Flight Cancelled

The EC 261/2004 also established the rules for flight cancellations. The compensation amount is the same and ranges between 250 and 600 euros depending on the flight. However, a flight cancellation is a bit more complex. Keep reading to learn about your rights. 

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Definition of canceled flight

A flight is considered as canceled if the plane never left the tarmac. The EC 261 regulation defines a canceled flight as “The non-operation of a flight which was previously planned and on which at least one place was reserved”.

There could be a number of reasons an airline can cancel a flight. For example, problems like bad weather or security risks can create a knock-on effect leading an airline to pull the plug on a flight.

The EC 261 regulation gives passengers the right to compensate up to 600 euros for flight cancellations. We’ll go into details below on how much you could be entitled.

Which flights are covered under the EC 261/2004?

In order to claim compensation for a cancelled flight, you must comply with a number of conditions based on the EC 261/2004. 

  • The flight is within the EU and the operator can be an EU or non-EU airline;
  • The flight departs from an EU country to a non-EU country and the operator can be an EU or non-EU airline;
  • The flight departs from outside the EU to an EU country and the operator is an EU airline.

To summarize, all flights departing from the EU and all flights departing out of the EU operated by an EU airline are covered under this regulation. This regulation covers 28 EU countries and also includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. 

In addition, the right to file a claim for your cancelled flight is also limited in time. The time limit to submit a claim depends on the country of the operating airline. A claim against a UK airline is valid up to 6 years back while for Belgian airlines a claim is only valid for 1 year. In the table below, you can find a full list showing the time limit per country. 

 

Country

Limitation Period

Country

Limitation Period

Austria

3 years

Latvia

2 years

Belgium

1 year

Lithuania

3 years

Bulgaria

3 years

Luxembourg

10 years

Croatia

6 years

Malta

No limit

Cyprus

3 years

Netherlands

2 years

Czech Republic

3 years

Norway

3 years

Denmark

3 years

Poland

1 year

Estonia

3 years

Portugal

3 years

Finland

3 years

Romania

3 years

France

5 years

Slovakia

2 years

Germany

3 years

Slovenia

2 years

Greece

5 years

Spain

5 years

Hungary

5 years

Sweden

3 years

Iceland

2 years

Switzerland

2 years

Ireland

6 years

United Kingdom

6 years

Italy

26 months

 

 

 

The right to compensation for a cancelled flight

When your flight is cancelled, you have the right to choose between the following: 

  • A full refund of your flight
  • An alternative flight (re-routing) to your final destination

These rules apply regardless of the cancellation cause or whether you were informed on time or not. If your flight is cancelled while part-way through the trip, then you can also opt for either a refund or an alternative flight. However, in case you choose a refund, the airline must also provide transportation back to the original point of departure. In any case, when a cancellation delays you by 2 hours or more, the airline must provide care as explained in the flight delayed section. This means providing meals and refreshments, means of communication (phone/e-mail), and even hotel accommodation and transportation to and from the hotel if you are delayed overnight. 

Flight cancellation compensation

In addition to the above, based on the EC 261/2004 you may also be entitled to a financial compensation. This depends on when you were informed about the cancellation and on the departure and arrival time of the alternative flight (re-routing) offered by the airline. The following rules apply: 

  • If you were informed of the cancellation 14 days prior to departure, you are not entitled to compensation;
  • If you were informed between 7 and 14 days prior to departure, you may be entitled to compensation;
  • If you were informed of the cancellation less than 7 days prior to departure (for example at the airport), you may also be entitled to compensation.

The delay at the final destination must be at least 2 hours compared to the original flight. Take a look at the tables below to check whether you are entitled and how much you can get when your flight is cancelled. 

