If the airline cancels your flight, you have the right to be refunded for the ticket price, or the right to be re-routed and the right to care. You may also have the right to compensation paid by the airline. Find out how much compensation you can claim and what you can do if the airline turns your claim down.
If the airline cancels a flight you have booked, you have the right to be refunded for the ticket price, or the right to be re-routed and the right to care. A flight which has been brought forward by more than one hour is considered a cancelled flight. The airline has a duty to tell you about your rights.
When your flight is cancelled, you have two alternatives
If you choose to have the ticket price refunded, the airline must refund you within seven days. The airline must refund the ticket price for each part of the journey you did not make and for any parts you have already made if the flight no longer serves a purpose considering your original travel plan.
In this case, you are entitled to a free return flight to the point of departure shown on your ticket if you have to cancel the journey during a stopover.
If you choose to have your flight re-routed, the airline must offer a replacement flight on similar terms to your destination
- as soon as possible, or
- at a later date that suits you (for example, a week later), if seats are available.
The re-routing is not limited to the aircraft of the airline in question, or to the same mode of transport. This means that the airline may offer to re-route you using some other mode of transport. You may refuse alternative modes of transport, however.
Right to care
While you are waiting for your replacement trip, you have the right to care. The airline must provide care for you while you are waiting for the re-routed trip. You always have the right to care, regardless of why the airline cancelled the flight.
If you have chosen the refund option instead of rerouting, you give up your right to care. However, you are entitled to care during the time you have to wait for a free return flight to your original point of departure.
The duty of care includes:
- meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time
- hotel accommodation if you need an additional overnight stay
- transport between the airport and a hotel
- two free telephone calls or email messages.
If the airline cancels your flight, you may have the right to standard compensation as set out in the Table below. The standard compensation makes up for your loss of time.
If the airline has not offered you standard compensation, you should claim it as soon as possible.
Standard compensation amounts vary from EUR 250 to EUR 600
The compensation amount depends on the duration of the flight and the delay caused by re-routing. The airline may pay the compensation in cash, by bank transfer, by cheque or, if the passenger agrees to this in writing, as vouchers or other services.
|Distance||Delay at destination||Compensation|
|Less than 1,500 km||0 to 2 hours||EUR 125|
|Less than 1,500 km||Over 2 hours||EUR 250|
|Flight within the EU of over 1,500 km, or flight to a destination outside the EU of between 1,500 and 3,000 km||0 to 3 hours||EUR 200|
|Flight within the EU of over 1,500 km, or flight to a destination outside the EU of between 1,500 and 3,000 km||Oer 3 hours||EUR 400|
|Flight to or from a destination outside the EU (outbound/inbound), distance of over 3,500 km||0 to 4 hours||EUR 300|
|Flight to or from a destination outside the EU|
(outbound/inbound), distance of over 3,500 km
|Over 4 hours||EUR 600|
When do you not have the right to standard compensation?
You will not have the right to compensation if you have been informed of the flight cancellation in good time, or the reason for the cancellation is extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
You do not have the right to standard compensation if you have been informed of the flight cancellation
- at least two weeks before departure time
- between two weeks and 7 days before departure time, and you have been offered re-routing with a departure time that is at most two hours earlier than on the original flight and an arrival time at the destination that is less than four hours later than scheduled
- less than seven days before the departure time, and you have been offered re-routing with a departure time that is at most an hour earlier than on the original flight and an arrival time at the destination that is less than two hours later than scheduled.
The right to standard compensation does not apply when the flight has been cancelled because of extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Examples of extraordinary circumstances are unsuitable weather conditions for flying, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings, political instability and an ATM decision resulting in flight cancellation. Extraordinary circumstances are examined in each individual case.
Under case law, a technical fault in the aircraft is rarely a valid reason for not paying standard compensation. Technical faults caused by premature failure of components cannot be considered exceptional, even when they are unexpected. Legal or spontaneous strikes of the airline’s staff are also not valid reasons for not paying standard compensation.
If the airline refuses to pay standard compensation to a passenger, it must be able to show that the incident was not inherent in the normal exercise of the carrier’s activity and that it was beyond the carrier’s control. Such cases include technical failures affecting flight safety caused by sabotage, a terrorist act or hidden manufacturing fault affecting more than one aircraft in the same fleet, which has been notified by the manufacturer or the aviation safety authority. A bird strike and any damage resulting from it are considered extraordinary circumstances.
The airline has a duty to show that the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances and that it could not have been avoided by reasonable measures. The measures the airline took or could reasonably have taken in the situation consequently affect its liability for compensation.
Damages for losses caused by delayed carriage
If your flight was part of a package:
- You can claim standard compensation for a cancelled or delayed flight and denied boarding in the same way as for scheduled flights you booked yourself. If you claim standard compensation based on these rights laid down in the EC Regulation, you must file your claim with the airline that operated the flight.
- In addition, you can claim compensation for defects in the trip from the tour operator.
- If the standard compensation and the claim for compensation for a defect in the trip are based on the same loss of time, any standard compensation you received can be taken into account in the amount of the compensation for losses.
If the airline turns down your claims
If your flight was not as agreed, you can file a complaint with the airline. You should do this as soon as possible. If the complaint filed with the airline does not produce results, you can file a complaint with an authority.
When do these rights apply?
Passenger rights on cancellation are based on EU-law and they apply to all domestic and foreign flights, both scheduled and charter flights, departing from an EU airport. In case of flights arriving from outside the EU, these rights only apply if the flight was operated by an EU airline. The rules also apply to flights to and from Norway, Switzerland,and Iceland. Damages to be paid for losses caused by delayed carriage are governed by international agreements.
- Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights Opens in new tab Is an external link
- Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air Opens in new tab Is an external link