Is your flight delayed? Know your rights!

You’ve arrived at the airport on time, 2 hours before take-off. You’ve checked-inn your bags and passed through the security. You’ve taken a walk or two through the duty-free and now you’re ready to board.  However, when you arrive to the gate you see that there is a delay and suddenly you find yourself waiting for 2 hours or more and now you’re getting somehow annoyed – who likes to wait especially when you’re excited to arrive to the upcoming destination!? Do you recognize this feeling?

The question remains – what rights do I have under these circumstances?

In 2004 the EU established common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights – but very few passengers are familiar with these. In the event of a delay some passengers might complain to the on-gate staff and in return they receive food coupons but very often we just sit and wait for new announcements to come being rather annoyed. Some passengers might even make a complain to the airline and if lucky they will receive a gift card worth a penny. But in fact, you are entitled to much more.

You’ve the right to get compensation if you’re flight is cancelled or delayed for at least 2 hours but note the these rules only applies if you’re:

  • Departing from any airport located in the EU
  • Arriving in the EU with an EU airline or one from Iceland, Norway or Switzerland


You’re entitled to…

If you’re denied boarding or your flight is cancelled or overbooked you’re entitled to:

  • Transport to your final destination using comparable alternatives means
  • Having your ticket refunded and, if relevant, being returned free of charge to your original departure point

If you’re flight is delayed for at least 5 hours you’re entitled to:

  • A refund, however, if you accept this, the airline doesn’t have to provide any further onward travel nor assistance

If one of the above mentioned cases appears while you’re travelling you may be entitled to financial compensation of €250 – €600, depending on the distance of your flight. In addition, financial compensation applies for delays of more than 3 hours!

Within the EU:

  • 1,500 km or less = €250
  • over 1,500 km = €400

Between EU airport and non-EU airport:

  • 1,500 km or less = €250
  • 1,500 – 3,500 km = €400
  • over 3,000 km = €600

However, note that if the airline offered you an alternative flight with a similar schedule, the compensation may be reduced!

Furthermore, you’re entitled to refreshments, meals, communication i.e. a free phone call, and if necessary, overnight stay.

The rules do not apply if…

Even so the above mentioned rules do not apply in certain circumstances theses include:

  • Cancellation due to extraordinary circumstances i.e. bad weather
  • If you’re informed 2 weeks before the scheduled flight
  • If you’re offered an alternative for the same route with a similar schedule

However, the airline must offer you a refund, alternative transport or re-booking in the case of cancellation due to extraordinary circumstances.

How do I get the refund or compensation?

If a delay or cancellation occurs you have to submit an air passenger rights EU complaint form to your airline and please make sure to save a copy for yourself.
I hope this article comes in handy next time your flight is delayed or cancelled!