EU Regulation 261: Scope, Overview, and Passenger Rights

EU Regulation 261/2004: Scope, Overview, and Passenger Rights

Have you ever had to deal with a mismanaged flight? Never fun—especially when you have to spend time trying to figure out how best to recoup your losses.

If you’ve experienced a flight delay, cancelation, or overbooking in the EU, then you might be eligible for compensation according to EU Regulation 261/2004.

How does EU law apply to my situation? What are my rights? How do I make a claim? We’ve got all the answers for you here, all in one organized place.

In this article, we’ll cover the scope, overview, and passenger rights of EU Regulation 261/2004 so that you can submit a compensation claim that’s truly valid and will get approved by airlines.

Introduction to EU Regulation 261/2004

Have you ever experienced a delayed, canceled, or overbooked flight within the European Union? If so, you’re entitled to certain rights and compensation, thanks to EU Regulation 261/2004. This regulation serves as a set of guidelines aimed at protecting passengers’ rights in the case of disrupted flights and covers travelers departing from or arriving in the EU by air.

No matter which airline you’re traveling with, whether it’s a budget or full-service carrier, Regulation 261/2004 allows for compensation for delayed or canceled flights, as long as certain criteria are met.

The first and foremost criterion is that the flight must have either departed from an EU airport or arrived at an EU airport and operated by an EU-regulated airline. So don’t forget to keep all your flight information as it may come in handy if something unexpected happens while you’re traveling!

When Can Passengers Claim Compensation?

When it comes to claiming your rights as a passenger, you want to be sure you’re able to do so in a timely fashion. Luckily, the EU Regulation 261/2004 provides explicit guidelines for when and how you can claim compensation for delays, cancelations, or overbooking.

To better understand when you can exercise your rights under this regulation, let’s break down the timeline for compensation claims:

  • Under 2 hours: you may not be eligible for compensation
  • 2 – 3 hours: if your delay is between 2 and 3 hours, you are entitled to reimbursement of meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation if necessary, transport between airport and hotel as well as two telephone calls
  • Over 3 hours: if your flight delay is over 3 hours from its scheduled arrival time, you are eligible for flight delay compensation.

By understanding when you are allowed to claim compensation in accordance with EU Regulation 261/2004, you can pursue your rights efficiently, and give yourself some peace of mind while planning trips in the future.

What Are Your Rights Within EU Regulation 261/2004?

Under EU Regulation 261/2004, your rights as an air passenger depend on the situation. Below are your rights for the most common flight mishaps:

Delayed Flight

If your flight is delayed by more than three hours, you may be entitled to a minimum of 250 to 600 euros in cash compensation. Depending on the distance of the route and the length of the delay, you may be eligible for delayed flight compensation.

Cancelations and Overbooked Flights

If your flight is canceled or overbooked, you are entitled to a full refund of the ticket price, regardless of whether or not you decide to take another flight with another airline. On top of that, you may also receive up to 600 euros in cash compensation if you reached your destination with a delay of three hours or more.

Denied Boarding due to Overbooking

If you are denied boarding due to overbooking, you may be entitled to up to 600 euros in cash compensation. This also applies if boarding was denied due to technical issues or striking crew members as long as they were within the airline’s control and not caused by extraordinary circumstances. You can receive additional forms of assistance like meals and accommodation if needed depending on how long it takes for an alternative flight to be arranged for you.

How Much Compensation Can Passengers Claim?

So, if you’ve had your flight delayed or canceled, you may be wondering how much compensation you can claim under EU Regulation 261/2004.

The amount of compensation that is due varies depending on the distance of the flight and the length of the delay. Generally speaking, you are entitled to compensation in amounts ranging from €250 to €600, per passenger.

In order to calculate how much compensation you are eligible for accurately, it is best to consult with a professional company such as ClaimFlights which is experienced in handling such claims.

Here’s an overview of the amounts available depending on payment type and distance of the flight:

  • For flights up to 1,500 km delayed by 3 hours or more: €250
  • For flights within the EU from 1,500km – 3,500km: €400
  • For flights further than 3,500km within the EU and all other flights between 1,500 – 3,500km delayed by 4 hours or more: €600

Remember that this regulation applies across all EU countries and includes trips from/to European airports and certain non-EU countries including Switzerland and Turkey. As such, it offers significant protection for traveling passengers flying out of Europe who can claim this compensation should their delay exceed 3 hours or their flight be canceled altogether or overbooked.

