What are my rights in a delayed flight?

Every day thousands of air passengers have delayed flights. A delayed flight is certainly a bad experience especially if you are in a hurry for a business meeting or any other special event.

A disturbed flight really spoils your overall air travel experience and leaves you feeling there is nothing you can do. But that’s not the case.

What are my rights in a delayed flight?

If you are a frequent flyer, you probably have experienced a delayed flight at some point. While some people choose to accept it, some opt to claim  compensation for their flight.

If your flight was delayed and won’t depart on time, you have the option to claim your rights. You can do this under several conditions . It’s recommended to learn about your rights in such cases and be well informed about all the options you have for claiming compensation for your rights.

There are some things you can do to get compensation for your delayed flight. To claim compensation for your delayed flight, you should know your EU air passenger rights.

What are my rights in a delayed flight?

The EU Regulation 261/2004 defends EU air passenger rights and it gives you the right to get a fair compensation for your delayed flight. This rule brings some conditions.

Every air traveler can claim up to €600 for their cancelled or delayed flight. Тhis depends on several factors. This concerns all flights departing from the EU and flights arriving in the EU that are operated by an EU air carrier.

According to the statistics every year only 2% of air passengers that are entitled to a compensation manage to successfully claim it. 98% of the passengers don’t claim their flights.

The amount you are entitled to as a passenger ranges from €125 to €600. In the case of delayed flights, air passengers can get full or partial refund of flight ticket and a return ticket.

In addition to this your airline also owes you free meals and refreshments, if you are stuck for a long time at the airport. You should also get access to phone calls and emails. And if your flight delay is long, then your airline should provide you with a place to stay.

What are my rights in a delayed flight?

Depending on the length of your flight’s delay, you should receive certain things by your airline.

If your flight is delayed for 2 or more hours, the airline owes you food and drinks, a free option to make phone calls or send emails to manage your travel arrangements.

In the case of an overnight delay, the airline should provide you with a transport between your hotel and the airport. They should also provide you with accommodation .

Flights with a 3-hour delay, air passengers receive all of the abovementioned things.They can receive a compensation up to 600€ which depends on the length of the delay and the total distance of the flight.

Here is an example what amount of compensation you are entitled to for your delay:

  • for flights less than 1,500 km you are entitled to 250€.
  • for flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km including intra-community flights over 1,500km  you are entitled to 400€.
  • for flights more than 3,500 km you are entitled to 600€.

But you should know that if your delayed flight is longer than 3500 km but the delay is less than 4 hours, the airline owes you 50% of the standard compensation amount. If for example your airline provided you with an alternate flight but with a downgraded seat, you have the right to ask for an additional reimbursement.

If you wonder what to do in a situation where your flight is delayed, in this article you will get some advice about the possible ways of action for you.

What are my rights in a delayed flight?

Who is eligible for flight compensation?

One of the first things you should do to claim your compensation is to get information. An air passenger is eligible for a flight compensation if the airline is responsible for the flight’s delay.

So, if it’s the airline’s fault the flight didn’t depart on time, they should pay you  compensation for your inconvenience.  If the delay was caused by factors which are uncontrollable by the air company, the passenger won’t get  compensation.


What are the requirements under which a passenger can get a flight compensation?


If the airline is responsible for the flight’s delay, they owe you  compensation. If something has prevented you from catching your flight on time, then the airline doesn’t owe you compensation.

Time period

If the flight’s delay was in the last three years, then you can get compensation for your flight. Most people don’t wait three years to file their claim. For example, if you have just learned about EU 261 and your flight was delayed a year ago, you can obtain compensation for it.

However, this rule doesn’t count for all EU countries as the rules of each country vary.

Some countries offer passengers a time period for compensation claims of up to 6 years while the limitation period of other countries is one year. This concerns the countries where  each airline is based.

What are my rights in a delayed flight?

You can get compensation if the airline didn’t notify you 14 days in advance or more. But the airline doesn’t need to return your money if they notify you two weeks before your flight, even if it’s their fault and you have already made  reservations for your trip.

Specific circumstances

An air company owes you compensation if they didn’t find an alternate flight or rerouting  for you that is acceptable.  For example, if the airline has notified you about the delay 7 to 13 days in advance, you can be offered an alternate flight which departures 2 hours earlier or 4 hours later than the originally booked flight.

If your airline does provide you with an alternate flight or rerouting, they don’t owe you compensation.

Another example situation is when the airline informs you about the delay 7 days in advance. If they offer you an alternate flight that departs 1 hour earlier or arrives up  2 hours later, you may not receive a compensation.

What are my rights in a delayed flight?

According to EU 261 requirements air passengers can get compensation by the airline, if the connecting flights are covered by one booking.


How to get compensation?

There are several things you can do to obtain compensation for your delayed flight:

Get compensation by yourself

Knowing your air passenger rights is a must. You should know that not all people who claim compensation on their own do this successfully and manage to get their money back.

If you choose to claim your compensation on your own, there are several steps to complete:

Claiming compensation on your own:

Contact your airline

You should contact the airline that operated the flight and not the air company you booked your flight ticket from. This counts also for the cases where you have booked your flight online or through an online travel agency.

Because the policies of air companies are different, some airlines require their customers to fill an online form instead or contact them using a postal service or through an email. It’s easier if you choose to do it by email. Find the airline’s contact page.

Explain what happened

You need to explain in your email, letter or online  form that is sent to the air company what exactly happened and how much money you expect to get for your inconvenience. You should know that most passengers are denied compensation at first.

What are my rights in a delayed flight?

Use lawyer services to claim your flight

This option should be used as a last resort. Because,  if you decide to claim your flight with a lawyer,  they will require from you a fee payment beforehand. You should pay your lawyer whether or not the case is successful or not.

Using lawyer service also takes time as you need to meet with your lawyer face-to-face, do some paperwork and make a couple of phone calls.

If  you want to make the right choice, you should find a lawyer who is specialized in air passenger rights for delayed flights and compensation claims under EC 261.

 Use claims management company

There are companies that offer assistance to passengers who want to claim compensation for their flight. Using the services of a specialized company in this field saves you considerable time and effort.

Such companies prepare and file your flight claim in your name. They represent you in front of the air company. Before filing your claim these companies check the circumstances and details of your flight delay. After that they contact the airline and handle the entire procedure.

Claims management companies partner with lawyer teams. Therefore, if a passenger’s case needs to be escalated to a small court, NEB or ADR scheme, these lawyers will offer their assistance.

The advantage of using the help of a claims management company as a passenger is that you don’t owe them anything if they manage to obtain compensation for your delay. They will not charge you even if they brought the claim to court.