EU Regulation 261/2004

Travelling can be filled with challenges, particularly when unexpected problems like flight delays or cancellations arise. Fortunately, for those travelling within the European Union (EU), there’s some fantastic news: you have the opportunity to claim compensation under the provisions of EC 261/2004. This means that you can receive financial compensation that aims to alleviate the inconvenience you encountered during your journey. Don’t miss out on the chance to seek the compensation you deserve!

What is EC 261/2004 compensation?

The Flight Compensation Regulation 2004 (EC) No 261/2004 is a regulation in EU law establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to air passengers in the event of denied boarding due to overbooked flight, flight cancellations and delays, missed connecting flights due to delays.

Eligibility criteria

It’s important to note that not all flight delays qualify for compensation under EC 261/2004. While these are some of the most common situations, it’s advisable to consult a flight compensation company, which you may select from our best claim companies list, to determine if you have a valid claim.

  1. Delays exceeding three hours
  2. Cancellations made less than 14 days prior to the scheduled flight
  3. Denied boarding due to overbooking or other airline responsibilities

If you’re unsure about your eligibility, it’s always worth checking. Airlines won’t automatically provide compensation, so it’s up to you to pursue it.

Who is covered

These regulations apply to all passengers departing from an airport within the European Union (EU), making most continental flights eligible. In some cases, it may also apply when flying into Europe from destinations outside the EU, although this varies.

Ultimately, the airline is responsible for ensuring timely departures to avoid unnecessary delays. These compensation settlements impact their profits, motivating them to minimise costly delays. It’s important to note that missing your flight or being denied boarding due to lateness will not qualify you for compensation. Remember, the circumstances surrounding the situation matter.

Flight delay compensation overview

To determine the compensation you’re entitled to, the amount is fixed based on the distance of your trip. Remember, your flight must either depart from or arrive in the European Union to qualify.

Breakdown of flight compensation

Here’s a general breakdown of the potential compensation amounts when you file a claim. Keep in mind that the final amount depends on various factors such as distance travelled, duration of delay, and more.

  • Flights under 1,500 km: €250
  • Flights within the EU over 1,500 km: €400
  • Flights to or from the EU between 1,500 km and 3,500 km: €400
  • Flights to or from the EU over 3,500 km: €600

These are the base compensation rates, and you may also be eligible for additional benefits like accommodation. It’s in your best interest to file a claim. You may also check, how much flight compensation you may be eligible to with our flight delay compensation calculator.

Types of flight compensation

Under EC 261/2004, the most common types of compensation are related to denied boarding, flight cancellations, and delays.

  1. Denied boarding: if you’re denied boarding due to reasons beyond your control, such as overbooking, you may be entitled to receive €250-€600 for the inconvenience.
  2. Flight cancellation: if your flight is cancelled, you may be eligible to claim up to €600. Flights up to three years old may qualify, but flights cancelled due to COVID-19 are not eligible.
  3. Flight delays: for delays of three hours or more, you may be eligible to receive up to €600 in compensation. This includes flights that arrive more than three hours late, provided you checked in on time.

Remember, although you are entitled to this compensation under EC 261/2004, airlines are unlikely to offer it unless you specifically request it. They may even challenge your claim, so be prepared to advocate for your rights.

Flight coverage under EC 261/2004

Understanding which flights are covered by EU Regulation EC 261/2004 is crucial to knowing your rights. While most flights to Europe fall under this regulation, there are a few exceptions. Here’s a simplified explanation:

EU air carriers

If your flight involves any connection within the European Union, you’re likely covered. This includes:

  • Flights within the EU
  • Flights from the EU to destinations outside the EU
  • Flights from outside the EU to destinations within the EU

Remember, regardless of your nationality, if your airline is EU-based and your departure or destination is within the EU, you can claim compensation of up to €600. Don’t hesitate to assert your rights.

Non-EU carriers

Things get a bit more complicated when it comes to airlines not based in the European Union. Coverage will depend on certain factors:

  • If you’re flying within the EU or from the EU to outside the EU, you’re covered.
  • If your flight originates outside the EU or you’re flying outside the EU entirely, you may not be covered.

To put it simply, if you’re travelling within the EU or have a connection in the EU, it’s worth filing a claim to seek compensation for any losses you’ve experienced.

Flights not covered by EC 261/2004

It’s important to understand the situations where EC 261/2004 may not apply to your flight. The regulation clearly states that the issue must be within the airline’s control, and your trip must involve the European Union (EU) to qualify for compensation.

Carrier limitations

Flights that are outside the EU, even if you’re flying with an EU-based carrier, are generally not eligible. Similarly, flights from outside the EU to inside the EU operated by non-EU carriers may not be covered. However, there could be an exception if your EU-based carrier includes an EU connection.

