The EU has implemented improved rights for airline passengers concerning overbooked, cancelled and delayed flights.
When do the regulations apply?
The regulations apply to airline flights alone and as part of package holidays. Furthermore, flights to and from airports within the EU and flights from airports outside the EU to airports within the EU are also covered, as long as the airline is an EU airline.
The rules do not apply to passengers travelling free of charge or on tickets at reduced price, which are neither directly nor indirectly available to regular consumers.
However, the regulations do apply to tickets issued on the basis of a bonus programme or the like. To be covered by the regulations, you must have checked in on time and have a valid ticket
If there is not enough room on the flight for all the passengers who have booked or checked in for the flight, the airline is obliged to ask if there are any passengers who will volunteer not to fly on that flight.
If you volunteer not to fly on the flight, you must be offered compensation according to terms agreed upon with the airline. Furthermore, the airline must help you to get your money back or book a new flight.
If there are not enough volunteers, the airline might have to deny some of the passengers seats on the flight. If you are denied a seat on the flight against your will, you must immediately be given compensation depending on the length of the flight in question.
- EUR 250 for flights of 1,500 km or shorter.
- EUR 400 for longer flights within the EU and for other flights of between 1,500 and 3,500 km.
- EUR 600 for flights that are longer than 3,500 km outside the EU.
If you are not delayed for more than two, three or four hours in reaching your final destination, the amount of the compensation can be reduced by half. Furthermore, you must be offered your money back on your ticket, a return flight or a new flight as well as food and drink.
The airline must also ensure that you can pass on a message free of charge about your delay by telephone, fax or e-mail.
If hotel accommodation is necessary, the airline must also arrange and pay for this. Furthermore, the airline must show special consideration for persons with reduced mobility, accompanying passengers and children who are travelling together.
If your flight is cancelled, the airline must help you to get your money back on your ticket, book a return flight to the original departure location or replan your journey as well as provide food and drink.
The airline must also ensure that you can pass on a message free of charge about your delay by telephone, fax or e-mail. If accommodation is necessary, the airline must also arrange and pay for this.
You have the right to compensation and transport, although not in cases where you have been informed of the change a certain period of time in advance and have accepted rebooking, or if the cancelled flight is due to extraordinary circumstances, which the airline could not avoid.
If your flight is delayed, the airline must give you various types of service, depending on the length of the delay and the length of the flight. For a delay
- of two hours or more for flights of less than 1,500 km.
- of three hours or more for flights within the EU of less than 1,500 km.
- of four hours or more for flights of longer than 3,500 km and outside the EU.
The airline must ensure that you can pass on a message free of charge about your delay by telephone, fax or e-mail.
For delays until the next day, the airline must arrange and pay for hotel accommodation and transport. For delays of at least five hours, the airline must offer you your money back on the ticket and possibly a free flight back to your original departure location.
Persons with reduced mobility
Airlines must give first priority to persons with reduced mobility or special needs. For delays, denied seats on a flight or cancelled flights, these persons have the right to food, drink and accommodations as quickly as possible.
You can claim compensation for damages suffered if your luggage is destroyed, damaged, delayed or disappears on a flight with an EU airline anywhere in the world.
You must immediately inform the airline of the loss or damage. Claims for compensation on checked luggage must be submitted in writing within seven days after the luggage has been returned.
Delayed luggage must be reported within 21 days. You can submit your claim to the airline you have an agreement with or to the airline that flies the route if it is not the same airline.
The EU-Commissions poster with new and improved rights for airline passengers within the EU (PDF)