air passengers rights

This section will help you understand your rights. The law applies and what you are entitled to if your flight was delayed, cancelled, overbooked or you were denies boarding.

The EU law provides you with significant rights on many flights from, to or within the European Union. The law also covers if your flight was planned to a country outside the European Union.

To be covered by EU law, your flight must be either:

  • departing from an EU airport and operated by an EU based airline, or
  • arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU based airline
  • This covers almost all the airlines flyign from the EU airports, including, Ryanair, Easy Jet, British Airways, Alitalia, Airlingus, Qatar, Emirates, Ittehad, Air China, Air India, PIA, Jet 2, Flybe, Monarch Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air America, Delta, Air France,  and many more.

Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

EU Countries Includes

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • The Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Other countries

Although these countries are not in the EU, the rules still apply to them:

  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Switzerland

If you book with one airline but fly with another (a ‘codeshare flight’) then it’s the nationality of the airline operating the flight that counts.

There are number of changes to the law over the last few years due to cases being heard in the European Court.  The following guidelines summarise the existing case law and consolidate all ongoing practices. Of particular relevance are:

  • Compensation for delay: the right of compensation after a delay of 3 hours at the final destination.
  • Compensation for missed connecting flight: the right of compensation in case of long delay at arrival due to missed connecting flights.
  • Extraordinary circumstances: various situations such as technical defects linked to the premature malfunction of certain components of an aircraft or aircraft collisions with other aircraft/devices whereby airlines cannot be exempted from the payment of compensation in case of cancellation and delay.
  • Measures to be taken in extraordinary circumstances: the right to assistance and care during exceptional events such as the “ash cloud” in 2010.

Not covered?

If your flight isn’t covered by EU law, you may still be entitled to compensation or assistance.

The length of your flight is important

The length of your flight determines many of your rights, so it’s a good idea to check which category your flight falls into:

  • Short-haul flights under 1,500km – for example, Glasgow to Dublin.
  • Medium-haul flights between 1,500km — 3,500km – for example, Birmingham to Casablanca.
  • Long-haul flights over 3,500km – for example, London to Dubai or New York.

Your rights !

If  your flight was delayed or cancelled the EU law provides you grounds for compensation, you can claim money depending on the length of the delay.

  • For delays of under three hours, you cannot claim compensation
  • For flight delays of three to four hours, you can claim €300
  • If delay is more than four hours, you can claim €600

The delay length is calculated using the time the flight arrives at its destination (this is based on the time at which at least one door of the aircraft is opened) — not the departure time.

How it works in practice

If you think you that the airline shall compensate you for your delayed or cancelled flight, you will need to lodge a claim and we can help you lodge a claim and take care rest of the process.

We will write a letter before action to the airline giving them 14 days notice. If we do not hear from the airline, we will take the matter to the court. You do not have to worry about anything as we will appear in the court on your behalf. Once the court issues an order the airline will compensate and we will transfer your money into your account within 30 days.

Delayed flights: your rights

If your flight is delayed, EU law says your airline must provide food, drink and accommodation, including compensation of up to 600 euros, depending on the distance.

Cancelled flights: your rights

If your flight has been cancelled, your airline must offer you the choice of a refund or alternative flight.

Under EU law an airline is not allowed to leave you high and dry if they cancel a long-haul flight that you are booked on. Any flight that covers over 3,500 km is long-haul. However, these rules only apply to certain flights to or from the EU.

What are my options?

If your cancelled long-haul flight is covered by EU law, your airline must let you choose between two options:

1. Receive a refund

You can get your money back for all parts of the ticket you haven’t used. For instance, if you have booked a return flight and the outbound leg is cancelled, you can get the full cost of the return ticket back from your airline.

2. Choose an alternative flight

If you still want to travel, your airline must find you an alternative flight. It’s up to you whether to fly as soon as possible after the cancelled flight, or at a later date that suits you. Airlines often refer to this as being ‘rerouted’.

Although most airlines will book you onto another of their flights to the same destination, if an alternative airline is flying there significantly sooner then you may have the right to be booked onto that flight instead. You can discuss this with your airline.

Care and assistance

If you choose an alternative flight you are also entitled to care and assistance. This usually means food, drink, access to communication (this could be by refunding the reasonable cost of phone calls) and accommodation (if necessary).

Compensation

If you received less than 14 days’ notice of the cancellation, you may be able to claim compensation too.

This depends on what caused the cancellation – if it wasn’t the airline’s fault, don’t expect to receive anything. Delays caused by things like extreme weather, airport or air traffic control employee strikes or other ‘extraordinary circumstances’ are not eligible for compensation.

Seven to 14 days’ notice

If you received seven to 14 days’ notice of the cancellation, you can claim compensation based on the timings of the alternative flight:

  • If your new flight arrives more than four hours after your original flight, you can claim €600 – no matter what time it departs.
  • Flight departs more than two hours before your original flight, and arrives less than four hours after it, you can claim €300.

Less than seven days’ notice:

If you received less than seven days’ notice of the cancellation, you can claim compensation based on the timings of the alternative flight:

  • If your new flight arrives more than four hours after your original flight, you can claim €600 – no matter what time it departs.
  • And it departs more than one hour before your original flight, and arrives less than four hours after it, you can claim €300.

You can only claim compensation if your cancelled flight matches one of the situations described above. All compensation figures are per person.

Being downgraded: your rights

If you are downgraded, your airline must reimburse you. The amount you receive is calculated as a percentage of what you paid for your ticket, and depends on the length of your flight:

  • For short-haul flights of less than 1,500km, you will receive 30% of the price of the flight.
  • Medium-haul; of 1,500km – 3,500km, or flights within the EU of more than 1,500km, you will receive 50% of the price of the flight.
  • And long haul flights of more than 3,500km, you will receive 75% of the price of the flight.

It is likely you will only receive a refund for the portion of your journey that was downgraded. For example, if you booked a return ticket for £500, but were only downgraded on the return leg, your reimbursement may be calculated as a percentage of £250.

Missed connections: your rights under the 261

Many flights involve connections, this is when you have to take more than one flight to reach your destination. For example, you might fly from London to Dubai and, then from Dubai to Thailand .

Under the EU legislation, you may be entitled to compensation from your airline if you miss a connection. To be covered by these rules, your flight must be either:

  • depart from an EU airport and operated by any airline
    or
  • arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline

If your journey involves flights with airlines from different countries, it’s generally the nationality of the airline at fault that determines your rights. For instance, if a delay on your first flight causes you to miss your second, it’s the airline operating the first flight that is responsible.

Are you on a through ticket?

Your airline is only required to provide compensation if you are booked on a through ticket or single ticket. This means you have “one reservation reference” for your entire journey. If you or your travel agent booked the flights separately, then you are not covered by these rules. However, you still may be entitled to reimbursement.