When you take a flight within the EU and it is cancelled, you are often entitled to get your money back from the airline. But if you are undecided between requesting a flight refund in accordance with EC 261 or claiming compensation, we have good news for you. In some cases, you may be entitled to both. Here's the difference: if you can no longer take the flight, EU law entitles you to a full refund of your flight. However, depending on the reason for the cancellation, you may also be entitled to compensation for the inconvenience caused.
Your flight has been delayed by more than 5 hours and you no longer wish to take that flight.
If your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure and the alternative flight offered does not correspond to your initial travel plans.
If you have been denied boarding but do not wish to take the alternative flight offered.
In accordance with EC 261, you are entitled to reimbursement if your flight has been cancelled. You will be offered an alternative flight and can ask for another option if you prefer. But if none of the available flights match your travel plans, you can ask for a full refund.
The same applies to refunds for delayed flights - if your flight has been delayed by more than 5 hours, you have the right to decide not to take the flight again and ask for a refund. This is because a delay of five hours is just as inconvenient as a total cancellation.
Your flight was delayed for more than 3 hours
Your flight was cancelled with less than 14 days' notice
You were denied boarding due to overbooking.
EC Regulation 261/2004 covers flights that take off from the European Union or are operated by an airline based in the European Union, regardless of the destination of the flight. It also covers flights landing in the European Union on a flight operated by an airline based in the European Union.
When your flight is cancelled less than 14 days before departure, you have several options to choose from. In accordance with EC 261, all cancelled flights are entitled to one of the following benefits:
Full or partial refund of the ticket, with a return flight to the original point of departure if necessary.
Re-routing to the final destination as soon as possible.
A new ticket to your final destination at a later date of your choice.
If you opt for a flight refund, the airline has 7 days to send it to you. Payment can be made in cash, by electronic bank transfer, postal order or bank cheque.
Airlines can also offer compensation via travel vouchers or other services, but only with the signed consent of the passenger. If you want to receive a cash refund, always check the documents you sign before accepting such vouchers!
If you have not yet travelled, you will receive a full refund of the ticket cost. If, on the other hand, you have already travelled, things get a bit more complicated. In general, you can get a partial refund for the unused part of the ticket.
There are cases where you have already departed, but due to the flight cancellation, the alternative offered no longer serves your original travel plan. This can happen if you have a connecting flight, you take the first leg of the flight, but when you land you discover that the second flight has been cancelled and the airline is unable to offer you an alternative that will get you to your destination in a reasonable time. In this case, you have the right to ask for a full refund of your flight ticket. You will receive a refund for both the used part of the ticket and the unused part. The airline is also obliged to offer you a return flight to the first point of departure as soon as possible, if necessary.
Passengers who have suffered a flight cancellation can not only request a refund of the ticket, but also a monetary compensation, provided that the flight is eligible for compensation. To be able to use it, the airline must have informed you of the flight cancellation with less than 14 days notice. Other factors to consider are the availability of a suitable alternative flight.
The amount of compensation for cancelled flights depends on the distance of the flight and the duration of the delay of the alternative flight compared to the original flight. Here is a table showing the exact amount for each flight category:
Flights with a distance of less than 1,500 km: €125 if the delay is less than 2 hours, €250 if the delay is between 2 and 3 hours, €250 if the delay is between 3 and 4 hours, €250 if the delay is more than 4 hours and did not arrive at all.
EU domestic flights over 1,500 km: €200 if the delay is less than 2 hours, €200 if the delay is between 2 and 3 hours, €400 if the delay is between 3 and 4 hours, €400 if the delay is more than 4 hours.
EU external flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km: €200 if the delay is less than 2 hours, €200 if the delay is between 2 and 3 hours, €400 if the delay is between 3 and 4 hours, €400 if the delay is more than 4 hours.
EU external flights over 3,500 km: €300 if the delay is less than 2 hours, €300 if the delay is between 2 and 3 hours, €600 if the delay is between 3 and 4 hours, €600 if the delay is more than 4 hours.
Not all flights are eligible for compensation, and there are some situations in which you are not entitled to a refund or compensation. According to EC 261, if the cancellation or delay of the flight has been communicated at least 14 days in advance, the flight is not eligible for compensation. Furthermore, in the case of 'exceptional circumstances' that are beyond the airline's control, such as the following, the airline is not obliged to pay compensation:
🚫 airport employee strike
🚫 air traffic control strike
🚫 adverse weather conditions or security risks
🚫 covid 19
However, even in these cases passengers are entitled to assistance and reimbursement of the flight.
To obtain a refund for a delayed flight, passengers are entitled to compensation for the inconvenience caused by waiting. According to EC 261, if a flight arrives at least five hours late, passengers have the right to choose between continuing their journey or cancelling it and requesting a full or partial refund of their ticket. Moreover, if the delay jeopardises the purpose for which the flight was booked, passengers can ask for a full refund, even for the parts of the ticket already used. The refund must be paid within 7 days by methods such as electronic bank transfer, money order or bank cheque. Alternatively, airlines may offer compensation in the form of travel vouchers or other services, but only with the signed consent of the passenger.
To obtain compensation for a delayed flight, the passenger's flight must have been delayed by at least 3 hours. In the case of longer delays, you also have the right to opt for a full or partial refund of your ticket. Keep in mind that, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, delayed flights are also eligible for compensation.
The amount of compensation for delayed flights varies according to the duration of the delay. For flights with a delay of less than 3 hours, there is no compensation. For delays between 3 and 4 hours, the compensation is €250 for flights within 1,500 km, €400 for internal EU flights over 1,500 km, €400 for external EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km, and €600 for external EU flights over 3,500 km. In the case of flights that did not arrive at all, the compensation is €250 for flights within 1,500 km, €400 for internal EU flights over 1,500 km, €400 for external EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km and €600 for external EU flights over 3,500 km.
You are not entitled to compensation for delay if the reason is due to extraordinary circumstances, i.e. events beyond the airline's control, such as:
🚫Strikes by airport or air traffic control employees
🚫Adverse weather conditions
However, regardless of the reasons for the delay, passengers are still entitled to assistance, such as meals, drinks and, if necessary, accommodation and transport.
Passengers are entitled to reimbursement or compensation in the event of a cancelled or delayed flight, provided that the flight is eligible and the airline has informed passengers at least 14 days in advance. The amount of compensation depends on the duration of the delay or cancellation and the distance of the flight. However, there are exceptions, such as extraordinary circumstances, where the airline is not obliged to pay compensation. In any case, passengers are still entitled to assistance. It is important to read the documents and clauses carefully before signing any agreement with the airline.
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