Flight cancelled 7-14 days before departure

 

Flight Distance

Departure and Arrival Times

Compensation Amount

  < 1.500km

Departure: 2h or more earlier than original flight, and
Arrival: 2h or less later than original flight

€125

Departure: 2h or more earlier than original flight, and
Arrival: 2h or more later than original flight

€250

Arrival: at least 4 hours later than original flight

€250


Between 1,500 and 3,500 km

Departure:2h or more earlier than original flight, and
Arrival: 3 h or less later than original flight

€200

Departure: 2h or more earlier than original flight, and
Arrival: 3 - 4 h later than original flight

€400

Arrival: at least 4 hours later than original flight

€400

  > 3.500km

Departure: 2h or more earlier than original flight, and
Arrival: 4 h or less later than original flight

€300

Arrival: at least 4 hours later than original flight

€600

 

Flight cancelled less than 7 days before departure

 

Flight Distance

Departure and Arrival Times

Compensation Amount

  < 1.500km

Departure: 1h or more earlier than original flight, and
Arrival: 2h or less later than original flight

€125

Arrival: at least 2 hours later than original flight

€250


Between 1,500 и 3,500 km

Departure: 1h or more earlier than original flight, and
Arrival: 3h or less later than original flight

€200

Arrival: at least 3 hours later than original flight

€400

  > 3.500km

Departure: 1h or more earlier than original flight, and
Arrival: 4h or less later than original flight

 


€300

 

Arrival: at least 4 hours later than original flight

€600

 

If the airline did not offer an alternative flight, then the usual flight compensation schema is used to determine your rights:

 

Flight Distance Length of Delay Compensation Amount
  < 1.500km

0 - 3 hours

no compensation

3 - 4 hours

€250

4+ hours

€250


Between 1,500 и 3,500 km

0 - 3 hours

no compensation

3 - 4 hours

€400

4+ hours

€400

  > 3.500km

0 - 3 hours

no compensation

3 - 4 hours

€300

4+ hours

€600

 

Flight cancellation compensation reduced by 50%

The airline may reduce the compensation by 50% if another flight to the final destination was offered for which the arrival time does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the original flight by:

  • 2 hours for all flights of 1,500 kilometres or less;
  • 3 hours for all flights within the EU of more than 1,500 kilometres;
  • 3 hours for all flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres;
  • 4 hours for all flights of more than 3,500 kilometres.

Example: Your flight has been cancelled 12 days before departure. The airline offers another flight. The new flight departs at 16:00 instead of the original departure time of 17:00, which is 1 hour earlier. The arrival time is 3 hours later. In this example, you are not entitled to compensation because it is still within the norms. 

Extraordinary circumstances

A flight cancellation compensation only applies when the airline can be held accountable. Based on the EC 261/2004, the operating airline is not liable for delays caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’. These are circumstances that could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. To put it simply, when the cancellation is out of their control, the airline is not responsible and the air passenger has no right to compensation. Think of: 

  • Adverse Weather Conditions
  • Air Traffic Control Restrictions
  • Strikes (unrelated to airlines)
  • Birds Strikes
  • Safety and/or Security Risks
  • Medical Emergency
  • Hidden manufacturing defects

However, it is good to know that airlines have been guilty of using extraordinary circumstances as an excuse to justify a flight delay. Keep in mind that the airline has to provide proof (“burden of proof”) when they use extraordinary circumstances as a reason to discharge themselves from all responsibility. For example, a strike by airline staff is not considered an extraordinary circumstance nor do ‘bad weather conditions’ always justify a delay. In addition, technical problems that are not related to manufacturing defects are not considered extraordinary circumstances. 

Claim your canceled flight with Claim24

Claim24 is here to protect the rights of air passengers and claim a flight compensation from the airline. We file the claim on behalf of the passenger, get in touch with the airline, and take care of everything using inhouse legal and aviation expertise. No payments upfront, no payment if we lose, and no financial risk – we work on a ‘no win, no fee basis’. When we win, we take a 24% commission fee from the total compensation amount (incl. VAT). 

Interested? Use our free claim calculator to find out if you are entitled to a flight compensation. 

 

 
 
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