Cancelled Flight Compensation

Be aware of your air passenger rights if your flight gets cancelled and get compensated by using our Top 5 flight claim companies, which specialise in claims under European Union Regulation EC 261.

Flight cancellation compensation under EC 261

Flight cancellations can be frustrating, but knowing your air passenger rights can help. Although less common than delays, flights do get cancelled. It’s important to understand your rights and what you can do in the event of a cancellation.

What are my rights if my flight is cancelled?

  • You may receive a refund or alternative flight if your flight is cancelled.
  • You could be eligible for compensation if you’re informed of the cancellation less than 14 days before departure. The amount could range from £220/€250 to £530/€600.
  • After a delay of 2 hours, the airline must provide food and drink.
  • If your alternative flight is the next day and the reason for flight cancellation was under the airline’s control, the airline must provide hotel accommodation and transfer to/from the airport.

What to do if your flight is cancelled?

  • Get written confirmation from airline staff about the cancellation and reasons.
  • Keep your boarding pass and travel documents safe.
  • Ask for food and drink if the delay is over 2 hours.
  • Collect vouchers, receipts and any relevant documents.
  • Gather evidence of the cancellation.
  • Don’t sign anything that waives your rights.
  • Request hotel accommodation if your alternative flight is the next day.
  • Use our compensation calculator to check your refund and claim compensation.

If my flight is cancelled do I get a refund? 

You may be eligible for flight cancellation compensation if:

  • The airline informed you of the cancellation less than 14 days before departure.
  • You had a confirmed flight reservation.
  • You arrived at your final destination significantly later than planned due to an alternative flight provided by the airline.
  • You departed from an EU airport or arrived at an EU airport with an EU-based airline.
  • You arrived at the check-in counter on time, usually not less than 45 minutes before the flight.
  • The flight was cancelled less than 3 years ago.
  • The airline is responsible for the cancellation, meaning it was within their control.
  • It doesn’t matter if the airline provided food or vouchers.

When the flight is considered to be cancelled?

When the plane doesn’t take off from the airport, it’s considered a cancelled flight under EU regulation EC 261. Airlines can cancel flights for various reasons such as bad weather or security risks. If your flight is cancelled, you may receive compensation under the regulation. It’s important to note that a cancelled flight is different from a delayed flight, which means the flight departs later than scheduled.

How much compensation for the cancelled flight can I get?

If an airline cancels your flight and you were told about it less than 14 days before departure, you might be able to get a flight cancellation compensation under EU law EC 261. The refund amount depends on factors like the distance of the flight, the delay time, and if the flight is within the EU.

Under 2 hours2 – 3 hours3 – 4 hoursOver 4 hoursNever arrivedDistance
£111/€125£220/€250£220/€250£220/€250£220/€2501,500 km or less
£178/€200£178/€200£350/€400£350/€400£350/€400Internal EU flights more than 1,500 km
£178/€200£178/€200£350/€400£350/€400£350/€400Non-internal EU flights 1,500 – 3,500 km
£260/€300£260/€300£260/€300£530/€600£530/€600Non-internal EU flights more than 3,500 km

The airline can avoid paying compensation for a cancelled flight when it offers you an alternative flight if the following criteria are met:

Notice about a cancelled flightRe-routing Requirements
14 days before the scheduled departure dateNone
Between 7 and 14 days before the scheduled departure dateThe departure of alternative flight no more than 2 hours before the original scheduled time and arriving less than 4 hours after the original scheduled time.
Less than 7 days before the scheduled departure dateThe departure of alternative flight no more than 1 hour before the original scheduled time and arriving less than 2 hours after the original scheduled time.

Check the amount of flight cancellation compensation with our flight compensation calculator.

Cancelled flight: ticket refund or alternative flight?

Airlines are required to inform you about cancelled flights as soon as possible and offer you an alternative flight.

If airlines inform you more than 14 days before departure, they still must offer you a replacement flight or a full refund.

