Extraordinary Circumstances and Their Impact on EU Claims

What Are Extraordinary Circumstances in Flight Delays?

Have you ever been on a flight that was delayed or canceled due to extraordinary circumstances? If so, you may think that this makes your claim for flight compensation null and void. But the truth is, you may still be eligible for compensation from the airline!

The EU 261 rule requires airlines to compensate passengers for longer flight delays, but there are some instances that are considered “extraordinary” and you don’t qualify for financial compensation.

So what constitutes an extraordinary circumstance? Are there any instances in which passengers can make a claim even if they’ve experienced a delay due to extraordinary circumstances? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more as we explore what counts as extraordinary circumstances in flight delays.

What Are Extraordinary Circumstances?

“Extraordinary circumstances” in the context of flight delays refer to exceptional and unforeseeable events or situations that can disrupt airline schedules and are typically beyond the control of the airline.

These circumstances can absolve the airline from certain responsibilities and financial compensation to passengers.

It’s important to note that the specific definition of extraordinary circumstances can vary by airline and by country, and they are often outlined in the airline’s terms and conditions of carriage.

When such circumstances arise, airlines are generally exempt from providing compensation or covering additional expenses for passengers, as these events are considered beyond their control.

However, passengers are still entitled to basic care, such as meals and refreshments, during lengthy delays, even in extraordinary circumstances.

Examples of Extraordinary Circumstances

So what qualifies as an extraordinary circumstance? According to the EU law EC 261, extraordinary circumstances are considered events outside of the airline’s control. That means that if the delay was due to something within the airline’s control, then you have a valid compensation claim.

But what exactly are these extraordinary circumstances?

Here are some examples:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other global pandemics: Extraordinary events such as widespread infectious disease outbreaks that disrupt air travel due to health and safety concerns, government restrictions, and reduced passenger demand.

Air traffic control restrictions: Limitations imposed by air traffic control authorities, which can include congestion, airspace closures, or changes in routing due to high traffic volumes or security concerns, resulting in flight delays.

Adverse weather conditions (“bad weather”): Unfavorable meteorological conditions, such as heavy rain, thunderstorms, fog, or snow, which can impact flight safety and operations by causing delays, diversions, or cancellations.

Union, airport staff, and air traffic control strikes: Work stoppages organized by labor unions, airport personnel, or air traffic controllers, often in pursuit of better working conditions or higher wages, leading to disruptions in air travel services.

Bird Strikes: Collisions between aircraft and birds during takeoff or landing, which can pose safety risks, damage aircraft, and require inspections or repairs, causing flight delays.

Security risks: Threats to aviation security, such as terrorism, hijackings, or suspicious packages, can lead to heightened security measures, flight diversions, or delays as authorities assess and address potential threats.

Political or civil unrest: Situations characterized by public protests, riots, political conflicts, or civil disturbances that can disrupt airport operations, restrict access, or create safety concerns, leading to flight delays or cancellations.

Natural disasters: Catastrophic events like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, or volcanic eruptions that can impact airports, infrastructure, and safety, causing flight disruptions and potentially airport closures.

Medical emergencies: In-flight incidents involving passengers or crew members requiring immediate medical attention, which may necessitate unscheduled landings, resulting in delays for affected flights.

It’s important to note that just because airlines say something is outside their control doesn’t mean it actually is, so don’t take their word for it! Contact ClaimFlights today and our experts will assess your claim for you for free and let you know if you’re entitled to compensation.

What Isn’t Covered Under Extraordinary Circumstances?

When it comes to extraordinary circumstances, the general rule is that anything considered ‘not under control’ of the airline may be eligible to be claimed against. Obviously, weather-related delays (outside of pilot error) and air traffic control delays can be added to this list, but what isn’t covered?

The EU states very clearly that any extraordinary circumstances must be unpredictable and outside of the airline’s control. That means they won’t cover situations like:

  • Mechanical failure caused by insufficient maintenance or lack of routine checks
  • Strikes by airline staff
  • Late arrivals or departures of connecting flights due to an airline error
  • Flight cancellation due to an airline not properly managing their flight schedule
  • Overbooking flights despite having an accurate count of those who booked.

In short, any circumstance caused by something that was in the power of the airline (or a third-party contractor working on their behalf) cannot be claimed for extraordinary circumstances. If there’s a chance that an issue could have been prevented by better planning and organization from your chosen carrier, it likely won’t qualify.

