EC 261 Compensation Rights for EU Flight Delays or Cancellations

Understanding your Rights to EU 261 Compensation

Was your European flight delayed, canceled, or overbooked? If so, you know how frustrating it could be on an international flight.

But did you know that if such inconveniences occur, you may have the right to compensation under EC 261 Regulation?

It doesn’t matter if your flight was late by a few hours or a day; the EC 261 Regulation ensures that all affected passengers receive appropriate compensation for the inconvenience caused.

The EC Regulation 261/2004 is binding in all EU member states but is often either unknown or misunderstood by those affected.

This article will explore the facts on “what are your rights for European flight delays, cancellations, and overbooking”.

What is the EC 261 Compensation Rule?

EC 261 is a European Union law that provides air passengers with certain rights when their flights are delayed, canceled, or overbooked.

Generally, if your flight is delayed for more than three hours or is canceled without any prior notice, completely for reasons other than extraordinary circumstances, then you’re eligible for compensation.

In addition to monetary compensation for out-of-pocket expenses and emotional distress, EC 261 also requires airlines to provide air passengers with meals, refreshments, and hotel accommodations.

Under What Circumstances Do You Qualify for EC 261 Compensation?

Navigating EU air passenger rights can be complex, but knowing when you qualify for compensation under EC 261 is essential for travelers impacted by flight disruptions. Here are the key criteria:

  1. Your flight must depart from an EU airport, or arrive at an EU airport and must have been operated by an EU-regulated airline.
  2. The flight must be delayed by more than three hours at your final destination to qualify for compensation.
  3. The delay or cancellation must be due to reasons within the airline’s control, such as crew shortages or technical failures. Circumstances beyond the airline’s control, like extreme weather, generally do not qualify for compensation.

Armed with this knowledge of EC 261 legislation, you can confidently pursue a claim against the airline responsible for the disruption, seeking compensation for any inconvenience or loss experienced.

Compensation Under EC 261 Regulation: What Are You Entitled To?

Delay-Specific Rights

  • 2+ Hours: Travelers are provided with essential care including meals, refreshments, and means of communication.
  • 3+ Hours: Qualifies for delayed flight compensation when the arrival delay surpasses three hours.
  • 5+ Hours: Offers options such as a full refund if you opt not to travel, or accommodations and transport for overnight delays.

Rights for Flight Cancellations

  • Less than 14 Days Before Departure: Entitled to cancelled flight compensation unless the airline proves the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances.
  • 7 to 14 Days Before Departure: Compensation is warranted if the replacement flight departs no more than two hours earlier and arrives less than four hours later than originally scheduled.
  • More than 14 Days Before Departure: No compensation necessary.


  • Right to Reimbursement or Re-routing: Passengers may opt for a full refund of the unused portions of their ticket or a reroute to their final destination.
  • Right to Care: In the event of a delay, airlines are obligated to provide meals, refreshments, accommodation (if necessary), and transport between the airport and the place of accommodation.

EC 261 Compensation Table

Flight Distance Compensation Amount
Up to 1500 km €250
More than 1500 km and up to 3500 km (within Europe) €400
Over 3500 km (crossing EU borders) €600

How Much You Could Receive if You Hired a Claim Company

Through ClaimFlights, you could get 75% of the EC 261 Compensation. Other claim companies offer payouts ranging from 50% to 75%.

The table below provides a direct comparison of receivable payouts from different flight compensation claiming companies.

Receivable Payouts through Different EU Claim Companies

Flight Distance Up to 1500 km 1501 to 3500 km Over 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.

Steps to Claiming Compensation

Under the EU Passenger Rights Regulation, passengers can claim compensation for flight delays, cancellations, or overbookings occurring within the past one to three years. If you find yourself in any of these situations, you could be entitled to financial compensation from the airline.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you claim what you’re owed:

  1. Gather Flight Details: Collect all relevant information about your flight, such as the flight number, departure and arrival airports, and flight dates.
  2. Calculate Your Compensation: Use a flight compensation calculator to determine the amount you can claim under the EC 261 Regulation.
  3. File Your Claim: Submit a claim for your delayed, canceled, or overbooked flight. Ensure you provide all necessary documentation, such as tickets and boarding passes.
  4. Await the Airline’s Response: The airline has 30 days to respond to your claim. Be patient and keep track of any communications.
  5. Receive Your Compensation: If your claim is approved, you should receive your compensation promptly.

Remember: Compensation rights under EC 261 apply to all flights departing from EU airports, as well as flights from non-EU airports landing at EU airports operated by EU airlines. If you experience any disruption during your flight, verify your eligibility for compensation immediately!

How ClaimFlights Enhances Your Compensation Process

High Success Rate

With over 10 years of experience, ClaimFlights has a proven track record of helping passengers secure the compensation they deserve under the EC 261 Regulation. Our success rate in court exceeds 99%, ensuring that we will tirelessly work to get you compensated for any flight disruptions.

User-Friendly Platform

Claiming your EC 261 compensation is straightforward with our easy-to-use platform. Simply submit your flight details, and we’ll handle the rest. You’ll receive personalized updates on the progress of your claim, allowing you to monitor the process effortlessly until completion.

Experienced Professionals

Our team of seasoned professionals is dedicated to assisting you at every step. We provide comprehensive support, addressing any questions and offering detailed information about your claim. Our experts in EU air passenger rights ensure you receive the best advice and guidance throughout the process.

If you’ve experienced a flight disruption recently or even within the past year, you may still be eligible for compensation. Let ClaimFlights help you secure what’s rightfully yours with our experienced team and top-notch platform. We are committed to making the compensation process as smooth and effective as possible.

Esenia Ulbrich

Esenia Ulbrich

Founder & Legal Head

Esenia Ulbrich is the founder of ClaimFlights and heads the legal team. She holds a master's in business administration and loves sailing in the Saronic Gulf, hiking in the Alpes, and spending time with her daughter.

We help in many languages – ClaimFlights International Websites