Flight Cancellation Compensation | Flightright Guide

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Cancelled Flight Compensation
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Cancelled Flight Compensation

Whether you are someone who packs a week ahead of schedule or someone who stays up into the small hours to get it done at the last minute, the disappointment we feel when we find out our flight has been cancelled is the same. One of the most common questions our Flightright team gets asked is, “If my flight is cancelled, do I get a refund?” And we can answer that for you. Under the EU Regulation Nr. 261/2004, air passengers are entitled to a ticket refund or a replacement flight. In some cases, passengers are also entitled to flight cancellation compensation.

Curious to know if you are eligible for compensation? Enter your original flight details into our free compensation calculator and we will let you know in a few short and easy steps. There is no obligation to open a case, so what are you waiting for? Check your claim now.

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Because of the spread of the coronavirus, many connections have been closed and cancellations continue to occur. Some connections have been cancelled due to a lack of occupation. In such cases, you may be entitled to compensation. A prerequisite for this is that the airline has informed you of the cancellation less than 14 days before departure.

Key Points about “Flight cancellation compensation”

  • Flight cancellations can be caused by a variety of factors, such as bad weather, strikes, or technical issues with the aircraft.
  • Passengers have certain rights if their flight is canceled, including the right to rebooking, a refund, or compensation under certain circumstances.
  • If the cancellation is due to reasons within the airline’s control, such as a technical issue, passengers may be entitled to compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004.
  • Compensation amounts vary based on the length of the flight and the amount of notice given by the airline, and can range from €250 to €600 per passenger.
  • Passengers should contact their airline as soon as possible if their flight is canceled, and may also be entitled to assistance and care, such as food, drinks, and accommodation if necessary.
  • Airlines are not required to provide compensation if the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond their control, such as bad weather or air traffic control strikes.
  • Passengers have up to three years to file a claim for compensation under EU Regulation 261/2004.

You had a flight delay or a flight cancellation? Check your rights now and increase your chances of compensation

What are my rights in the event of a flight cancellation?

  • You are entitled to either a ticket refund or a replacement flight
  • You can claim compensation if the airline informed you of the cancellation less than 14 days before the scheduled departure date
  • The amount of compensation is between €250 to €600 per passenger depending on the distance of the flight
  • You are entitled to receive refreshments and beverages during long waiting periods
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What are my actions if the flight is cancelled?

  • Ask the airline to put the reason for the cancellation in writing
  • Collect evidence: replacement flight tickets, expense receipts, vouchers
  • Enjoy complimentary food and drinks at the airport
  • Find out if you are entitled to compensation with our online compensation calculator

Did you have a flight cancellation?

When Do I Receive Compensation for a Cancelled Flight?

Before we get into this topic, it is important to understand that ticket refunds and compensation are two separate things. If your flight gets cancelled by the airline, you are entitled to receive either a full ticket refund or a new flight. If the flight is cancelled after you have already arrived at the airport, you are also entitled to care. This includes two free phone calls, fax messages, or e-mails as well as refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time and hotel accommodation when the cancellation necessitates an overnight stay.

In addition to a ticket refund and care, there are certain circumstances under which an air passenger may also be entitled to compensation for a cancelled flight:

  1. If the airline failed to inform you about the cancellation at least 14 days before your flight’s scheduled departure date.
  2. If the airline could have avoided the cancellation had they undertaken all reasonable measures.

The EU Regulation Nr. 261/2004 states that airlines should inform customers about cancellations at least 14 days prior to departure. If the airline fails to notify you in a timely manner, you could be entitled to €250 – €600 (per passenger) depending on the distance of the flight. The same applies to flights that are brought forward at short notice.

Tip: we recommend you check the “spam” or “clutter” folder of your email inbox before claiming compensation as notifications from the airline sometimes end up here.

