The EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation

Since 2004, European passengers have enjoyed special protection under EU Regulation 261/2004. This comprehensively confirmed that denied boarding, cancellation or a long delay of flights are a nuisance for air travellers and that airlines must therefore compensate passengers for the inconvenience with up to 600 euros.

In the event of cancellation, delay, overbooking and missed connecting flights, passengers are entitled to compensation or a ticket refund under the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation.

Are you also affected by a flight delay or flight cancellation?

In Europe, they are a couple of companies that can help you to get your rights in a simple and uncomplicated way.

Who does the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation apply to?

  • Air travellers with  a valid ticket and booking confirmation
  • Air travellers whose flight either departs from the EU  or is operated by an EU-based airline and lands in the EU.

It is irrelevant whether the travellers:

  • have booked a package holiday,
  • have booked with a low-cost airline,
  • are on a business trip
  • are minors (with their ticket),
  • or fly on free or discounted tickets from loyalty or promotional program.

The EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation does not apply to:

  • Air travellers travel free of charge or at a reduced fare that is not directly or indirectly available to the public.
  • Air travellers who did not show up for check-in on time. Normally, passengers should be at check-in no later than 45 minutes before departure (exception: cancellation)

Why is there the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation?

The EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation was passed to protect air travellers from the inconvenience caused by long waits or flight cancellations that the airline could have avoided. The full name of the regulation is: “Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 of the European Parliament and the Council on common rules on compensation and assistance for passengers in the event of denied boarding and in the event of flight cancellation or long delay”. Among other things, it created a system of compensation services as a basic protection for passengers, which should also encourage airlines to avoid delays and cancellations.

What exactly is anchored in the Air Passenger Rights Regulation?

  • Your rights in the event of denied boarding against your will, cancellation and delay of your flight
  • When you are entitled to compensation payments of €250 to €600
  • Which supply lines the airline has to provide
  • When you can cancel and rebook your flight in the event of cancellations or long delays
  • How to be informed about cancellations and your rights

When do I receive compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004?

Based on the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation, your flight must meet several requirements for you to be entitled to compensation. The flight must either start in the EU or the airline must be based in the EU and the flight must land in the EU. The flight concerned must also not be older than 3 years. It is not relevant to the validity of the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation whether the flight was part of a package tour or a business trip.

If the above conditions are met, you are entitled to compensation in the following cases:

  • Delays:  Your flight arrives at the destination airport 3 or more hours late.
  • Cancellations  The airline informed you about the cancellation less than 14 days before departure.
  • Overbooking  The airline has overbooked your flight, and you cannot find any more space on board your flight.
  • Missed connecting flight  You arrive at the final destination of your journey 3 or more hours late because you missed your connecting flight due to a shorter delay. This also applies if the flights were operated by different airlines and also if the connecting flight is outside the EU, as long as all flights are under one booking.

According to the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation, the amount of compensation depends on the flight route and not on the ticket price that was paid:

  • Short distances  (up to 1500 kilometres): You are entitled to compensation of 250 euros 
  • Medium-haul  (up to 3500 kilometres): You are entitled to compensation of 400 euros
  • Long-distance  (over 3500 kilometres): You are entitled to compensation of 600 euros

Flight delay, cancellation, overbooking or missed connecting flight? You are entitled to it

Short distances up to 1,500 km Medium distance up to 3,500 km Long distances from 3,500 km
e.g. Berlin – Munich e.g. Berlin – Lisbon e.g. Berlin – Abu Dhabi
€250 * €400 * €600 *

Airlines are obliged to inform passengers about their rights

Airlines must inform passengers in detail about their passenger rights. This includes, for example, information for passengers at check-in, the handing out of written notices in the event of delays and sufficient information on the airline’s website.

The Berlin Regional Court ruled (judgment of October 8, 2015, Az.: 52 O 102/15) that the airline Germania may no longer incorrectly inform its customers about their rights in the event of long delays and overbooking. An information sheet published on the Germania website about compensation and support services in the event of overbooking, cancellations and long delays had misrepresented the legal claims of the customers and in some cases incorrectly. For example, the reference to compensation payments of 250 to 600 euros was completely missing. The options for reimbursement of flight prices and a free return flight to the airport of departure in the event of a flight cancellation were also not mentioned.


Even if the airline has already given you vouchers as compensation, usually of a lower value than the compensation under EU law, you are still entitled to compensation.

How do I get my compensation?

Use our legal expertise. It is often difficult for laypersons to claim compensation on their own. Many airlines block, ignore, put off and misrepresent the facts in order not to have to pay compensation. As a traveller, you are quickly alone there. We help air travellers to get their rights and fight for their compensation. Since we know which tricks and excuses the airlines use and which arguments and evidence are necessary to successfully enforce compensation, we have already been able to win over 350,000,000 euros for our customers to date.

Use our compensation calculator for a free check of your flight. If you’re entitled to compensation, you can ask us to enforce your claims with just one click.

What are “extraordinary circumstances”?

If the airline is not responsible for the flight delay, it does not have to pay compensation under the Air Passenger Rights Regulation. This applies to so-called “extraordinary circumstances”. These include

  • Airport or airspace closures
  • Political instability
  • Unavoidable security risks
  • Air traffic control strikes
  • Birds in the engine
  • storm

One exception: The airline could have avoided the problem. For example, if the airline did not stock up on enough de-icing preparation when winter started, it may be responsible for the flight delay – especially if the machines of other airlines were able to take off as scheduled.

How can I secure my future flight?

You have planned a flight in the future and want to be sure in advance not to miss any compensation payments? No problem. You can enter your flights in our compensation calculator in advance, and we will let you know if you are entitled to compensation.

Checklist: your passenger rights

  • You can be entitled to compensation of between €250 and €600 under the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation if your flight is delayed 3 hours or more, have been cancelled or overbooked, or you missed your connecting flight
  • After 2 hours of waiting at the airport, you are already entitled to drinks and snacks from the airline.


  • You checked in on time. (Usually up to 45 minutes before departure)
  • Your problem flight was not longer than  3 years  ago
  • The airline is responsible for the flight disruption. (Example: technical problem or sick crew)
  • Your flight either  started in the EU  (any airline) or  landed in the EU  (airlines based in the EU)
  • You have a  valid ticket and booking confirmation.
  • The type of booking, i.e. whether it is an individual booking, a business trip or a package holiday, is irrelevant to your right to compensation.

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