 for flights over 3,500 kilometers.


When a flight is cancelled, passengers have the right to choose between reimbursement, re-routing, or return. If notified less than 14 days before departure, passengers are entitled to compensation, though if re-routed and the final destination is reached with a delay of up to four hours, the compensation may be reduced by 50%.


Exceptions to Compensation for Cancelled Flights

Passengers are not entitled to compensation if:


  • Informed of the cancellation more than 14 days in advance.

  • Informed less than seven days before departure and offered re-routing that allows departure no more than one hour earlier or arrival less than two hours later.

  • Informed between seven and 14 days before departure and offered re-routing that allows departure no more than two hours earlier or arrival less than four hours later.

  • The cancellation is due to extraordinary circumstances such as severe weather, political instability, or security risks.


For instance, a Reddit user, djtrump, shared their experience of a flight cancellation from Barcelona to Belgrade due to bad weather. Despite filing a compensation claim under EU regulation EC No 261/2004, they anticipated a denial due to the extraordinary circumstances.

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“I’ve filed a claim requesting for compensation under EU regulation EC No 261/2004, which I expect will be denied on the grounds of extraordinary circumstances due to bad weather.”

Djtrump, Reddit User

Compensation for Delayed Flights

Passengers are entitled to compensation for delayed flights similar to those for cancelled flights, ranging from €250 to €600. Compensation is applicable if the delay at the final destination is three or more hours, provided the delay is not due to extraordinary circumstances.


Passengers can also claim compensation if:

  • They miss a connecting flight originating from an EU member state and arrive at the final destination with a delay of three or more hours.

  • They accept a flight from a different airport and arrive late.

  • They depart from a non-EU country to an EU country with connecting flights operated by EU airlines and experience a long delay at the final destination.


However, compensation is not granted if delays are caused by security checks, failure to respect boarding time, or extraordinary circumstances. A Reddit user, JSparrowT, described how a national strike in France delayed their Ryanair flight from Wroclaw to Porto by four hours. Their compensation request was denied due to the exceptional circumstance.


“Our Ryanair flight FR4423 from Wroclaw (Poland) to Porto (Porto Francisco Sa Carneiro International Airport, Portugal) on 2023-10-13 was delayed by 4h. There was a national strike in France on that day. We requested compensation, but Ryanair responded by saying that the strike was the reason and that they don’t have to compensate.”

JSparrowT, Reddit User


Rights to Free Assistance During Delays

If a flight is delayed, passengers have the right to free meals and refreshments corresponding to the waiting time, as well as two free phone calls. If the delay extends to the next day, passengers are entitled to free hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and the hotel. Airlines must also provide suitable accommodations for people with disabilities and those with service dogs.


If assistance is not provided by the airline, passengers should keep receipts for expenses incurred, as the airline is obliged to reimburse them.


Additional Tips for Delayed Flights

When notified of a delay, passengers should stay informed about the reason for the delay and keep track of the time. They are eligible for free food and drinks during the wait and can ask how long the delay is expected to last. Upon departure, noting the take off and arrival times helps determine eligibility for compensation.


Claiming Compensation for Canceled or Delayed Flights

To claim compensation, passengers should first complain to the airline by filling out a form detailing the flight issue and providing personal information. If unsatisfied with the airline’s response, passengers can escalate the complaint to the National Enforcement Body in the affected EU country. EU nationals have additional options such as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Entity or Online Dispute Resolution platform. If these measures fail, passengers can pursue the European Small Claims procedure.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


When should I submit my compensation claim for a cancelled or delayed flight? Submit your claim as soon as possible, ideally on the same day as the incident.


Can my compensation claim be turned down by the airline? Yes, claims can be denied if the cancellation or delay is due to extraordinary circumstances.


Am I entitled to compensation if my flight was delayed and I arrived five hours late at my destination? Yes, compensation is due if the delay is three or more hours, barring extraordinary circumstances.


I am traveling from Australia to Germany. Do I have any rights if my flight is delayed or cancelled? Yes, if your flight is operated by an EU-licensed carrier.


Do I have any rights if I arrive at the airport late due to heavy traffic? No, passengers must be on time for check-in to be eligible for compensation.


I departed three hours late but reached my final destination less than three hours late. Am I still eligible for compensation? No, compensation is not available if the delay at the final destination is less than three hours.


Do I have any rights if I miss a connecting flight? Yes, if the missed connection is part of a single reservation and the delay at the final destination is three or more hours.


Is my baby eligible for compensation if our flight is delayed? Compensation does not apply to passengers flying free of charge, including infants.


Is there a time limit within which I should receive compensation for a cancelled or delayed flight? There is no deadline for the payment of compensation under EU rules.


My flight is leaving earlier than originally scheduled. Do I have any rights? If your flight departs more than one hour earlier, it is considered a cancellation, and you are entitled to compensation.


I was supposed to travel from Paris, but my flight will now be leaving from Amsterdam. Am I entitled to compensation? If the airline does not provide transport to the new departure airport, the flight is considered canceled, and you are entitled to compensation.



Understanding your rights under EU Regulation 261/2004 ensures you can effectively claim compensation and receive proper care in the event of flight cancellations or delays. Utilize available tools to check eligibility and follow appropriate steps to file claims, ensuring a smoother travel experience despite disruptions.





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