Air passenger rights in the UK and the EU
Millions of passengers used to be affected by different types of disruptions to their flights and there were barely any consequences for the airlines involved. This all changed when the European Parliament and Council created what is now known as Regulation EC 261/2004 in order to protect air passengers’ rights.
Where does my right to be compensated for a flight’s delay or cancellation come from?
The Regulation EC 261/2004 provides the rules and criteria from which it will be determined if the airlines need to pay compensation to their passengers when they’ve experienced a flight cancellation or if they have been denied boarding. It was not until the Sturgeon ruling when it was established that flight delays greater than 3 hours should be treated and compensated in a similar way as cancelled flights.
What are extraordinary circumstances and how do they affect my rights as a passenger?
However, there are exceptions to when an airline must pay compensation to its passengers, and those are named as extraordinary circumstances by the regulation itself. These circumstances can be quite different but they all consist of events that can be considered to happen outside of an airline’s sphere of control. Think about terrible weather conditions, political unrest or a serious threat to the safe operation of the flight. These ‘force majeure’ events will exonerate the airlines from paying any compensation, regardless if the disruption was a delay or a cancellation
When do my passenger rights come into effect?
If you are flying to or from the European Union, chances are that your flight will be protected. Although there are some exceptions. If you want to find out in a couple of seconds, you can always utilise our claim calculator and get our advice for free:
These are the conditions that your flight must meet in order to be under the scope of Regulation EC 261/2004:
- You were flying from any airport located in a country that is a member State of the European Union or;
- You were flying with a European airline and you were arriving at an airport located inside a member State of the European Union.
If you think that an exception may affect your right to claim for compensation, we would be more than happy to have a look at your route.
How much compensation do my rights as an air passenger grant me?
The distance covered by your flight's route will determine the amount that you’ll receive as compensation for your disrupted flight, disregarding if it has been delayed or cancelled:
- For all flights of 1,500 kilometres or less, EUR 250
- For all intra-Community flights of more than 1,500 kilometres and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres, EUR 400
- For all other flights (routes covering a distance greater than 3,500 kilometres) you'll be entitled to receive EUR 600*
*If you’ve arrived at your final destination with a total delay greater than 3 hours but less than 4 hours, the airline will be able to apply a 50% reduction to the total amount established in the regulation.
Every year, about 500 million people suffer from flight delays and cancellations and 30 million of them have the right to get compensation. Money that up until now remained with the airlines, amounting to almost three billion euros every single year!
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