Your Rights

When you travel by plane, you are protected under the European regulations. Few passengers are aware of these consumer rights and many lack the legal knowledge required to claim compensation. Do you know your rights and how much compensation are you entitled to?

Regulation 261/2004 is a European Regulation establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations and delays of 3 hours or more. It sets out the entitlements of air passengers when a flight that they are scheduled to travel on is delayed or cancelled.

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your rights
your rights

The regulation applies to any passenger:

  • Departing from an EU member state, or

  • travelling to an EU member state on an airline based in an EU member state if that person has:

  • a confirmed reservation on the flight, and

  • arrived in time for check-in as indicated on the ticket or communication from the airline, or, if no time is so indicated, no less than 45 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of the flight or

  • has been transferred from the flight for which he/she held a reservation to some other flight unless

  • the passenger is travelling on a free or discounted ticket not available to the general public.

Regulation 261/2004

Regulation 261/2004 prescribes that when your flight is delayed, cancelled or overbooked, you are entitled to compensation. The compensation amount is not dependent of your ticket price, but of the distance and destination of your flight.

Determining your legal status

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? We will answer these questions for you and assess the validity of your claim. All you need to do is enter your flight details and submit the claim; we’ll do the rest.

How much can I claim?

If your flight was delayed by three or more hours and this wasn’t the result of extraordinary circumstances, you are entitled to financial compensation.

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 when you submit your claim.

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.

Flight DistanceLength of DelayCompensation Amount
Up to 1,500 kms3 hrs or more€250
1,501kms – 3,500 kms3 hrs or more€400
Over 3,500 kms
Between 2 member states
3 hrs or more€400
Over 3,500 kms3 to 4 hrs€300
Over 3,500 kms4 hrs or more€600

When rerouting is offered and passengers arrive within 2 hours for distance of less than 1500 kms, 3 hours 1,501 kms to 3,500 kms, 4 hours over 3,500kms – The compensation is halved

Extraordinary Circumstances

So you have seen or received a notification that for a delayed, cancelled or re-routed flight, you may be eligible to claim compensation. However the airline has told you, or you have concerns that, the eligibility of your claim is in question due to the term “Extraordinary Circumstances”.

We are going to explain exactly what constitutes an “Extraordinary Circumstance”, which in other words, will prevent you from bringing a claim against an airline for compensation.

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.

Do I Qualify?

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 process is hassle free and simple and it will only take you a few minutes to submit your details, we can then check your claim against weather conditions and other events to let you know if you are eligible. We have the benefit of dealing with many claims so may have records of other passengers on the same flight. This, together with separate databases, allows us to use both our records and experience to decide whether the defence of extraordinary circumstances will stand up in a Court of Law.

Valid Defences

The following extraordinary circumstances are likely to NOT warrant compensation.

Adverse Weather

If your flight was affected by adverse weather conditions, it will be much more difficult attempting to claim compensation because, under EU Regulation 261/2004, they will likely respond with an “EC” caused the issue with the flight.

Security Issues, Terrorism or Sabotage

If an act of crime, sabotage or terrorism impacts the normal operation of a flight or airport, you will be unable to claim compensation for the flight(s) affected.

Bird Strike

On the 4th May 2017 the Court of Justice for the European Union ruled that a collision between a bird and an aircraft should be classified as extraordinary under EU261/2004. [Read our blog]

Airport Closure

If the departure or arrival airport is closed for any reason (outside of security and meteorological concerns) then this will be considered as an “EC”.

Medical Emergency

In the event of a passenger or member of crew becoming seriously ill dies in flight, any diversions or delays will be defined as an extraordinary circumstance.

Hidden Manufacturing Defect

For the airline to succeed with this defence they need to provide evidence from the manufacturer to show that the fault was due to a ‘hidden manufacturing defect’.

Air Traffic Control

If air traffic management decide to suspend or restrict flight operations at the airport of departure or arrival for the delayed / cancelled flights, or air space through which the air carrier is required to operate the flight is blocked, you will be unable to claim compensation.

Military or Political Unrest

Any unforeseen disruption to the normal operation of departures / arrivals caused by war, civil war or anything defined as military / political instability will be classed as an “EC”.


If a flight is cancelled passengers are entitled to:
a) rerouting to the same destination at earliest opportunity
b) later rerouting at passenger convenience
c) refund of ticket and return flight to first departure airport
plus transport to another airport, plus refreshments plus cash compensation.

Flights cancelled less than 7 days notice before departure

Flight Length0-1,500 kms eg London to Paris
DelayLeaves 1 hr + before, lands up to 2 hrs later2 hrs + late
Flight Length1,501-3,500 kms eg London to Istanbul
DelayLeaves 1 hr + before, lands up to 3 hrs later2 hrs + late
Flight Length3,501 km eg London to New York
DelayLeaves 1 hr + before, lands up to 4 hrs later4 hrs + late

Flights cancelled less than 7-14 days notice before departure

Flight Length0-1,500 kms eg London to Paris
DelayLeaves 2 hr + before, lands up to 2 hrs later4hrs + late or leaves 2hrs + before , lands 2 hrs +after
Flight Length1,501 – 3,500 kms eg London to Istanbul
DelayLeaves 2hr+ before, lands up to 3hrs after4hrs + late or leaves 2hrs+before, lands 3-4 hrs after
Flight Length3,501 km + eg London to New York
DelayLeaves 2hr+ before, lands up to 4hrs after4hrs + late

The above payments may be avoided by the airline if they can show the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances. Benefits a) to c) are due in any event.

Denied Boarding

Before denying boarding involuntarily the airline is obliged to seek volunteers to give up their reservation in exchange for the agreed amount. If insufficient passengers are available the airline may then proceed to involuntarily deny boarding. All such passengers are entitled to three types of compensation described under a) to c) above.

Flight LengthArrival DelayCompensation Due
Up to 1,500km, (all flights), eg, London to ParisUp to 2 hours€125
Up to 1,500km, (all flights), eg, London to Paris2 hours +€250
1,501km – 3,500km (all flights), eg, Manchester – MalagaUp to 3 hours€200
1,501+ km (flights within the EU only)3 hours +€400
3,501km+ (flights between an EU and non-EU airport), eg, London to New YorkUp to 4 hours€300
3,501km+ (flights between an EU and non-EU airport), eg, London to New York4 hours +€600

Obligation to notify passengers

Airlines are obliged to notify passengers of their rights at the check-in. If an airline cancels a flight denies boarding or incurs a delay of over 2 hours it is obliged to provide each passenger with a written notice setting out their rights and contact details of the national body enforcing the regulation.

Will Brexit affect my rights to claim?

Flight delay regulations come from the EU and so it’s likely they’ll stop when the UK leaves the union. Nothing is confirmed yet though and we won’t be exiting for at least two years, probably more, so in the meantime everything here still stands. Our advice is to proceed now.