Air passenger rights

If you’re planning a trip by plane, you should know that you have air passenger rights. These rights are guaranteed by Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

Many people don’t know that they have specific rights when travelling by plane. These rights include a right to compensation for unsatisfactory services on the part of an airline. However, many people don’t think they can win against a powerful airline, but it’s not true. With the help from the best flight claim companies, you can get the compensation you’re entitled to.

Cases that are covered by Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 include the following:

  • Delayed flights. In the event, a flight is delayed for more than 3 hours.
  • Cancelled flights. In the event, an airline fails to inform passengers about cancelling the flight at least 14 days before departure.
  • Overbooked flights. In the event, an airline sells more tickets than there are seats on the plane and some passengers are denied boarding.

Requirements to be eligible for flight compensation

According to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, you can receive compensation if a flight departs from the EU or lands in the EU (if the carrier is an EU-based airline). Flights to or from Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland are also included under this regulation.

Claims for compensation are invalid under extraordinary circumstances, such as strikes, political unrest, adverse weather conditions, airport operation failures, aircraft manufacturing defects, and similar disruptions. Note that airline staff strikes do not fall under extraordinary circumstances.

Your claim for compensation is invalid if you experienced a flight disruption due to reasons that were under your control, and they include the following:

  • You arrived at the departure gate too late. The minimum arrival time is usually declared by the airline.
  • There were valid reasons for denying you to board your flight (such as improper travel documents, visa issues etc.)
  • If you paid for the flight ticket using tariff that is not available to other customers directly.
Compensation claims are valid for: Compensation claims are invalid for:
Flights that begin inside the EU Flight disruptions that occur due to extraordinary circumstances. Flight staff strikes excluded
Flights that land in the EU (if the carrier is an EU-based airline) Passengers that arrived late to the departure gate
Charter, scheduled and low-cost flights, and package holidays Passengers that were denied boarding due to valid reasons (such as inadequate travel documents, visa issues etc.)
Flights in Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland Passengers that bought special tariff tickets
Passengers that applied for compensation before the end of application validity date in that country


Airline responsibility in the event of a delay, cancellation or overbooking

Under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, if a flight is delayed, cancelled or overbooked, an airline’s responsibility is to provide:

  • Replacement services. In the event of a cancelled or overbooked flight, you can either opt for an alternative flight offered by the airline or a full refund of the ticket. If the flight is delayed for more than 5 hours, you can abandon your flight and receive a full refund.
  • Care services. An airline must provide you with food, beverages, telephone, internet, and accommodation even in extraordinary conditions.
  • Compensation payments. You may receive €250 – €600 depending on the flight distance, delay length, and other factors. You can find the exact possible compensation amount of each flight disruption type by clicking delay, cancellation, overbooking.

Care services

Airlines must provide care service to their passengers under these conditions:

Inside the EU Outside the EU
Flight distance less than 1500 km with a delay of more than 2 hours Flight distance less than 1500 km with a delay of more than 2 hours
Flight distance less than 1500 km with a delay of more than 3 hours Flight distance less than 1500 km with a delay of more than 3 hours
Flight distance less than 3500 km with a delay of more than 4 hours


Care services include:

  • Food and beverages. Airlines must provide their passengers with food and beverages in proportion to their waiting hours.
  • Telephone and Internet. Airlines must provide their passengers with up to 2 phone calls, fax or email.
  • Accommodation. Airlines must pay for the hotel if an overnight stay is needed while waiting. They must also provide their passengers with transportation from and to the airport.

Useful tips before applying for  compensation

There are some important things you should know before you file a flight compensation claim.

  • Apply for compensation as soon as possible because time limits for filing a claim vary between countries.
  • In the event of a cancelled or overbooked flight, you got a higher class seat on your alternative flight, you don’t have to pay additionally. However, If you got a lower class seat, you can get compensation of 30 – 75% of the price you paid.
  • Each passenger receives compensation. If you travelled with your family and your flight got delayed, cancelled or overbooked, all your family members can receive compensation.
  • If you were on a business trip, you are the one who should apply for compensation – not the company that paid for the ticket.

Frequently asked questions

You can find answers to frequently asked questions on the FAQ air passenger law page.