Since being passed back in 2004, the EU 261 regulation has protected air passengers from severe disruption. This legislation confirms cancellations, long delays, flight re-bookings, and missed connections cause incredible inconvenience for passengers, so affected passengers need to be compensated for their troubles. EC Regulation 261/2004 applies to the following:
- Passengers with a booking confirmation and valid ticket.
- Passengers who begin their journey in EU airports or arrive in EU airports provided the airline in question is headquartered within the EU.
Eligible passengers can be using low-cost airlines, be on business trips, be flying with children on paid tickets, be booked on package holidays, or be flying on reduced or free tickets due to promotional or customer loyalty programmes.
As to whom EC Regulation 261/2004 doesn’t apply to, those passengers include the following:
- Passengers travelling on reduced or free fares that are indirectly or directly unavailable to the general public.
- Air passengers who didn’t check in soon enough (unless otherwise notified, check in no later than 45 minutes prior to takeoff).
Reason Behind EU Passenger Regulation
EC Regulation 261/2004 was put in place for protecting passengers against preventable cancellations and long delays. “Regulation (EC) 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 of cancellation or long delay of flights.” This regulation protects passengers against disruption and provides an incentive for airlines to uphold punctual operations.
The EU regulation is concerned with:
- Helping passengers who undergo cancelled or delayed flights, denied boarding, or overbooking.
- Giving rise to compensation claims between €250 to €600 (depending on certain criteria).
- Providing access to certain services when flights are delayed several hours or cancelled.
- Allowing passengers the chance to cancel their seat from a scheduled flight if it’s delayed over five hours or cancelled.
- Obliging that airlines inform passengers of cancellations and delays as well as their rights.
Eligibility for Compensation
Per the EU261 ruling, a flight must land or take off in the EU, but airlines must have EU-based headquarters wherever they land. Claims remain retrospectively valid for six years. Being a business traveller or flying on a package holiday doesn’t matter—the person who suffers a flight disruption is who receives compensation.
You’re eligible for compensation in some cases, including the following:
- Delays: Flight must reach its destination three hours late or more.
- Cancellations: You must have learned of the cancellation fewer than two weeks prior to takeoff.
- Overbooking: The airline must have overbooked the flight and cannot find you a seat on the plane (very similar to denied boarding).
- Missing a connecting flight: You arrive at your destination three or more hours late due to missing a connecting flight. This applies even if another airline operated your connecting flight, so long as the ticket was valid for both flight legs.
The compensation you receive depends on your flight’s distance rather than your ticket’s price, so it would look like this:
- Short-distance flights under 1500 km: €250.
- Medium-distance flights from 1500 km to 3500 km: €400.
- Long-distance flights over 3500 km: €600.
Also, airlines must completely and clearly inform passengers of their rights to compensation. They need to inform you through warnings when invoicing, updated information and other news on their website, and written notices of any delays.
The first thing you need to do is establish whether you have a valid compensation claim, which can be a fairly drawn-out procedure—flight databases need accessing, similar cases must be compared, and you must check that Regulation No. 261/2004 applies to you. Your best move is to submit your claim through FDC Claims—just enter your flight’s details in our free online calculator, confirm your claim’s validity, and we’ll cover the rest.
Our compensation calculator analyzes thousands of flights as well as meteorological data in order to check that the EU regulation applies to your case. You’ll receive a free evaluation to let you know if you are eligible. Top of FormBottom of Form If you are eligible for compensation, we can defend your claim, and you can move forward with the knowledge that you have a knowledgeable, reliable, and committed partner who will enforce your claim all the way to completion.
Rights While Waiting in the Airport
EC Regulation 261/2004 says if you’ve suffered a bad flight delay, you qualify for certain additional benefits regardless of the airline’s responsibility:
- Short-distance flight under 1500 km, with a cancellation or two-hour or more delay: free food and drinks as well as two phone calls, faxes, or emails.
- Medium-distance flights from 1500 km to 3500 km, with a cancellation or three-hour or more delay: free food and drinks as well as two phone calls, faxes, or emails.
- Long-distance flights above 3500 km, with a cancellation or four-hour or more delay: free food and drinks as well as two phone calls, faxes, or emails.
With overbooking, you are entitled to other benefits and services immediately. With cancellations and flight delays, further rights are available—when you’ve been delayed over five hours, you can cancel your flight. If you’re delayed into the next day, you’re entitled to a free hotel stay.
Under the EU regulation, a disrupted flight doesn’t always qualify for a compensation claim, because the cause is deemed an “extraordinary circumstance” and isn’t the airline’s responsibility.
Such circumstances include the following:
- Political instability
- Inevitable security risks
- Airspace or airport closure
- Adverse weather
- Birds flying into or at engines
Exceptions are made when the airline could’ve prevented an issue, such as when an airline blames bad weather, but they actually failed to provide adequate de-icing supplies before winter. When this happens, the airline may be considered responsible for the delay. One crucial indicator in this type of situation is whether other flights flew during the weather.
Requirements for a Flight Delay Compensation Claim
- You checked in on time (often a minimum of 45 minutes prior to takeoff).
- The flight disruption occurred within the last six years.
- The airline can be held responsible for your delay (e.g. sick crew or technical fault).
- The flight departed within the EU or landed within the EU (if the airline has headquarters within the EU).
If you believe you are eligible, let’s get your claim started. Just fill out our claim form below and we will take care of the rest!