If your flight is cancelled, you can choose one of these options:

  • Get a refund of the initial ticket price.
  • Get a return flight to the point you departed from, and a refund or partial refund of the ticket price.
  • Get alternative transport within a reasonable time frame.
  • Get alternative transport at a later date.

Full or partial refund

If you haven’t used any part of your ticket, you can get a full refund for the ticket price. However, if you’ve already started your journey and part of the ticket remains unused, you can get a refund for the unused portion. If you have already used part of your ticket, but the cancelled flight affects your travel plans, you might also be eligible for a full refund. The airline must also offer you a return flight to your original departure point as soon as possible, and you should receive your refund within 7 days according to the EU Regulation EC 261.

Earliest alternative transport

The airline must offer you a new means of transport to get to your final destination as soon as possible. Under EC 261 this alternative transport must be under comparable transport conditions.

Alternative transport on a convenient date for you

If it’s easier for you, you can choose to use a different mode of transportation to get to your destination on a different day. However, it’s important to note that under EC 261, this alternative method of travel must be similar in terms of conditions to your original travel plans.

In addition, if the airline offers you an alternative flight to a different airport, they must also provide transportation to take you to your original airport or a nearby location if you agree to it.

What if my flight was cancelled during my business trip?

Some people believe that if a company purchased the flight ticket, the company is entitled to receive compensation for a cancelled flight, but this is a misconception. For real, the passenger who actually travelled is the one who is eligible for compensation, regardless of whether they are an employee or a public official.

Air passenger rights: food, drinks and accommodation

If your flight is delayed for more than 2 hours for any reason, the airline must provide you with food and drinks under EC 261 regulations. Additionally, you should be given access to communication methods like the internet, telephone or fax. If your replacement flight is scheduled for the following day and the reason for cancellation was under the airline’s control, the airline must also provide you with accommodation and transportation to and from the airport.

What if I get a higher or lower class seat on the alternative flight?

If the airline offers you a higher class seat on your alternative flight, you don’t have to pay additionally. However, if the offered seat is of a lower class, you may get 30 – 75%  reimbursement of your price you paid for the ticket.

How to get compensation for a cancelled flight?

To determine if you qualify for flight cancellation compensation, you need to do some research which can be quite challenging. It’s not easy to access databases or find similar cases. This can be especially difficult for individuals without legal expertise or the required access. Furthermore, not all airlines are eager to pay out flight compensation even when they must pay it.

A simpler option is to use one of our Top 5 claim companies to apply for cancelled flight compensation. You can also use our flight delay compensation calculator to get an estimate of the amount you may be eligible to receive.

For which flights can I get compensation under EU Regulation EC 261?

If your flight is cancelled in Europe, you are likely eligible for compensation. This includes flights departing from or arriving at airports in EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, and certain distant regions like French Guiana and the Canary Islands.

There’s one condition for flights outside the EU though: the airline must be based in the EU.

What are extraordinary circumstances for flight cancellation?

According to EU law EC 261, airlines are not responsible for cancelled flights when they are cancelled due to “extraordinary circumstances”. These include situations such as medical emergencies, severe weather, strikes by airport employees or air traffic controllers, air traffic control restrictions, sudden airport radar malfunction, political unrest, and acts of terrorism. However, in April 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that strikes by internal airline staff are not considered “extraordinary circumstances”.

Missed connecting flight due to cancellation

The eligibility for a missed flight compensation and the amount of compensation you can receive depends on several factors, including your departure and arrival locations, whether your flight was operated by an EU airline, which flight was cancelled, and whether all flights were booked together. If you purchased all your flights under the same booking, the missed connection rules under EC 261 will generally apply.

If you were departing from or arriving in Europe on an EU-based airline, your entire journey should be covered, and the compensation amount will depend on the total journey. However, some EU courts may interpret the EC 261 regulation differently and exclude prior connecting flights from the eligible distance.