Was your flight delayed? You may be eligible for compensation

Has your flight been delayed for more than 3 hours or even canceled? Don't worry, you may be eligible for compensation up to 600€ under the EU Regulation 261/2004.

Check if You're Eligible

We offer "No Win - No Fee" Services, so claiming is Risk-Free!

Which is the best company to claim flight delay compensation?

ClaimFlights is the best flight delay claim company when it comes to the payout after their 25% service fee. Through ClaimFlights, you could get 75% of the receivable compensation.

The following table gives you a direct comparison of flight delay compensation claim companies.

Your payout* (as Flight Delay Compensation)

for less than 1500 km for 1501 to 3500 km for more than 3500 km
ClaimFlights 187.50 € 300 € 450 €
Flightright 125.75 € 201.20 € 301.80 €
AirHelp 125 € 200 € 300 €
ClaimCompass 125 € 200 € 300 €
SkyRefund 125 € 200 € 300 €

* Source: Price comparison of flight delay claim companies, as of 8th August 2023.

Who Is Responsible for Paying Passengers Compensation?

So, who’s responsible for paying for your inconvenience caused by canceled or delayed flights? How much will you be eligible to claim?

The answer to both these questions lies in EU Regulation 261/2004. According to it, the airline responsible for the flight has to pay you monetary compensation if they’ve violated any of the rules issued by this Regulation.

The amount of compensation that you can seek depends on three factors:

  • The distance of the flight.
  • The reason behind the delay or cancelation.
  • The extent of the delay or cancelation – was it major or minor?

Under EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are entitled to up to €600 in compensation for long-distance flights (over 3500 km). For short-distance flights (below 1500 km), passengers can claim up to €250 in compensation. For delayed and canceled intra-EU flights, if they’re over 3 hours late they may also be eligible for free meals, refreshments, and phone calls as part of their compensation policies.

How ClaimFlights Can Help?

If you suffered a delayed, canceled, or overbooked flight, it is important that you know your rights under the EU Regulation 261/2004 so that you can make a claim for compensation.

Fortunately, ClaimFlights can help make the process easier and less hassle for you. We are a leading flight delay claim company and our team of experts specialize in helping air passengers with their flight delay compensation claims. We understand your legal rights as a passenger and have the expertise to help you get the compensation that you deserve.

We offer an end-to-end service that includes:

  • Assisting with determining whether or not your claim is eligible for compensation under the regulation
  • Gathering evidence to prove your case
  • Negotiating with airlines on your behalf
  • Ensuring that you receive the maximum compensation
  • Helping speed up payment of any entitlement if possible

By using ClaimFlights to help with your claim, you will save yourself the time and hassle of filing a claim on your own. Plus, our experts will ensure that all legal obligations are met in order to maximize your chances of a successful settlement.


EU Regulation 261/2004 offers air passengers a range of protection and benefits, from compensation for flight delays to the ability to file a claim and seek compensation for canceled or overbooked flights. It is a crucial piece of legislation for ensuring the rights of air passengers, and it is worth taking the time to understand the range of rights and benefits.

If you think you may have a claim under EU Regulation 261/2004, or if you are looking for more information about how to make a claim, it’s important to get help from a reputable claim company. ClaimFlights is here to help you understand your rights and get the compensation you deserve. With us on your side, you can be sure that any delayed, canceled, or overbooked flight will not mean an empty pocket.

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Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn more about claiming compensation for flight delays or cancellations. Click any of the links below to discover expert advice, comprehensive guides, and useful tips on how to claim what you’re entitled to. Whether you’re a frequent traveler or just looking to expand your knowledge, our fascinating topics will leave you informed and engaged.

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Was your flight delayed? You may be eligible for compensation

Has your flight been delayed for more than 3 hours or even canceled? Don't worry, you may be eligible for compensation up to 600€ under the EU Regulation 261/2004.

Check if You're Eligible

We offer "No Win - No Fee" Services, so claiming is Risk-Free!

We help in many languages – ClaimFlights International Websites