The Secret Formula: How Flight Delay Compensation is Calculated

Sitting on a plane for hours waiting for a delay to be over can be one of the most frustrating experiences in travel. Or, if your flight gets canceled altogether, you could be in for an even worse experience.

Flight Delayed or Canceled, in any case, the EU 261 rule grants certain rights to compensation for air passengers. But, how exactly is the amount of compensation calculated?

No matter the circumstances, flight delays can cause stress and frustration to travelers, but with ClaimFlights service, you may get some sort of relief with compensation.

There’s a complex formula behind every claimable delay or canceled flight and that’s why airlines are likely to reject any claims made without professional advice and help.

In this article, we will dive into the secrets behind how flight delay compensation is calculated so that you can understand your rights and make sure to receive every bit of what is due to you when claiming compensation.

Overview of the EU 261 Rule and Flight Delay Compensation

If you’ve ever been victim to a flight delay or cancelation, you understand the frustration of disrupting plans and precious vacation time. Thankfully, EU 261, also known as the “EC 261”, protects air passengers from such occurrences.

EU 261 rule applies to all flights that depart from an airport within the European Union or arrive at an airport within the European Union, regardless of where the ticket was purchased.

When EU 261 applies, a passenger is potentially eligible for flight delay compensation for any delays over three hours for arrivals. The amount of compensation depends on your flight distance and actual delay length and varies between €250 to €600 per passenger.

For example, if your flight was delayed by more than three hours and it was a medium-haul flight (between 1,500 km and 3,500 km) you would be entitled to up to €400 in compensation.

Factors That Affect Flight Delay Compensation

If your flight ever experiences a delay or cancelation, you may be entitled to compensation. But how do air carriers decide how much you should get for the hassle? It all comes down to a complicated formula that takes into account several factors.

When calculating how much compensation you are entitled to, airlines consider:

  • The length of your delay: Longer delays result in higher payouts.
  • The distance of your flight: Flights over 3,500km and 3+ hours delay will receive the highest amount of compensation. Shorter flights receive less.
  • The cause of your delay: If the airline can prove that the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances (e.g., extreme weather, labor strike) it is not required to provide any compensation at all.

Recognizing these factors allows you to make an informed decision and helps you understand when you may be eligible for flight compensation when delays or cancellations occur.

Calculating Flight Delay Compensation Amounts

When it comes to the amount of flight delay compensation you can get, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Generally, compensation is calculated based on the distance traveled and the duration of the delay.

Distance Traveled

For flights within the EU, from the EU, and in the EU with an EU-regulated airline, you are covered by EU Regulation 261/2004.

The amount you get is based on the distance traveled:

  1. Under 1,500 km: €250
  2. 1,500-3,500 km: €400
  3. Over 3,500 km: €600

Duration of Delay

The duration of the delay can also affect the amount of compensation you receive.

  1. 3+ hours delay and under 1,500 km: €250
  2. 3+ hours delay and between 1,500-3,500 km: €400
  3. 4+ hours delay and over 3,500 km: €600

No compensation for delays of less than 3 hours. However, you may have the right to care and assistance, accommodation for an overnight delay, or when a stay becomes necessary.

These amounts are established by law and generally speaking, should apply for any EU airline flying into or within Europe – so next time when you’re delayed don’t forget that there’s some potential money coming your way!

Eligibility for Flight Delay Compensation

Figuring out if you’re eligible for flight delay compensation is a pretty simple process. As long as your flight delay was over 3 hours, and it wasn’t due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ — like bad weather or a strike — then you can get compensation.

But what are the specifics? To be eligible for flight delay compensation, you must have taken a flight departing from the EU or arriving in the EU on airline that is based in the EU. If you meet these criteria, then you can look forward to receiving up to €600 in compensation.

The amount of money you can claim for your flight depends on a few factors:

  1. Flight distance: The further the flight distance, the more compensation travelers are entitled to receive — up to €600 for long-haul flights over 3,500km.
  2. Length of delay: The longer your delay, the higher the amount of money awarded—for instance, travelers delayed by three hours or more could receive between €250 and up to €600 depending on the distance of their flight.
  3. Type of ticket: It matters if you purchased a round-trip ticket or one-way depending on what type of compensation you’re looking for.

These are just a few things you need to keep in mind when talking about eligibility for flight delay compensation. ClaimFlights can help take care of all this hassle so that all you have to do is sit back and wait for your money!

How to Claim Flight Delay Compensation

Did you know that you may be able to claim compensation for a delayed or canceled flight? Well, now you know! It’s true, under the EU 261 rule, passengers may be eligible to receive up to €600 in compensation if their flight is delayed by more than three hours. But the trick is knowing how to make a successful compensation claim.

With ClaimFlights, it’s easy!

Here’s how our flight delay compensation calculator works:

Flight length:

First, we determine your flight length based on the distance of your journey – this includes any layovers or connections. We use reliable third-party sources like IATA Airline Database to calculate your exact flight distance.

Flight delay ratio:

Then, we determine the ratio of total number of hours delayed versus the entire duration of the entire flight. That way, we can determine the percentage (delay quota) of your delayed flight which can then be used to calculate how much money you are eligible for in compensation.

Rescheduled arrival date:

Finally, based on when your flight was originally scheduled to arrive and when it actually arrived, we can tell if an airline has breached EU Regulation EC 261/2004 and therefore whether or not you can qualify for compensation from that airline.

With an easy-to-use tool like ClaimFlights’ Flight Delay Compensation Calculator, all it takes is a few simple steps and then voila–you could get compensated quickly and easily!

What to Do if Your Claim is Denied by the Airline?

If the airline denies your claim, don’t throw in the towel just yet. With ClaimFlights, you can appeal the airline’s decision and get a different outcome.

Here’s how:

  1. Gather all the necessary evidence and paperwork, such as flight tickets, boarding passes, proof of correspondence, etc.
  2. Engage with a reliable flight delay compensation service provider (such as ClaimFlights) that can help you dispute their decision and get you compensated for flight delays or cancelations.
  3. Submit an appeal to the airline or court of law with all of the necessary paperwork that supports your claim in order to demonstrate that they owe you the compensation they denied you initially.
  4. Make sure to include any documentation from any third-party services you may have used to further strengthen your case and show that you are entitled to something for the inconvenience caused by the delayed or canceled flights.
  5. Keep an eye on your mailbox or inbox – usually, someone from the airline will be reaching out with a decision on whether or not you are eligible for compensation.
  6. Once all is said and done and if your appeal is successful, congratulations – you will receive Flight Delay Compensation determined by EU 261 rules!

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 27th May 2021.


Flight delay compensation is complex and unique to each passenger, influenced by the length of delay, and distance of flight – among others. Thankfully, understanding the formula is not essential for air passengers to receive the compensation they are due.

ClaimFlights provides an intuitive flight delay compensation calculator, to help passengers figure out how much compensation they can claim for their delayed flight. All you need to do is enter your flight details, and the calculator will do the hard work for you in seconds.

With ClaimFlights, claiming compensation for your flight delays and cancelations is fast and easy. Get started today and reclaim your right to a hassle-free flight.

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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!

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