EU Flights Financial Compensation Law

Travel Talk

Under European law, passengers who have booked on seriously delayed flights, have the right to receive EU flight compensation. This law has been established under the regulation of the EU, since 2004, and also applies to overbooking and cancellations that prevent you from catching your flight.

When is this law in effect and the amounts of financial compensation you can receive?

What is the EU flight compensation law? EU flight compensation is contingent on the location of the airport, upon arrival and departure. In order to receive compensation, you must be departing from an airport located in the EU, or arriving at an airport in the EU, or flying with an EU regulated airline, or one from Switzerland, Norway or Iceland. Passengers experiencing delays and cancellations are most often dismissed when seeking compensation. Airlines have been known to avoid recompensing passengers, blaming cancellations and delays on crew strikes, and vague ‘extraordinary events’. Unexpected technical faults were also commonly used as a way of relinquishing responsibility. When requests are met with opposition, passengers not completely savvy with the law, often time waive their rights.

In 2014, two radical UK Supreme Court rulings stated that carriers were responsible for paying compensation, if technical faults caused delays. Prior to this, delays were never considered for compensation, although in 2009, the ECJ passed a ruling, which stated that passengers on flights, delayed for 3 hours or more, were also entitled to compensation. Financial compensation vary in amounts, depending the length of delays and distance you have travelled. An airline will pay £250 for an inter-EU flight that has flown up to 930 miles or less, £310 for flights, ranging between 930 and 1,860 miles and £460 for all other journeys. If you are on a cancelled flight and are offered an alternative one, with comparable schedules, you will still receive compensation, albeit 50% less.

Airlines are not liable for paying compensation, if they inform passengers of cancellations, at least 2 weeks before the date of their scheduled flight. If they can offer you an alternative flight, with a similar schedule and matching route, or they indeed have to cancel because of extraordinary circumstances, such as extreme weather, you’ll not receive compensation either.

What happens if you are not eligible for financial compensation?

If a carrier does cancel a flight, due to extraordinary circumstances, the airline is still expected to offer you a ticket refund, provide you with alternative transportation to your final destination, at their earliest convenience, and re-book you on a later another flight. If you feel that you are eligible for compensation, due to any of the reasons stated above, you can make a claim for up to 6 years. 

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