Flight compensation under EU 261/2004

You may be sitting at home reading this after receiving an email from your airline or worse you may already be at the airport waiting for a delayed or canceled flight. What are your rights under EU law? What will the airline do for you? Whether your flights have been canceled or delayed you may have rights under the existing EU law to flight compensation. EU 261 applies to all twenty eight EU countries. At the moment that still includes the UK so for example flights out of London still are fully covered by EU 261 compensation. Only once Brexit is final will we know if the UK will still adhere to the rules under EU261. If the UK doesn’t then UK airlines flying from outside the EU will have limited responsibilities under EU 261.


Flight cancellation

Canceled  flights are likely the most straight forward issue. Your flight has for some reason been canceled by the airline. Airlines can cancel flights up to fourteen days before the flight with no compensation due.


If your flight has been canceled with more than fourteen days

of notice all you can expect is a full refund of the ticket. Normally the airline will if possible offer you a ticket on a different flight. If your schedule is flexible this may be acceptable to you. If on the other hand you have booked hotels,transfers or other costs that aren’t flexible you will receive no compensation from the airline. You are expected to claim on your trip insurance. If you have trip insurance. If dealing with these costs will be difficult you should really consider travel insurance.  You may never need travel insurance in which case it will seem a waste of money but if you do need it the insurance may end up saving your vacation. I will point out that you should make sure any travel insurance you buy will protect you in case of cancellations or delays. Read the terms BEFORE buying the insurance.

If your flight is canceled with less than fourteen days of notice

you likely have a right to compensation. But understand airlines can claim ” extraordinary circumstances.”


What are Extraordinary circumstances?


Extraordinary circumstances can lead to more than one cancellation or delay at the final destination. Examples of events defined as extraordinary circumstances are air traffic management decisionspolitical instabilityadverse weather conditions and security risks.

Situations which are not considered as extraordinary circumstances include:

  • most technical problems which come to light during aircraft maintenance or are caused by failure to maintain an aircraft
  • collision of mobile boarding stairs with an aircraft
  • bird strike

If an airline invokes extraordinary circumstances the reasons must be clearly explained. An airline does not have to pay compensation in the event of cancellation or delay at arrival if it can prove that the cancellation or delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.


Weather doesn’t mean only the departure airport but can mean the arrival airport. Do not assume because your departure airport is sunny and dry that the flight can’t be canceled because of bad weather at the arrival airport.

You will notice strikes or other personal issues are not listed.  If the airline cancels due strikes you should receive compensation.

What Flight Compensation would you receive?

If your flight is cancelled you have the right to reimbursement, re-routing or return, as well as the right to assistance and a right to compensation

That means you should be offered the option of a refund,rerouting and compensation.

Rerouting can be with the original airline or any other one .

Flight Compensation


  • €250 for flights of 1500km or less
  • €400 For flights between 1500 and 3500km
  • €600 flights over 3500 km


The above compensation is above your ticket refund if you select a refund instead of rerouting.


You’re not entitled to compensation:

  • if you are informed more than 14 days in advance
  • if you are informed between 2 weeks and 7 days before the scheduled departure and you are offered re-routing which would allow you:
    • to depart no more than 2 hours before the original scheduled time of departure and
    • to reach your final destination less than 4 hours after the original scheduled time of arrival
  • if you are informed less than 7 days before the scheduled departure and are offered re-routing which would allow you:
    • to depart no more than 1 hour before the original scheduled time of departure and
    • to reach your final destination less than 2 hours after the original scheduled time of arrival.

If the airline has offered you re-routing and you reach your final destination with a delay of 2, 3 or 4 hours the compensation may be reduced by 50%.


More wrinkles. But in the above cases at least you will be flying arriving without a huge time difference.


Assistance in the event of cancellation


In addition to any compensation the airline has a duty to provide a basic level of care.


Airlines should offer you and provide assistance free of charge while you wait. In the event of travel disruption, you should make yourself known to the airline, to avoid a situation where you have to make your own arrangements. Airlines should also ensure, where available, that accommodation is accessible for people with disabilities and their service dogs. The assistance to be provided includes:

  • Refreshments
  • Food
  • Accommodation (if you are rebooked to travel the next day)
  • Transport to your accommodation and return to the airport
  • 2 telephone calls, telex, fax messages or emails

If assistance is not offered and you paid for your own meals and refreshments etc., the airline should reimburse you, provided the expenses were necessary, reasonable and appropriate. You should keep all receipts for this purpose. You only have the right to assistance as long as you have to wait for re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or a return flight.

In exceptional cases, the airline may decide to limit or decline assistance if it would cause further delay to passengers waiting for an alternative or a delayed flight.


Ryanair Flight compensation EU261

This is the link to the Ryanair compensation form

Ryanair EU261 Compensation and Expense Claim Form

Easyjet flight compensation

This is the link for Easyjet

Easyjet Compensation Claim Form

Vueling Flight compensation


Vueling Flight disruption

BA Flight compensation


BA Flight cancellation compensation

Flight compensation for delays or cancellations within Europe EU 261
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Flight compensation for delays or cancellations within Europe EU 261
Flight compensation for delays or cancellations within Europe EU 261. Your rights under EU law 261/2004 in case of a delayed or canceled flight. When and what you can claim. How to claim
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