Flight delay compensation deadline: What you should know
Holiday time is travel time. But the dream of sun, beach, and sea can quickly turn into a real nightmare. A flight delay in particular can quickly ruin plans for a long-awaited and well-deserved break. A delayed flight not only causes a lot of stress. If you have to make a connecting flight or train on time, you sometimes have to dig deep into your pocket to eventually reach your destination. But as a passenger, you don’t have to put up with that. After all, you can claim compensation.
This is the result of the EU Regulation EC 261 2004, the so-called Air Passenger Regulation. This sets out the most important rights that passengers can assert as a result of a delay or even a flight cancellation. As with the enforcement of all rights, however, the right timing is important here, too. There is also a deadline for compensation in the event of a flight delay. What rights apply in the event of delays, when a flight delay triggers compensation, and what time limit applies are discussed in more detail below.
Limitation periods in travel law: What you should know
A flight delay can be very annoying and is something travelers would certainly like to avoid. But if your airline is delayed, you do not have to put up with it. In most cases, you are entitled to extensive compensation. And quite rightly so. After all, additional costs often arise, especially on the outward journey, and travelers cannot be left without commensurate compensation. For example, EU Regulation 261 2004 regulates an extensive catalogue in which compensation payments by the airline are laid down.
Since the EU regulation focuses on air passenger rights, it is also called the Air Passenger Rights Regulation. Deadlines also play a major role in the regulation. After all, it would not be in the spirit of the rule of law for a passenger to be able to assert rights forever due to a delay. This would confound legal certainty. On the other hand, in the event of a delay, you do not have to call the airline directly and assert your rights. Rather, you are left with certain deadlines in these cases.
For example, it is possible to claim compensation from the airline retroactively. The limitation period for a claim for compensation against the airline in the event of a flight delay varies depending on the country in which the claim is made. This is clear from the wording of EU Regulation 261 2004. Here, EU law specifies that “the subject is subject to the national law of each Member State as regards the limitation period for bringing forward an action”. Consequently, it is worth taking a look at the rules of the country in which you wish to initiate your claim for damages.
For this, let us first take a look at German law. Here, the so-called standard limitation period is three years. This is regulated by § 195 BGB. The provision also states when the period begins and ends. Thus, the period starts at the end of the year in which the delay occurred. For example, if you had a flight delay in April 2021, the three-year period does not start to run until 31 December 2021. Consequently, you have until 31 December 2024 to make your claim.
Have you experienced a flight delay/cancellation?
According to the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation, the amount of compensation is calculated according to the flight route (distance):
|Short distance up to 1500 km||Medium distance up to 3500 km||Long distance from 3500 km|
|e.g. London – Edinburgh||e.g. London – Athens||e.g. London – Tokyo|
Time limit for compensation in case of flight delay
If passengers wish to enforce their passenger rights in Germany due to a flight delay, they, therefore, have three years from the end of the year to claim compensation. However, as already mentioned, the EU Passenger Rights Regulation stipulates that the deadlines are set by each individual EU Member State. So if you want to claim your rights in another EU country, the question is: How long are compensation claims valid? When it comes to the time limits for claiming compensation, Germany does not take a pioneering role. On the contrary, the standard limitation period in this country places it at the bottom of the league in an EU comparison. We have summarized which limitation periods apply in the other EU countries in the following table.
How long are compensation claims valid? Time limits for claiming compensation payments:
|Schweden (flightright.se)||10 years (2 months after flight problem customer must contact airline)|
|Großbritannien (flightright.co.uk)||6 years (from flight problem)|
|Frankreich (flightright.fr)||5 years (from flight problem)|
|Spanien (flightright.es)||5 years (from flight problem)|
|Deutschland (flightright.de)||3 Jahre (from the end of the year in the flight problem occurred)|
|Österreich (flightright.at)||3 years (from flight problem)|
|Norwegen||3 years (from flight problem)|
|Dänemark||3 years (from flight problem)|
|Finnland||3 years (from flight problem)|
|Italien (flightright.it)||1 year (in EU), 1.5 years for non-EU cases, or according to many Italian T&Cs 2 years from flight problem|
|Belgien||1 year from the occurrence of the flight problem (if the airline is contacted within one year, an extension to 5 years is possible)|
How is the limitation period calculated in Germany?
Concerning time limits, it is not only important to keep the mere duration of the time limit in mind. On top of that, the calculation of the time limit is of great importance. This is also the case with a flight delay. Different factors are decisive for the calculation. On the one hand, there is the question of the beginning of the time limit. This is the point in time at which the time limit begins to run. And here, by no means all EU countries act in unison. There are Member States in the EU in which the time limit begins to run immediately after the event, causing damage.
If the damaging event were to occur on 2 April 2022, the period for asserting the claim for compensation would expire on 2 April 2025 at the latest, based on a three-year period. But what about the flight delay compensation deadline in Germany? Here, neither the explicit day nor the month is used. Instead, the year in which the damaging event occurred is decisive. In Germany, the statute of limitations begins to run when the year ends. More precisely, on 31 December. If this falls on a Saturday or Sunday in a year, the period begins on the following working day in accordance with § 193 BGB.
