Any frequent flyer can experience canceled or delayed flights at some point. Sometimes even if you arrive early at the airport, you may learn that your flight is delayed and the departure won’t be on time. This is a pretty much unpleasant experience for any traveler.
Thousands of passengers come up to this problem every day. Fortunately, there are some ways in which you can get compensation for your canceled or delayed flights.
If you are a frequent traveler, this topic may interest you. It’s not good when you need to wait for hours at an airport because your business flight was delayed or canceled.
It’s a fact that only a small part of the air passengers (around 2%) who are eligible have a successful claim for compensation every year. Which means the other 98% don’t even claim it.
So as a passenger you should know what your rights are. In this article you will find out how to claim what is owed to you by your airline.
EU air passenger rights are valid depending on several cases:
If the flight is within the EU territory and it’s operated by an EU or non-EU airline. If the flight is operated by an EU or non-EU airline and it departs from the EU to a non-EU country. If the flight is operated by an EU airline and it arrives in the EU from outside the EU.
Under the EU law air passengers can obtain compensation for their flight in several cases. If the passenger has not already received benefits (compensation, re-routing, help from the airline) for issues connected to their flight under the law of a non-EU country.
For example, if the flight was operated by a European airline and landed in the EU,UK, Switzerland or Norway independent from where you are departing from.
If the flight landed in an eligible French island abroad, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Saint Martin, the Azores. If the flight left from the European Union, UK, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland. If the flight left from French islands, the Azores, Madeira islands, Saint Martin, Canary Islands. All airlines need to show information about air passenger rights at its check-in counter.
If none of these cases applies to you, you should contact your airline company. For example, if your flight was from New York to Los Angeles or to Europe. An important factor is what airline owns the airplane. What compensation you are entitled to depends on the airline.
Flights within the EU territory are named “intra-community flights”. If your flight falls into this category, you can get compensation of 400€, even if the flight’s length is more than 3,500km.
Sometimes the airline may offer a replacement flight. If you need to wait long for your replacement flight, your airline is obliged to give you free access to phone calls, emails, food and drink while you are at the airport.
The assistance your airline will offer you depends on the length of the flight’s delay. If the flight is delayed for 2 hours or more, the airline has the obligation to provide passengers with food and drinks through the entire duration of the delay. The airline can give you meal vouchers instead.
Another thing that you should get is access to phone calls or emails so that you reschedule your plans due to the flight delay.
You should also get accommodation by the airline if your delay is during the night including the transport between the hotel and the airport. The airline can give you vouchers for these things.
Generally, when you are at the airport you should be offered help to get your compensation for your flight. If you don’t get help from the airline’s staff, make sure to keep the receipts for your expenses and ask for a refund for them later. You can also check if your travel insurance covers flight cancellations.
If your flight’s delay lasts for 3 hours or more, the airline is obliged to give you all of the above-mentioned.
If your airplane arrives at the end destination with a 3-hour delay, you have the right to claim an airline delay compensation.
The amount of compensation is determined by the total distance of the air trip as well as the length of the delay. If the fight is less than 1500 km, you are entitled to get 250 € compensation. An if it’s between 1500km and 3500 km, you should get 400 €.
This counts also for intra-community flights that are over 1500km. Intra-community flights are flights that are within the EU.
If your flight is intra-community, you are entitled to a maximum of 400 €, even if the flight is over 3500km. If your flight is over 3500 km, you are entitled to 600 €.
But, if your flight is more than 3500km and its delay is less than 4 hours, you will receive only 50% of the amount you are usually entitled to.
But air companies give payment only for reasonable expenses. Airlines are unlikely to give you compensation for alcohol, luxury hotel stays and expensive dining.
The length of the delay depends on the distance of the flight and the destinations it’s flying between. The amount of compensation you will get also depends on how long the delay was (how late you are arriving at your destination), whether you are traveling to an EU or non-EU country and the distance of the flight.
If your flight is delayed for more than 3 hours and the airline is responsible for the delay, you have the full right to get compensation. A flight can be delayed for many reasons. Sometimes the airline didn’t have enough bookings or the reason is some technical issue.
You also have the right to get compensation if your replacement flight has a delay of two or more hours and in cases when your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure date.
What will be the size of your compensation depends on the date of the flight’s cancellation, the departure and arrival times of the rescheduled flight and the distance of the flight.
