Flight delay compensation: All about your rights

Were you affected by a flight delay on your last trip? You can claim compensation depending on the flight route, wait time, and reason for the delay. Find out how much money you are entitled to in the event of a flight delay and how to get compensation the easiest way.


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How much delay do I have to tolerate when flying?

According to the EU Passenger Rights Regulation, you must tolerate a flight delay of up to three hours. The length of your flight is irrelevant here. Things only get interesting in the case of longer delays.

Flight delay: Am I entitled to compensation?

Whether you are entitled to compensation under the Air Passenger Rights Regulation after a flight delay depends on several factors. These include:

  • Your flight must have departed from within the EU (or at least landed in the EU if the airline is based within the EU).
  • The reason for the delay must have been within the airline's control (which means you probably won't get any money back in the case of severe weather, disasters, and other forms of force majeure).
  • Your flight must have arrived at its destination more than three hours late.

If all three points apply, you are entitled to compensation between € 250 and € 600. In addition, you can claim care services (meals, accommodation, and telephone calls).

How much money will I get in the event of a flight delay?

You can easily determine the amount of compensation you should receive based on your flight distance. For delays of at least 3 hours on short-haul flights up to 1,500 km, you will receive € 250 as a rule. For medium-haul flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km, it is € 400; on long-haul flights, you will receive € 600 in compensation.

Compensation for flight delays

However, the remaining requirements for compensation (airport of departure or landing and the airline's ability to influence the reason for the delay) must also be met for you to be entitled to the money.


If your flight is delayed between 2 and 3 hours, you are entitled to free meals and drinks for the waiting time.

In the case of an overnight stay forced by the delay, free accommodation in a hotel, including transfer, is part of the compensation in addition to care services such as food, drinks, and free phone calls. However, should you decide to rebook, you are instead entitled to compensation for rebooking your flight.

Flight delay compensation table

Some examples of flight delays and the respective compensation claims can be found in this table:

Flight Delay Compensation
Berlin → Munich (<1,500 km) 3.5 hours due to a technical error € 250
Berlin → Ibiza (1,500 - 3,500 km) <5 hours due to a technical error € 400
Berlin → New York City (> 3,500 km) 4 hours due to a technical error € 600
Berlin → New York City 2 hours due to a technical error Only support services such as food, drinks, and free phone calls (under 3 hours delay)
Berlin → Ibiza 4 hours due to a thunderstorm none (force majeure)
Berlin → Munich 18 hours due to a technical error € 250 or rebooking refund, assistance services such as overnight stay (not in case of rebooking), food, drinks, and free phone calls

Our recommendation: Have your flight delay compensation checked

The travel service Flightright allows you to check your compensation claims in case of flight delays immediately.

  • Just enter your flight details at flightright.com and you will receive your result within seconds. The platform also provides live data of hundreds of thousands of flights, including disruption reports and the associated meteorological data.
  • As an additional service, Flightright FirstClass offers exclusive lounge access, a flight booking service, and a 24-hour customer hotline with immediate assistance for members.

Flight delayed: How do I get my compensation?

In theory, the airline must take the initiative to provide compensation, free meals and refreshments, and (if necessary) hotel accommodations for passengers affected by a flight delay.

In practice, this obligation is rarely fulfilled without any action on the part of the passenger, and as a traveler, you must make efforts to enforce your rights. If you are stranded at the airport with a long waiting time, first request your airline to fulfill its obligation.

If you receive a refusal from the staff or no response, you can arrange for meals and (if necessary) a hotel room and charge this to the airline. Be sure to keep all receipts for this purpose.

How to claim flight compensation

Once you have used a flight compensation calculator to determine the amount of your compensation, you can write a letter to your airline claiming your right to compensation.

The letter should mention EC Regulation 261/2004 (Air Passenger Rights Regulation) in the subject line and include the following:

  • Flight number
  • Passenger
  • Date of departure
  • Place of departure
  • Destination
  • Scheduled departure time
  • Scheduled arrival time
  • Actual arrival time
  • Flight distance in km
  • The extent of delay in hours
  • Claim for compensation and reimbursement
  • Bank details for the money transfer

You can claim the following benefits in the letter:

  1. Compensation from € 250 to € 600 (according to Art. 6, 7 EC Regulation No. 261/2004)
  2. In case of a delay of 5 hours or more: reimbursement of the ticket price (according to Art. 6, 8 EC Regulation No. 261/2004)
  3. Reimbursement of replacement flights if the initially booked flight has become unreasonable for you due to the delay
  4. Other costs such as meals, drinks, hotel expenses, transportation costs, and telephone calls (according to Art. 6, 9 EC Regulation)

Are there statutes of limitations for flight delay compensation?

Since there is no official regulation on the statute of limitations for compensation claims for flight delays, court decisions have set limitation periods of three years to five years, depending on the country.

The airline does not pay compensation: What to do?

You can contact your country's consumer center for assistance if your airline refuses to pay the compensation and refunds. ECC Net (European Consumer Centres Network) is co-funded by the European Commission and can help you settle any consumer dispute within the EU.

Find the local ECC contact for your country here.

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