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EU261 Passenger Rights Regulation

The European Parliament and the European Council have released air passenger rights for the air passengers under EU 261/2004, where airlines are liable to pay compensation or offer care services to the passengers in case of flight disruption.

EU261/2004 applies on which flights?

The regulation is applicable to all the flights that departs from the EU, as well as arrive in the EU provided the operating airline is EU-based carrier. Note: EU261/2004 is also subject to restrictions in these regions – Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

EU 261/2004 applies:
  • If your flight started in the EU or your flight landed in the EU and the operating airline is EU-based
  • Regardless of whether your flight was a scheduled, charter or low-cost flight or part of a package holiday deal
EU 261/2004 does not apply:
  • If you were late to check-in, as this is your responsibility and not the airlines. So make sure you do so at least 45 minutes before your departure
  • If you are using a tariff which is not available to the public directly
Extraordinary Circustances
Severe Weather

Severe weather

strikes

Strikes

Radar Failure

Radar failure

Passengers are entitled to compensation whenever time irregularities are caused by circumstances that are the responsibility of the airline. If there are “Extraordinary Circumstances” outside of the airline’s control, the obligations of the airline are restricted.

The airline must provide the following under EU Regulation 261/2004

The airline must provide the following under EU Regulation 261/2004

Replacement Services

In case your flight gets disrupted, the airline either provide you full refund or an alternative flight at the earliest. This applies if a passenger has been denied to board or the flight has been cancelled. If the flight gets delayed more than 5 hours, passengers can choose not to fly and claim for flight compensation.

Care Services

Flight Delay? The airline is obliged to offer you drinks, snacks and telecommunication services. If it is an overnight delay, you will also get hotel accommodation.

Compensation

In the cases of denied boarding, flight delay more than 3 hours, and flight cancellation, you are entitled to get compensation up to 600 euros. The amount depends on the flight distance and duration of delay.

What are the cases covered by EU Passenger Rights Regulation?

In principle, there are 3 different cases covered by the Passenger Rights Regulation:
Flight Delays

Flight delays

Flight Cancellations

Flight cancellations

Over Bookings

Overbookings

Although the EU Passenger Rights Regulation differentiates these three cases, certain provisions apply regardless of whether your journey is affected by a flight delay, a flight cancellation or an overbooking.

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Services

If a passenger is forced to wait for a longer period of time, then airline is obliged to give care services. Even in the extraordinary circumstances, airline has to offer appropriate services. An ‘inappropriate delay’ is considered when:

Inside the EU

Flight distances up to 1500km:

A delay of over 2 hours

Flight distances over 1500km:

A delay of over 3 hours

Outside the EU

Flight distances up to 1500km:

A delay of over 2 hours

Flight distances between 1500km-3500km:

A delay of over 3 hours

Flight distances over 3500km:

A delay of over 4 hours

What are the care services?

Food and Drink

Food and drink

Passengers are entitled to food and drink in proportion to the waiting period.

Telephone Internet

Telephone & Internet

You are entitled to up to two phone calls, e-mails or faxes at the expense of the airline.

accommodation

Accommodation and transport

If the waiting time requires an overnight stay, the airline must pay for your hotel.

Your passenger rights in the case of a flight delay

Care services for flight delays

In case of flight delays, passengers will get additional care services as in case of flight cancellations and denied boardings.

EU Flight Delay Compensation

The compensation for flight delay depends upon the delay time and the length of the journey as shown in the table below:

Distance Time Compensation Time Compensation
Up to 1500km 0-3 hours delay €0 3+ hours delay €250
1500km – 3500km 0-3 hours delay €0 3+ hours delay €400
More than 3500km within the EU 0-3 hours delay
€0 3+ hours delay €400
More than 3500km outside the EU 0-3 hours delay
3-4 hours delay
€0
€300
4+ hours delay €600
Replacements for flight delays

If the delay exceeds above 5 hours, passengers can choose not to fly and ask for refund of entire ticket price. Payment shall be made within the 7 days from the date of depature. Passenger will get the refund as well as the compensation from the airline.

Flight Cancellation – Your Passenger Rights

Care services for cancelled flight

In case of flight cancellation, passengers are entitled to get benefits of substitute transport at the airport. This means that you can claim after the waiting for 2 hours and get compensation.

Replacement services

In case of flight cancellation, you can either a full refund of thr ticket or an alternative transport (like bus, train, rental car) to be arranged by the airline. Note: You’re still eligible to get the compensation even after choosing any of these options. Even if you want to abandon your travel, you can. Your ticket amount will be reimbursed.

Flight cancellation compensation

The compensation and the other replacement services depends on when you were informed about the cancellation or under what conditions replacement services would be offered.

Conditions when compensation is not required

You will get the compensation if you have been informed of the cancelation more than 14 days before the scheduled departure. The compensation payment is also omitted if:

  • You were informed of the cancellation 7 to 14 days before the planned departure and your substitute flight does not start more than 2 hours later and will not land more than 4 hours later than the original planned flight
  • You were informed of the failure less than 7 days before the planned departure and your substitute flight does not start more than 1 hour later and will not land more than 2 hours later than the original planned flight

Amount of Compensation in Flight Cancellation

If none of the aforementioned exclusion criteria apply, the compensation is decided based on the flight distance. The compensation payment may be reduced by the airline by up to 50% if it offers a different transport to the destination airport. In this case, the arrival time of the alternative transport must be in a reasonable time relationship with the original scheduled route.

Distance Time Compensation Otherwise
Up to 1500km Alternative flight with max. 2-hour delay € 125 € 250
1500km – 3500km Alternative flight with max. 3-hour delay € 200 € 400
More than 3500km within the EU Alternative flight with max. 4-hour delay € 200 € 400
More than 3500km outside the EU Alternative flight with max. 4-hour delay € 300 € 600

Denied Boarding – Your Passenger Rights

Denied boarding by the airlines is the outcome of overbooking. This is quite common practice among low-cost carriers, they intentionally sell more tickets than available seats assuming that some passengers would not turn up or cancel their journey.

Additional Services

IApart from the financial compensation of up to 600 €, you are also entitled to get additional services if you have been denied to board against your will/choice:

  • Full ticket refund or the refund of unused leg of the journey
  • An alternative flight (earliest possible flight)
  • Other transportation service like bus, taxi, train etc.

Besides the above mentioned facilities, you can also ask for free food, drinks, and telecommunication service (2 free phone calls), emails or faxes. If your alternative flight departs the next day, you are also entitled to get free hotel accommodation.

Denied Boarding Compensation

In case of denied boarding, it is also important for you to know that if you opt for an alternative flight, the compensation amount would be reduced by 50%, whereas if you do not choose to fly with an alternative flight, a ticket refund would be provided to you.

The compensation payment for denied boarding cases are as follows:

Distance Time Compensation Otherwise
Up to 1500km Alternative flight with max. 2-hour delay € 125 € 250
1500km – 3500km Alternative flight with max. 3-hour delay € 200 € 400
More than 3500km within the EU Alternative flight with max. 4-hour delay € 200 € 400
More than 3500km outside the EU Alternative flight with max. 4-hour delay € 300 € 600

Note: Make sure you reach at least 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Your right is also restricted if there are reasonable reasons for your denial of boarding, e.g. inadequate travel documents and visa issues.