EU261- Passenger rights information

(a) Introduction

Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 (“EU261”) establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and entered into force on 17 February 2005. The airline on whose flight such disruption occurs is responsible for granting your rights under EU261.

The following information provides a summary of the relevant EU legislation. However, any legal claim or action taken in the event of a dispute should be based solely on the legal texts concerned, which may be found in the Official Journal of the European Union.”

(b) Application

EU261 applies in respect of: 

  • passengers departing from an airport located in EU; and
  • passengers departing from an airport located in a third country to an airport situated in the EU, unless they received benefits or compensation and were given assistance in that third country, if the operating airline of the flight concerned is an EU airline.

EU261 applies only on the condition that:

  • you have a confirmed reservation on the flight concerned;
  • (except in the case of a cancelled flight) you present yourself for check-in at the specified time or, if no time has been specified, no later than 45 minutes before the published departure time; and
  • you are not travelling free of charge or at a reduced fare not available directly or indirectly to the public. However, EU261 shall apply to passengers having tickets issued under a frequent flyer programme or other commercial programme by an airline or tour operator.

(c) Denied boarding

If you are involuntarily denied boarding on a flight you have booked, you have the right to receive care from the airline as set out below under "Long Delays". In addition, you will be offered re-routing to the final destination of your booked flight. This re-routing shall take place at the earliest opportunity and under comparable conditions.

Subject to available seating, you may, instead, be re-routed to your final destination at a later date/time of your choosing.

If you are involuntarily or voluntarily denied boarding, you have the right to an alternative flight or to reimbursement and compensation, which can also be provided by cash, cheque or, with your signed agreement, in the form of a voucher. The amount of this compensation depends on the distance of the planned route, calculated based on the last destination at which the passenger arrives later than the scheduled arrival time, and on the re-routing that has been offered to you. For flight distances:

  • of up to 1,500 km, the compensation is €250;
  • of between 1,500 and 3,500 km and for flights of more than 1,500 km within the EU, the compensation is €400; and
  • of more than 3,500 km, the compensation is €600.

If you are offered an alternative flight the compensation shall only be 50% of the above payment amounts, i.e. €125, €200, or €300, provided that the arrival time is not later than:

  • two hours after the scheduled arrival time of the originally booked flight, for flights of up to 1,500 km;
  • not more than three hours after the scheduled arrival time, for flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km and for flights of more than 1,500 km within the EU; or
  • not more than four hours after the scheduled arrival time, for flights of more than 3,500 km.

You are not entitled to the compensation described above where there are reasonable grounds to deny you boarding, such as reasons of health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation.

(d) Long delays

Your flight will be deemed to be delayed for the purposes of EU261 where the scheduled departure time is delayed by at least:

  • four hours, in the case of flights of more than 3,500 km;
  • three hours, in the case of flights of between 1,500 and 3,500 km and flights of more than 1,500 km within the EU; or
  • two hours, in the case of flights of up to 1,500 km.

When the airline reasonably expects your flight to be delayed, you have the right to receive care from the airline. This care includes: meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time and the opportunity to make two telephone calls, or to send two telex or fax messages, or two e-mails. The airline is not required to provide this care if you are responsible for a further delay of your departing flight.

Where your flight is delayed by more than five hours, you also have the right to reimbursement within seven days of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to your original travel plan, and, if applicable, to a return flight to the point of first departure at the earliest opportunity.

Where the airline reasonably expects your time of departure to be at least the day after the time of departure previously announced, you also have the right to receive further care from the airline. This care includes: hotel accommodation in cases where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or where a stay additional to that intended by you becomes necessary; and transport between the airport and your place of accommodation.

You have the right to compensation if your arrival at the destination airport is delayed by more than three hours. However, compensation will not be offered if the cause of the cancellation or delay is beyond the control of the airline, or for disruptions which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Such circumstances may, in particular, occur in cases of political instability, meteorological conditions, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and strikes that affect the airline’s operation. Neither will compensation be offered if the airline advised passengers about a flight cancellation at least two weeks before departure date and/or cases where a package tour is cancelled for reasons other than cancellation of the flight.

(e) Cancellation

If the flight for which you have a confirmed reservation is cancelled, you have the same rights to re-routing, care, reimbursement, and compensation as described above.

However, you are not entitled to compensation under EU261 if the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Such circumstances include, for instance, political instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with the operation of the flight concerned, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and strikes that affect the operation of an operating airline.

Similarly, you are not entitled to compensation if:

  • you are informed of the cancellation at least 14 days before the scheduled time of departure;
  • you are informed of the cancellation between 14 days and seven days before the scheduled time of departure and you are offered re-routing, allowing you to depart no more than two hours before the scheduled time of departure and to reach your final destination less than four hours after the scheduled time of arrival; or
  • you are informed of the cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure and you are offered re-routing, allowing you to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach your final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival.

(f) Downgrading

If you are downgraded to a lower class, you have the right to receive compensation from the airline within seven days. The airline shall compensate you:

  • 30% of the price of the ticket for all flights of 1,500 km or less;
  • 50% of the price of the ticket for all flights within the EU of more than 1,500 km  and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km; or
  • 75% of the price of the ticket for all flights of more than 3,500km.

(g) Limitation

The time limit for bringing any claim under EU261 will depend on the law of the state in which your case takes place.