EU 261/2004 regulation explained – Your Flight Delay Compensation rights

When going on a holidays the worst start is a delayed flight which causes the holidaymaker to lose part of the first day. It also causes knock on effects with regard to transit arrangements. Regulation 261/2004. European Commission Regulation 261/2004 is a regulation establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays of flights. It repealed Regulation (EEC) No 295/91, and went into effect on 17 February 2005. The compensation amount is not dependent of your ticket price, but of the distance and destination of your flight.

best airline for compensation

Flight Delay Regulations apply to anybody (regardless of age or nationality) whose flight departs from an airport based in an EU country or whose flight arrives into an EU country and is operated by an EU airline. That means any flights taking off from the UK, or landing in the UK on an EU airline are always covered.

Does my delay qualify to claim for flight compensation under EU261/2004?

If you want to claim flight compensation the first thing to do is to check whether the cause of your delay/cancellation is claimable. What was your flight distance? What was the exact length of your delay? What were the weather conditions like on the day of your flight and may extraordinary circumstances have been a factor in your delay or cancellation?

Regulation 261/2004 states that airlines do not have to pay compensation for delays which are caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’. An extraordinary circumstance is defined as something that is:

  • Not inherent in the normal activity of the airline, and
  • Outside the control of the airline.

With the hundreds of delays that occur every day, it is difficult to understand or know whether any of the extraordinary circumstances listed could impact your claim. Unless you were delayed due to Volcanic Activity or other extreme natural disaster, or you know that the weather conditions were extremely poor (snow, ice, fog) it is worth submitting a claim to see if you are eligible for compensation.

The recent British Airways glitch would, in our view, be deemed not to be extraordinary circumstances and would result in a claim if the delay exceeded 3 hours. It is thought that up to 75,000 passengers may be involved with delays because of aircraft being delayed or in the wrong place.

In a recent case Jet2 vs. Huzar, the English Court of Appeal ordinary technical problems that cause flight delay/ cancellation such as wear and tear and component problems are not extraordinary circumstances. Faults found during routine maintenance checks before departure will not qualify as extraordinary circumstances.

How much can i claim?

The compensation amount is determined by Regulation (EC) 261/2004 and is dependent on a number of variables. We calculate your compensation based on the distance of your flight and the length of your delay. The regulations apply to all European and non-European airlines, but if your flight departed from a non-EU airport there are some additional conditions the flight must meet. If you’re flying from a non-European airport to a European airport, the operating airline must be European in order for you to qualify for compensation. Of course, this is something we will check if you submit your claim with Flight Delay Pay.

Aside from financial compensation you are also entitled to receive care from the airline in the event of a delay, cancellation or overbooking. This includes food, drinks and/or refreshments, two free phone calls, fax messages or emails, and in some cases hotel accommodation. If you incur expenses at the airport as a result of not receiving this care, you may be entitled to a refund for these costs.

Is the three hour delay the time the flight leaves or arrives? In Germanwings GmbH v Ronny Henning it was deemed that the time is taken from the moment the first door is opened upon landing.

Flight Delay Compensation Amounts

If your flight is delayed or if you miss a connecting flight and arrive at your final destination more than three hours later than scheduled then you are entitled to compensation in line with the amounts shown below:-

Flight Distance Length of Delay Compensation Amount
Up to 1,500 kms 3 hrs or more €250
1,501kms – 3,500 kms 3 hrs or more €400
Over 3,500 kms
Between 2 member states
3 hrs or more €400
Over 3,500 kms 3 to 4 hrs €300
Over 3,500 kms 4 hrs or more €600


Flight Cancellation Compensation Amounts

If your flight was cancelled less than seven days before departure or if you were rerouted to your final destination then you are entitled to the following amounts:-

Flight Length 0-1,500 kms eg London to Paris
Delay Leaves 1 hr + before, lands up to 2 hrs later 2 hrs + late
Compensation €125 €250
Flight Length 1,501-3,500 kms eg London to Istanbul
Delay Leaves 1 hr + before, lands up to 3 hrs later 2 hrs + late
Compensation €200 €400
Flight Length 3,501 km eg London to New York
Delay Leaves 1 hr + before, lands up to 4 hrs later 4 hrs + late
Compensation €300 €600


Flight Delay Pay can handle your flight delay compensation claims on your behalf from start to finish on a no-win no-fee basis. If you would like to instruct Flight Delay Pay to handle your claim then all you need to do is to submit a claim form on our website. It takes no longer than a few minutes to complete. online. We will then verify your flight details for compensation and report back on your prospects of a successfully claim if we think it is valid. www.