If the flight has a 5-hour delay or even more, you don’t have to take the flight. In this case it doesn’t make a difference who is responsible for the flight’s delay and what is the distance of the flight. You should inform some member of the airline’s staff as soon as you know for certain that you won’t take your flight.
If you don’t take a flight with a 5-hour delay, the airline has to provide you with all these things:
A full refund for the flight
A full refund for other flights with the same airline that you are not going to use in your booking such return or onward flight;
A free flight back to the airport location where your initial departure is (this counts for a situation when you are halfway through a journey).
A passenger won’t get compensation, if the delay was caused by something the airline doesn’t have a control over. These are factors such as bad weather or security risk.
In such cases when your flight is a non-EU flight that connects to an EU flight you can get flight compensation under some conditions. You should also know that the outbound and return flights are considered as two separate flights, even if they were booked as one reservation.
The airline will compensate you if your flight was delayed for more than 3 hours, if you booked both flights as a single booking and if the airline is responsible for the flight’s delay.
For example, if you are flying between two cities and your connecting flight was delayed or you couldn’t board your flight, the airline still owes you compensation. Airlines don’t mention this fact often but an air passenger can claim up to 600 euro for a canceled or a delayed flight.
This means that your flight has a delay, but if you do take the flight, you can claim 600€. This depends on the distance and the destination of the flight. The reason for the delay can be a technical issue or a case of overbooked seats.
The air passenger rights allow you to get compensation for your canceled or delayed flight. There are general rules that determine how much your compensation will be.
If the airline is responsible for the delay, you are legally entitled to get compensation. According to the EU rule, if your flight is delayed by more than three hours or your flight is cancelled, your airline should give you compensation. Check what compensation an airline should give you, if your flight is delayed for long enough.
If your flight was cancelled, you as a passenger have the legal right to
And if you are delayed for two or more hours because of the flight cancellation, the airline has to offer you help with costs. And if you are delayed by 2 or more hours by a replacement flight, the airline owes you compensation. In this case the airline should give you less than 2 weeks’ notice.
There are three ways in which you can claim compensation for your delayed or cancelled flight.
Claim a compensation on your own
If you want to choose this option, you should know that it requires patience and also the knowledge of your air passenger rights for delayed flights.
There are several steps you need to complete if you decide to claim your flight compensation on your own. Contact the airline which operated your flight . You don’t need to contact the air company that you booked your ticket with.
Take note that the airline that operates the flight (which is called an operating air carrier) may not be the same as the company you booked your ticket with. So, if any issues with your flight appear, you should turn for assistance to the airline that operates the flight.
Contact with their customer service department. You should give all of the flight details and booking reference numbers.
You need to write your claim and describe in it what went wrong with your flight and what compensation you think the airline owes you.
You also need to ask the airline for the right amount of compensation. You should add the quote from EU Regulation 261/2004 (EC 261) in your claim letter.
Some airlines can require you to fill an online form or to contact them through a postal address. One of the easiest ways to contact an airline company is by email.
No matter which contact form you will choose, you should describe what went wrong with your air travel experience in a non-rude language.
You should know that most travelers are initially denied delay compensation, so you should be patient.
Get help from a lawyer
You can ask a lawyer to claim your compensation in your name, if you don’t want to do it on your own. This option isn’t highly recommended and should be used as a last resort. Because the lawyer will require from you an upfront payment for their service, no matter if you successfully get your compensation or not.
Using the services of a lawyer also takes time as you will need to arrange a meeting with a lawyer and explain the details of your case and the reasons for your flight delay. You should do some paperwork and spend some time on phone calls.
It will be good if you find a lawyer that is specialized in air passenger rights for delayed flights.
Contact a company
Another way to get flight compensation is to seek help from experts in getting flight compensations. Claims management companies are mostly specialized in this sphere.
They help air passengers get their flight compensation from airlines. A claims management company prepares and files the claim in the passenger’s name by representing them in front of the airline.
They check the circumstances and details of your flight’s delay or cancellation. After that they contact the air carrier and handle the entire process of getting compensation.
They can help you if your claim needs to be represented to a small court. Claims management companies have teams of lawyers that will take care of your case. If they obtain compensation for you, you don’t owe them anything. That’s even in cases when they bring the claim to court. You are not required to pay an upfront fee.