In the event of flight cancellation or denied boarding the passengers concerned have the right to:

  • reimbursement of the cost of the ticket within seven days or a return flight to the first point of departure or re-routing to their final destination;
  • care (refreshments, meals, hotel accommodation, transport between the airport and place of accommodation, two free telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails);

compensation totalling:

  • EUR 250 for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less;
  • EUR 400 for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometers, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres.
  • EUR 600 for all other flights.

If the carrier offered you an alternative flight with a similar schedule, the compensation may be reduced by 50%.

With cancelled flights, you won't receive compensation if:

  • the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances for example due to bad weather, or
  • you were informed 2 weeks before the scheduled flight date, or
  • you were offered an alternative for the same route with a similar schedule to the original one. 

For cancellation due to extraordinary circumstances you may not have the right to compensation, the carrier must still offer you either:

  • a ticket refund (in full or just the part you have not used)
  • alternative transport to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or
  • rebooking at a later date of your choice (subject to seat availability).

Even in extraordinary circumstances, airlines must provide assistance when necessary, while you are waiting for alternative transport.

This Regulation is applicable to all worldwide airlines when departure takes place within the EU and, in the case of flights from outside the EU to a destination within the EU, only to airlines licensed in a Member State of the EU.

How to complain

Extract from Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 below.

Article 5 Cancellation

1. In case of cancellation of a flight, the passengers concerned shall:
(a) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 8; and
(b) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 9(1)(a) and 9(2), as well as, in event of re-routing when the reasonably expected time of departure of the new flight is at least the day after the departure as it was planned for the cancelled flight, the assistance specified in Article 9(1)(b) and 9(1)(c); and
(c) have the right to compensation by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 7, unless:
(i) they are informed of the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure; or
(ii) they are informed of the cancellation between two weeks and seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than two hours before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than four hours after the scheduled time of arrival; or
(iii) they are informed of the cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival.

2. When passengers are informed of the cancellation, an explanation shall be given concerning possible alternative transport.
3. An operating air carrier shall not be obliged to pay compensation in accordance with Article 7, if it can prove that the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
4. The burden of proof concerning the questions as to whether and when the passenger has been informed of the cancellation of the flight shall rest with the operating air carrier.

Article 7 Right to compensation

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall receive compensation amounting to:
(a) EUR 250 for all flights of 1500 kilometers or less;
(b) EUR 400 for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometers, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres;
(c) EUR 600 for all flights not falling under (a) or (b).
In determining the distance, the basis shall be the last destination at which the denial of boarding or cancellation will delay the passenger's arrival after the scheduled time.
2. When passengers are offered re-routing to their final destination on an alternative flight pursuant to Article 8, the arrival time of which does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked
(a) by two hours, in respect of all flights of 1500 kilometers or less; or
(b) by three hours, in respect of all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres; or
(c) by four hours, in respect of all flights not falling under (a) or (b),
the operating air carrier may reduce the compensation provided for in paragraph 1 by 50 %.
3. The compensation referred to in paragraph 1 shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services.
4. The distances given in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be measured by the great circle route method.

Article 8 Right to reimbursement or re-routing

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered the choice between:
(a) - reimbursement within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger's original travel plan, together with, when relevant,
- a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest opportunity;
(b) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity; or
(c) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date at the passenger's convenience, subject to availability of seats.
2. Paragraph 1(a) shall also apply to passengers whose flights form part of a package, except for the right to reimbursement where such right arises under Directive 90/314/EEC.
3. When, in the case where a town, city or region is served by several airports, an operating air carrier offers a passenger a flight to an airport alternative to that for which the booking was made, the operating air carrier shall bear the cost of transferring the passenger from that alternative airport either to that for which the booking was made, or to another close-by destination agreed with the passenger.

Article 9 Right to care

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered free of charge:
(a) meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time;
(b) hotel accommodation in cases
- where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or
- where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary:
(c) transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel or other).
2. In addition, passengers shall be offered free of charge two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.
3. In applying this Article, the operating air carrier shall pay particular attention to the needs of persons with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them, as well as to the needs of unaccompanied children.

Article 14 Obligation to inform passengers of their rights

1. The operating air carrier shall ensure that at check-in a clearly legible notice containing the following text is displayed in a manner clearly visible to passengers: "If you are denied boarding or if your flight is cancelled or delayed for at least two hours, ask at the check-in counter or boarding gate for the text stating your rights, particularly with regard to compensation and assistance".
2. An operating air carrier denying boarding or cancelling a flight shall provide each passenger affected with a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance in line with this Regulation. It shall also provide each passenger affected by a delay of at least two hours with an equivalent notice. The contact details of the national designated body referred to in Article 16 shall also be given to the passenger in written form.
3. In respect of blind and visually impaired persons, the provisions of this Article shall be applied using appropriate alternative means.

How to complain

Baggage claims

The Montreal Convention - air carrier liability in the event of damage caused to passengers, baggage or goods during international journeys.
Read more...

Up & down grading

Reimbursement apply if an operating air carrier places a passenger in a class lower than that for which the ticket was purchased.
Read more...

New Guidelines on EC 261/2004

New interpretation guidelines to clarify existing rules. (English only)
Read more...

 

Responsive web design. Works on all platforms and devices.