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FAQ - Air passenger rights

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General questions

Flight cancellation

Flight delay

Denied boarding

Answers

General questions

When does the European air passenger protection apply?
Regulation 261/2004 always applies when you depart from any airport located in the EU State Members, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland. When you depart from an airport on the territory of a different state, the European law protects you in case that the flight is operated by a carrier who holds an operating license issued by an EU Member State.

Does a carrier have to inform me about the extent of my rights?
In case that the carrier cancels the flight or expects a delay of more than 2 hours or denies boarding to a passenger, it is obliged to provide the affected passengers with a written notice containing information about their rights.

Who can I contact when I think that the carrier breached his obligations and I want to lodge a complaint?
Each Member State is obliged to designate an appropriate body to enforce Regulation No 261/2004 on its territory. A list of these bodies is available here. Competencies of the supervisory authorities differ in every country. These authorities are not always competent to make decisions in particular disputes between carriers and passengers. Usually, the authorities have the right to apply financial sanctions in case of detected violations.

Can the ECC help me?

The European Consumer Centre can provide you with general information about your rights and it can also help find an amicable solution of an existing dispute with a particular carrier.

Flight cancellation

What are my rights when the flight to which my reservation was confirmed is cancelled?
When the flight is cancelled, the airline must provide you with re-routing and necessary care (for more information about re-routing and care see below). If you do not agree with the re-routing provided, you have the right for refund of the amount paid for your ticket. You have the right for financial compensation in specific cases.

What is re-routing?
Re-routing means provision of alternative transport under comparable transport conditions at the earliest opportunity or on a later date if agreed so.

What care is the carrier obliged to provide to passengers whose flight was cancelled?
Operating air carrier is obliged to provide refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time. In cases where overnight stay becomes necessary, the carrier is obliged to provide accommodation and transportation to and from the place of accommodation (hotel or other). The carrier is also obliged to offer two free of charge telephone calls as well as fax messages or e-mails.

Under what circumstances am I entitled to financial compensation?
You are entitled to financial compensation when flight cancellation was not announced in sufficient advance. Financial compensation applies to passengers who:

  • Were not informed of the cancellation at the least 2 weeks before the scheduled time of departure, or
  • Were not informed of the cancellation in the period between two weeks and seven days before the time of departure and the carrier did not offer re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than 2 hours before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than four hours after scheduled arrival time, or
  • Were informed of the cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure and the carrier did not offer re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival.

Can the carrier avoid the obligations to pay financial compensation?
Yes. The carrier is not obliged to provide financial compensation if the flight cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. These circumstances are usually as follows: bad weather, strikes, air traffic control restrictions, actions of state authorities etc. Conversely, technical problems usually are not considered extraordinary circumstances.

What amount of compensation am I eligible for?
If the conditions are fulfilled, the carrier is obliged to provide:

  • 250 EUR for all flights of maximum 1,500 km
  • 400 EUR or all flights of more than 1,500 km within the EU and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km
  • 600 EUR for all other flights

The carrier may reduce the provided compensation by 50% when passengers are offered re-routing on an alternative flight and reach their final destination no later than:

  • Two hours in case of all flights of less than 1,500 km or
  • Three hours in case of all flights of more than 1,500 km within the EU, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km or
  • Four hours in case of all other flights

Flight delay

What rights do I have when the flight was delayed?
If certain conditions for cases of significantly delayed flights are fulfilled, passengers have the right to care or reimbursement of flight ticket price as well as for financial compensation

How long does the flight have to be delayed so that I am entitled to care from the carrier?

  • Two hours in case of all flights of less than 1,500 km or
  • Three hours in case for all flights of more than 1,500 km within the EU, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km or
  • Four hours in case of all other flights

What care is the carrier obliged to provide to passengers when significant flight delay is expected?
Operating carrier is obliged to provide refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time. In cases where overnight stay becomes necessary, the carrier is obliged to provide accommodation and transportation to and from the place of accommodation (hotel or other). The carrier is also obliged to offer two free of charge telephone calls as well as fax messages or e-mails.

Can the carrier avoid the obligation to provide care when the delay is caused by if the flight cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken, for example weather condition, strikes etc.?
No.

Can I cancel my journey in case of significant delay? Does the carrier have to reimburse the amount paid for the flight ticket?
You can cancel the journey without sanction when the expected delay is at least 5 hours. In this case, the carrier is obliged to reimburse the amount paid for the flight ticket. This applies also to passengers who booked their tickets that cannot be returned or changed due to tariff conditions. If you choose reimbursement, you automatically lose the right to free care from the carrier.

Do I have the right to financial compensation in case of significant flight delay even if I decide to take the flight despite it as delayed?
The ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union says that you have the right to compensation similarly as in case of flight cancellation, when you reach your final destination three hours or more after the scheduled time of arrival. The amount of financial compensation is the same as in case of flight cancellation. The carrier is not obliged to pay any compensation when the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

Denied boarding

What does “denied boarding” mean?
Carriers sometimes sell more flight tickets than there are seats in the airplane. Based on experience, they know that not all passengers aboard the flight. However, if there are more passengers than the number of seats, then the carrier shall first call for volunteers to surrender their reservations. The carrier offers re-routing or reimbursement of the flight ticket. In case that no volunteers come forward, the carrier will select passengers to be excluded from transport and to be denied boarding.

What are my rights when the carrier denies me boarding the flight which I have a valid ticket for?
You are entitled for financial compensation, re-routing to alternative transport or reimbursement of the flight ticket price, or for care for the period of waiting time before alternative flight.

What conditions do I have to fulfil?
You must have a valid flight ticket with a confirmed reservation on the flight which the carrier denied you to board. Furthermore, you have to check-in within time limits determined by the carrier. If the carrier has not designated the check-in time, you must check in at least 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time. You also must comply with other conditions of transport. The carrier will not have any obligations towards you in case that you will be rightfully excluded from transport. It can happen, for example, when the passenger does not have any valid travel documents, his/her health makes safe flight impossible, the passenger behaves inappropriately etc.

What amount of financial compensation am I eligible for?
The amount of financial compensation is the same as in case of flight cancellation.

When I am denied boarding, do I have the right to both re-routing and reimbursement of flight ticket?
No. The passenger can choose between re-routing and reimbursement of the flight ticket. The carrier can provide refreshments and potential accommodation only to those passengers who choose re-routing.

Do I have the right to compensation when I sign up as a volunteer in case that the airplane is overcrowded?
You have the right for such amount of compensation on which you agree with the carrier.

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