What to Do if Your Flight Delay Qualifies for Compensation

If your flight is delayed and qualifies for compensation, it’s important to know your rights and take the appropriate steps to claim what you’re entitled to. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do:

  • Understand Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with the airline’s policy and your rights as a passenger. Regulations regarding flight delays and compensation vary depending on your location and the airline, but generally, you may be eligible for compensation if your flight is delayed for reasons within the airline’s control, such as technical issues or crew problems.
  • Keep Important Documents: Maintain all relevant documents, including your boarding pass, e-ticket, and any communication from the airline regarding the delay. These documents will be essential when filing a claim.
  • Note the Delay Details: Record the specifics of your delay, including the flight number, departure and arrival times, and the reason provided by the airline for the delay. Having this information will be crucial when submitting a claim.
  • Speak to Airline Staff: Approach the airline’s customer service desk or representative at the airport to inquire about the delay and potential compensation. They may provide you with information on your rights and the process for making a claim.
  • Request Compensation: If your delay qualifies for compensation, request it from the airline’s staff or customer service. Be polite but assertive, and provide all necessary information they request.
  • Submit a Claim: If the airline does not provide compensation at the airport or if you were not able to speak with a representative, you will need to submit a formal claim. Most airlines have an online claims process. Visit the airline’s website and look for the “Customer Service” or “Claims” section to find instructions on how to submit a claim.
  • Follow-up: After submitting your claim, follow up with the airline regularly to check the status of your request. Airlines may take some time to process claims, so patience is key.

Remember that the compensation process may take some time, and it’s essential to be persistent and well-informed throughout the process. However, there may be other compensation options available depending on your particular situation—be sure to keep in touch with ClaimFlights regarding any further details!

How Much Compensation for a Delayed Flight?

Flight delay compensation amounts vary between 250 Euros to 600 Euros. It depends on the route distance and the length of the delay.

Here’s the table below to understand “how much compensation you may get for a delayed flight

Recievable Amount Route Distance Length of Delay
250€ less than 1500 km 3+ hours
400€ between 1500 to 3500 km 3+ hours
600€ more than 3500 km 4+ hours *

* When EU borders are not crossed, the amount may get reduced by 50%, i.e., you can get up to 300€ for a distance of over 3500 km.

Jetting off soon? Here’s the scoop: EU law may grant you compensation for flight interruptions. Get clued in on your rights today!

How ClaimFlights Can Help With Your Flight Delay Compensation Claim

ClaimFlights is a flight delay compensation claim company that assists passengers in claiming compensation following EU Regulation EC 261 when flights are delayed, canceled, or overbooked. ClaimFlights operates on a ‘no win, no fee policy, which means you only pay if they get results.

  • Experienced team: ClaimFlights staff are experienced aviation law experts and have the knowledge to help you make a successful claim for delayed or canceled flights.
  • Online form: Submit an online form with all the details about your case, such as the flight number and flight date, and in just minutes their software automatically determines if you can make a claim or not.
  • Efficient Support: Besides outstanding customer service, ClaimFlights’ representatives provide efficient support to ensure that you get your money as soon as possible from the airline company involved.
  • No Hidden Fees: No need to worry about hidden fees; ClaimFlights’ services are free unless your case is successful, in successful cases they charge a commission of 25%.
  • Compensation Calculator: Determine how much money can be claimed using the calculator on their website without having to pay anything upfront—you only pay when they successfully argue your case and get your money back!

With ClaimFlights on your side, pursuing flight delay compensation is easy. So don’t let airlines get away with wrongfully delaying or canceling flights—get the compensation you deserve with ClaimFlights’ help!

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.


To sum up, extraordinary circumstances, as defined by EU flight delay regulations, are distressing events that are not under the control of your airline and occur during a flight.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get your compensation if you’ve been affected by extraordinary circumstances. If you’ve been stranded due to a flight delay, it is worth checking to see if you are eligible for compensation.

Ultimately, it can be difficult to find out if you can claim for extraordinary circumstances or not. That’s why ClaimFlights, the experts in claiming compensation for delayed or canceled flights, are there to help. They can assess your situation and help you determine if you are eligible for compensation following the EU law.

Flight disrupted? EU law might owe you compensation. Explore No Win No Fee claim companies with the best payouts – it’s your right!

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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

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Related Questions

What is flight delay compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004?

Flight delay compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004 is the compensation that air passengers are entitled to receive when their flight is delayed for a certain amount of time, depending on the distance of the flight and the duration of the delay.

What are the conditions for receiving flight delay compensation?

The conditions for receiving flight delay compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004 are that the flight must be departing from an EU airport or arriving at an EU airport on an EU airline, the delay must be over 3 hours, and the delay must not be due to extraordinary circumstances.

What are considered extraordinary circumstances under EU law?

Extraordinary circumstances under EC Regulation 261/2004 include situations such as severe weather conditions, security risks, political instability, and strikes that affect the operation of the airline.

Can airlines refuse to pay compensation under EC Regulation 261?

Airlines can refuse to pay flight delay compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004 if the delay is due to extraordinary circumstances. However, they are required to provide care and assistance to passengers in such situations.

How can air passengers claim compensation for delayed flights?

Air passengers can claim compensation for a delayed flight under EC Regulation 261/2004 by submitting a claim to the airline either directly or through a third-party service provider such as ClaimFlights. The claim should include details of the flight, the reason for the delay, and any expenses incurred by the passenger as a result of the delay.

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