In order to illustrate this, consider the following example. If the delay occurs on 2 April 2022, the deadline begins on 31 December 2022. However, 31 December 2022 falls on a Saturday. Consequently, the following Monday must be taken as the start of the period. Thus, in our example, the three-year period begins on 2 January 2023 and ends on 2 January 2026.
Flight delay compensation deadline: The limitation period for my flight delay has almost expired, what should I do?
Especially when there is a delay on the outbound flight to your holiday, you tend to forget about it. After all, you don’t want to worry about legal disputes during your well-deserved time off. However, it is important not to lose track of time and to keep your air passenger rights in mind. After all, you are entitled to compensation. If the statute of limitations is getting closer and closer, some people give up trying to enforce their rights against the airline.
But you don’t have to rack your brains even shortly before the deadline – at least if you rely on a reliable partner like Flightright. We do everything we can to check your claim for compensation within the shortest possible time. If we identify a valid cause for compensation, we will contact the responsible airline as soon as possible. This way, even shortly before the deadline, we do everything we can to ensure that you receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Place of departure or place of arrival: Whose limitation period counts?
The EU Passenger Rights Regulation establishes rights for air passengers throughout the European Union. Nevertheless, there can always be a great deal of confusion in individual cases. The reason for this is that the laws on time limits in individual states differ considerably in some cases. Thus, in the case of compensation, not only the question of the duration of the deadline and the calculation of the deadline arises. Of course, it is also necessary to check which national regulations should be applied at all. Do the regulations of the place of departure or arrival apply? The various compensation calculators you can find on the Internet will not be of any help here.
But you need not despair. After all, the answer to this question is pleasantly simple. You can assert your passenger rights both in the country where you took off and in the country where you landed. Alternatively, it is also possible to enforce your rights in the country where the airline responsible has its headquarters. Consequently, you can hardly go wrong here. However, if you want to be on the side of caution, it is advisable to consult an expert. Flightright will be happy to enforce your claims. The following example illustrates how this can look in practice.
Let’s assume that you flew with Lufthansa from Munich to Stockholm. Unfortunately, you had to cope with a severe delay of three and a half hours. In this case, you have two different countries at your disposal in which you can assert your claim for compensation. Since Lufthansa’s headquarters are in Frankfurt am Main and you took off from Munich, you can opt for German law on the one hand. On the other hand, you landed in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. Consequently, there is also the possibility of asserting your claim there.
But how do you decide correctly in such cases? Once again, it may be worth taking a look at the limitation periods. If the three-year limitation period under German law has expired, you don’t have to bury your head in the sand. A claim can still be made in Sweden. Since the statute of limitations in this Scandinavian country is 10 years, you can assert your passenger rights there for much longer.
Flight delay compensation deadline: What time counts in the event of a flight delay, and how much compensation are you entitled to?
A delayed flight is annoying, and rightly so. But passengers do not just have to put up with this. On the contrary, they are entitled to compensation. This is the result of the EU Passenger Rights Regulation 261/2004. The amount of compensation depends on various factors. For example, EU air passenger law is based on the delay time as well as the distance of the flight. Your airline is also obliged to inform you comprehensively about the Air Passenger Rights Regulation.
Unfortunately, not all airlines comply with this obligation. Instead, passengers sometimes only find out about the legal options available in the event of a delay or cancellation in the small print. To ensure that you are well informed about your rights even if you have not been informed by your airline, we have put together a table of the individual compensation amounts.
|Less than 3 hours flight delay||3-4 hours flight delay||More than 4 hours flight delay||Never arrived||Distance|
|0 €||250 €||250 €||250 €||Flights up to 1,500 km|
|0 €||400 €||400 €||400 €||Flights over 1,500 km (within the EU)|
|0 €||400 €||400 €||400 €||Flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km (outside the EU)|
|0 €||600 €||600 €||600 €||Flights over 3,500 km (outside the EU)|
How can I cover my future flight?
In most cases, airlines are obliged to pay compensation in the event of a delay of more than three hours or even cancellation. Unfortunately, many passengers still do not assert their right to compensation. Air passenger portals like Flightright are the right contacts in these cases. We stand up for your air passenger rights and make sure that you are compensated for your flight delay. You can calculate how much you are entitled to in detail in advance with the help of our compensation calculator. This way, a nuisance from your last flight can become an attractive down payment for your next holiday.
How can Flightright help you?
You are stuck at the airport because of a flight delay? Your flight has been canceled, or you have been removed from the passenger list? In each of the situations described, you have a right to compensation as an air passenger.
Tip: Flightright helps you enforce your air passenger rights! With us, you can check your claims free of charge in two minutes. ✔️Easy, ✔️fast & without ✔️risk
According to the EU Passenger Rights Regulation, passengers are entitled to compensation in the event of a delay, cancellation, overbooking, or missed connection. You can claim up to 600 euros of compensation per person (minus commission fee). This compensation is independent of the ticket price. Flightright enforces your right for you. If necessary also in court.
As experts on the subject of air passenger rights, we enforce your right to compensation against the airline! Flightright’s air passenger rights experts are also happy to help you with ticket reimbursements