Extraordinary circumstances

Certain circumstances that are beyond the airline’s control may exempt you from compensation. These include:

  • Weather-related issues
  • Airport or air traffic control strikes
  • Political unrest
  • Security risks

If the airline can demonstrate that they took reasonable measures to prevent these issues, they will not be held responsible. However, it doesn’t hurt to file a claim, as it is the airline’s responsibility to prove their case. The definition of extraordinary circumstances is subject to ongoing evaluation by lawmakers, so this list may change over time.

Understanding air passenger rights under EC 261/2004 for European flights

EC 261/2004 offers important benefits and rights to passengers travelling within the European Union. It ensures that you receive financial compensation for delays, cancellations, and denied boardings. However, it goes beyond just compensation and also ensures fair treatment by the airlines.

Airline passenger rights

When checking in for your flight within the EU, keep an eye out for information regarding EC 261/2004. Every airline operating in the EU is legally required to display this regulation to help you understand your rights. While they may not proactively inform you about it, being aware of your entitlements can make negotiations easier. It’s important to note that accepting alternative accommodations or vouchers may affect your ability to make a claim under EC 261/04.

Flight reimbursement rights

If your delay exceeds five hours, you don’t have to wait to file a claim. You have the right to a full or partial refund and a return flight to your original departure point, if applicable. Additionally, during the waiting period, the airline is obligated to provide you with basic necessities, including:

  • Meals and refreshments
  • Communication facilities (such as calls, faxes, and emails)
  • Overnight accommodation (where applicable)
  • Transportation (where applicable)

The duration of your delay determines the extent of reimbursement rights:

  • All flights of 1,500 km or less: 2 hours or more delay
  • Internal EU flights over 1,500 km: 3 hours or more delay
  • Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km: 3 hours or more delay
  • Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 km: 4 hours or more delay

It’s worth noting that being entitled to a minimum of €600 in compensation doesn’t limit your ability to claim additional compensation for distress. If you believe you deserve further compensation, you can contact the airline’s customer service. However, be aware that voluntarily surrendering your reservation may waive your rights under EC 261/2004.

Understanding air passenger rights under EC 261/2004 for international flights

EC 261/2004 extends beyond EU to EU flights, meaning that even if you’re travelling internationally, you may still be eligible for compensation if your flight has a connection within the European Union.

Here’s how it works:

  • If your airline is based in the EU, you’re generally covered in most situations.
  • If your airline is based outside the EU, you’ll still be covered if your flight originates within the EU.
  • In some cases, your flight may also be covered if it includes a connection within the EU.

Keep in mind that there may be exceptions to these rules, but it’s always worth filing a claim to explore your options. You have nothing to lose by trying.

Time limit to file a flight claim under EU Regulation EC 261/2004

When it comes to filing a claim under EC 261/2004, it’s crucial to do so within the specified time limit, which can vary from country to country. Remember, you should file your claim in the country where the airline is based, not your country of nationality, departure, or arrival. Filing in the wrong country can cause delays in receiving your compensation, so knowing the airline’s base is important.

The time limits for making claims can range from 1 to 10 years, depending on the country. However, there may be exceptions to this general rule. It’s advisable to familiarise yourself with the specific time limit applicable to your case.

The simplified manner to file a claim is to use a flight compensation companies service – just choose the one from our Top 5 claim agencies list.

Refunds & flight ticket replacements

Dealing with flight delays and cancellations can be frustrating, and airlines may offer certain accommodations or alternatives. However, it’s important to be cautious before accepting any offers, as doing so voluntarily may limit your entitlement to further compensation. If you plan on filing a claim later on, it’s advisable not to voluntarily give up your seat.

In situations where there are delays, cancellations, or denied boarding due to overbooking, you have the right to request a refund of your fare and a return flight to your original departure point if you have a connecting flight. It’s crucial to know your options and make informed decisions.

How to make your EC 261/2004 flight claim?

Many people don’t realise they can claim compensation for flight delays, allowing airlines to escape responsibility. Don’t be one of them. You have the right to be compensated under EU law for the inconvenience caused to you.

If you choose to file a claim on your own, it may not be an easy process. Airlines often resist, and you may even have to go to court. However, in most cases, they eventually settle, although it can take time.

Alternatively, you can seek assistance from specialised organisations such as flight compensation companies. On our website, you can find a list of the top 5 companies that handle flight claims. These companies have a deep understanding of EC 261/2004, and once you provide your information, they will fight the airline on your behalf. They charge a fee based on your compensation, and if you don’t win, you owe them nothing. If the case goes to court, the litigation fees are often covered by the company. They handle all the work for you, and you can simply enjoy your settlement when it arrives.

Both options can help you obtain the compensation you deserve under EC 261/2004. Just remember to file your claim within the specified time window.