Flight Delayed or Cancelled? Follow these Essential Steps

What Should You Do When Your Flight is Delayed or Cancelled

Apr 4, 2023

Flight delays or cancellations can be a frustrating experience for any air traveler. However, for passengers to and from Europe, you can take solace in the fact that EU law EC 261 provides protection and compensation for such disruptions.

In this article, we’ll discuss what you should do when your flight is delayed or canceled, and how to navigate the process of claiming your rights under European Regulation EC 261.

Step 1: Understand Your Rights Under EU Law EC 261

First and foremost, familiarize yourself with your rights under EU law EC 261. This regulation applies to passengers departing from an EU airport or arriving at an EU airport with an EU-based airline.

It covers flight delays, cancellations, and involuntarily denied boarding. EU law applies globally, no matter your citizenship. Depending on the circumstances, passengers may be entitled to compensation or a refund.

The table will provide a clearer understanding of whether you are eligible for compensation or not.

Origin and Destination EU Airline Non-EU Airline
EU to EU ✅Yes ✅Yes
EU to Non-EU ✅Yes ✅Yes
Non-EU to EU ✅Yes ❌No
Non-EU to Non-EU ❌No ❌No

Step 2: Determine the Cause of Flight Disruption

The reason for the delay or cancellation is crucial in determining your eligibility for compensation. If the disruption is due to extraordinary circumstances such as extreme weather, political unrest, or security threats, airlines are exempted from providing compensation.

However, if the delay or cancellation is within the airline’s control, such as technical issues or crew scheduling, you may be entitled to compensation, depending on the route distance (calculated using the great circle route method) and how long it was delayed.

Step 3: Gather Documents For Your Claim

When your flight is delayed or canceled, it’s essential to gather evidence that supports your claim.

Here are the important documents to have when filing for compensation:

  • Booking confirmation or flight ticket
  • Boarding pass
  • Proof of delay or cancellation (e.g., official notification from the airline)
  • Any communication with the airline regarding the disruption
  • Receipts for expenses incurred (e.g., food, phone calls, accommodation)

These are the important documents to support your claim and provide evidence for your delayed or canceled flight.

Step 4: Communicate with the Airline

Maintain open communication with the airline throughout the process. Request information about alternative transportation, meals, accommodation vouchers, and any other assistance they’re required to provide under EU law EC 261. Be sure to keep records of all communication, including emails and phone calls.

Responsibility of the Airline

  • Providing Clear Communication: Airlines should ensure open and transparent lines of communication with passengers like prompt and accurate updates via SMS, email, or mobile applications
  • Offering Timely Information: Airlines should provide comprehensive information about the reason for the delay, the expected duration, and any available alternatives or compensation options.
  • Ensuring Passenger Comfort: Airlines should make efforts to keep passengers comfortable during delays. This includes providing access to clean restroom facilities, comfortable seating, and appropriate refreshments, depending on the duration of the delay.
  • Assisting Passengers with Connecting Flights: The airline has to assist passengers with connecting flights affected by delays. Airlines should proactively assist in rebooking or making alternative arrangements.
  • Continually Monitoring the Situation: Airlines should stay vigilant and monitor the situation to provide necessary support and updates about the delay.

Step 5: File a Claim for Compensation

If you’re eligible for compensation under EU law EC 261, file a claim as soon as possible. Include all relevant documentation and evidence of the delay or cancellation. The airline has up to six weeks to respond to your claim.

If they deny your claim or provide an unsatisfactory response, you can escalate the issue to the relevant National Enforcement Body (NEB), or hire a flight delay claim company (as they do have the knowledge and expertise to handle crucial flight compensation cases), or consider legal action.

How much compensation you are entitled to for a delayed flight

Now, let’s discuss potential compensation for a delayed flight. You could receive between 250 to 600 Euros, depending on the flight distance and how long it was delayed.

Here’s a breakdown of the potential compensation amounts:

  • If your flight was less than 1500 kilometers and it was delayed by 3 or more hours, you might receive €250.
  • For flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometers that were delayed by 3 or more hours, you could be eligible for €400.
  • And if your flight was over 3500 kilometers and delayed by 4 hours or more, you could receive €600.

If your flight didn’t cross EU borders, they might reduce the compensation by half. So, for distances over 3500 km within the EU, you could get up to €300 instead.

Flight Delay Compensation Table

Amount of Compensation Length of Delay Flight Distance
250 Euro 3+ Hours 1500 km or less
400 Euro 3+ Hours 1500 to 3500 km
300 Euro 3+ Hours 3500 km or more (within EU)
600 Euro 4+ Hours 3500 km or more


Dealing with flight delays and cancellations can be a hassle, but knowing your rights under EU law EC 261 can make the process less daunting. By understanding the EU regulation and following the steps outlined in this article, you’ll be better prepared to handle such situations and ensure you receive the compensation and assistance you’re entitled to.

Safe travels!

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Pramod Ram

Pramod Ram

Digital Marketing Strategist

Pramod Ram heads the Online Marketing and Content Marketing Team at Claim Flights GmbH. He loves to travel, read books, watch movies and do intensive research.

If your flight delays for more than 3 hours, or was canceled, you may be eligible for compensation up to €600 based on EU 261 rule.

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