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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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.
Whether you are entitled to compensation under the Air Passenger Rights Regulation after a flight delay depends on several factors. These include:
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).
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.
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.
Some examples of flight delays and the respective compensation claims can be found in this table:
|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|
The travel service Flightright allows you to check your compensation claims in case of flight delays immediately.
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.
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:
You can claim the following benefits in the letter:
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.
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.