Your air passenger’s rights for delayed or cancelled flights

Cancelled or delayed flight can cause you inconvenience and spoil your dream trip or holiday. In such events, you should be aware that you are protected and that you have certain rights, according to the applicable law.

In the European Union (EU) your rights are governed by Regulation No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and cancellation or long delay of flights. At the international level, the Convention for unification of certain rules for international carriage by air or the so-called Montreal Convention shall apply. 

Your rights under Regulation No 261/2004

Regulation No 261/2004 shall apply to the following flights: 

  • flights in the airspace of the European Union, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland, including flights to the following overseas territories: Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion Island, Mayotte, Saint-Martin, the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands;
  • all flights departing from EU airports to third countries;
  • all flights departing from a third country airport to an EU airport, in case if the air carrier is registered in the EU. 

Regulation No 261/2004 protects you and provides you with certain rights in the following events

  • denied boarding against your will;
  • cancelled flight;
  • delayed flight. 

Right to compensation 

If you are entitled to receive compensation under the Regulation, you should be aware that the amount is fixed in advance, namely:

  • EUR 250 for flights up to 1,500 km;
  • EUR 400 for EU flights over 1,500 km and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km; and
  • EUR 600 for all other flights.

You shall have the right to receive cash compensation in the following events: 

  • when your flight arrives at its final destination with a delay of three hours or more; 
  • in the event of denied boarding against your will;
  • in the event of cancellation unless you are informed by the air carrier for the cancellation at least seven days before the flight.

In certain cases where the air carrier has re-routed you to your final destination on another flight, the airline may have the right to reduce your compensation by 50%.

Other rights under Regulation No 261/2004

In addition to the right to compensation, the Regulation provides you with the following additional rights:

  • right to information – in all events the air carrier must provide you with notice of your rights according to the Regulation; 
  • right to reimbursement of the full cost of the ticket – in the event of denied boarding or delayed flight, the passenger is entitled to choose between reimbursement or re-routing with another flight; 
  • right to re-routing to the final destination with another flight – in the event of denied boarding or cancellation of your flight;
  • right to meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time – in all events, covered by the Regulation; 
  • right to hotel accommodation, where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary - in all events, covered by the Regulation, but only if the expected time of departure is scheduled at least for the next day; 
  • right to transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel);
  • right to two telephone calls or e-mails free of charge - in all events, covered by the Regulation. 

Your rights under Montreal Convention

If you travel outside the EU airspace to a third country or from a third country to an airport in the EU, but the airline is not registered in the EU, your rights are governed by the Montreal Convention.

Montreal Convention provides you with certain rights in the following events: 

  • delayed flight; 
  • personal injuries or death of passenger during travel; 
  • loss/destruction of your baggage or cargo; 

No compensation in extraordinary circumstances

You should be aware that in certain cases air carriers may be released from liability. Under the Montreal Convention and Regulation 261/2004, compensation is not due from air carriers if they can prove that the cancellation or delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances. The Court of Justice of the European Union has developed consistent court practice on what constitutes an exceptional circumstance,  which is binding on the national courts of the Member States.

Please contact us if you wish to submit a compensation claim to an air carrier or if you need assistance with your claim.       

This article has been prepared for the purposes of general information only and does not constitute legal advice with respect to any particular subject or situation. For specific legal advice, you should contact an attorney-at-law. Stoeva, Tchompalov & Znepolski is not responsible for any legal action undertaken on the basis of the information contained herein.