The following table provides a comprehensive overview of the circumstances under which air passengers may be entitled to cancelled flight compensation:

Notification prior to departureAlternative flight lands at the destinationRight to compensation
More than 14 days beforeDeparture/arrival IrrelevantNo
7 -14 days beforeDeparts no more than 2 hours earlier/arrives less than 4 hours laterNo
7 -14 days beforeDeparts more than 2 hours earlier/arrives more than 4 hours laterYes
Less than 7 days beforeDeparts no more than 1 hour earlier/arrives less than 2 hours laterYes
Less than 7 days beforeDeparts more than 1 hour earlier/arrives more than 2 hours laterYes
Less than 14 days beforeNo alternative flight offeredYes

In some cases, it is not possible for an airline to notify passengers about the cancellation 14 days in advance because the flight is cancelled at short notice. When this happens, we look at why the flight was cancelled. In order to make a compensation claim, the airline has to be responsible for the cause of the cancellation. Flights cancelled due to technical problems fall into this category as aircraft maintenance is inherent to an airline’s daily operations and should not disrupt flight schedules. Sometimes, however, problems occur which are not the fault of the airline. Even when this happens, airlines must be able to show that they took reasonable measures to prevent a cancellation from occurring.

Keep in mind that the EU Regulation Nr. 261/2004 can only be applied in the European Union. Your flight must have been scheduled to depart from the EU with any air carrier, or land in the EU with an EU air carrier. Additionally, you need to have presented yourself at the airport with sufficient time to check-in and board your flight unless your flight was cancelled before you reached the airport.

If your flight qualifies based on the above notification periods, you have the right to compensation if the following conditions are also met:

  • The airline was responsible for the cancellation
  • You checked in for your flight on time
  • Your flight was due to depart within the EU or land in the EU, for the latter the airline needs to have its headquarters in the EU
  • You encountered these problems on a flight operated in the last 6 six years

Provided the above conditions are met, you’ll be eligible to the following compensation:

  • Short distances – up to 1500km – Passengers are entitled to €250 compensation
  • Medium distances – Between 1500km and 3500km – Passengers are entitled to €400 compensation
  • Long distances – More than 3500km – Passengers are entitled to €600 compensation

Compensation for flight cancellation: You are entitled to

Short distance up to 1500 kmMedium distance up to 3500 kmLong distance from 3500 km
e.g. London – Edinburghe.g. London – Athense.g. London – Tokyo

What compensation am I entitled to in case of flight cancellation at the destination after possible rebooking and/or diversion?

up to 2 hoursup to 3 hoursup to 4 hoursnever arrivedDistance
125€*250€*250€*250€*< 1500  km
200€*400€*400€*400€*1500 km – 3500 km
300€*600€*600€*600€*> 3500 km
**Added commission (usually 20 to 30% plus VAT)


You can claim up to €600 in compensation, even if you have already been reimbursed for the price of your ticket. If the airline provides you with refreshment vouchers, this doesn’t alleviate their responsibility to issue your compensation.

How Long Are Compensation Claims Valid?

Every country has its own rules when it comes to how much time you have to claim compensation. In Germany, for example, claims must be enforced within three years. The three year period begins from the end of the year in which the incident occurred. This means that if your flight was cancelled on 01.01.2014, you have until the end of 2017 to enforce your claim – that’s almost four years.

If the airline you flew with is headquartered in the UK, you have even more time to enforce your claim: six years! The country to watch out for is Sweden where customers have just two months to raise a complaint against the airline. 

Not sure how much time you have left to enforce your claim or want to check a past flight problem that you had forgotten all about? Enter your original flight details into our free online compensation calculator and we will let you know if you are eligible to claim delayed or cancelled flight compensation.

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What Are “Extraordinary Circumstances”?

Extraordinary circumstances are events which cause flight disruption over which the airline has no control. This could be something like a medical emergency or a national strike, bad weather conditions or air traffic control restrictions.

When an extraordinary event occurs, the airline is not legally obliged to pay compensation. As straightforward as that sounds, the airline cannot use “extraordinary circumstances” as an excuse to avoid paying compensation. The air carrier must be able to prove that it took all reasonable measures to minimise disruption to flight schedules.

Following a thorough inspection of the case, our legal assessment team often finds that the airline did not do everything they could to avoid the delay or cancellation. In such cases, air passengers may still be entitled to claim compensation for the cancelled flight.

If the airline states that the disruption is caused by an extraordinary circumstance, this does not automatically exempt the airline from paying compensation. According to the ECJ ruling of 11 June 2020 (Case C-74/19), airlines must prove that they took all possible measures to re-route affected passengers at the earliest opportunity. The airline must demonstrate that it was not possible to rebook individual passengers onto a faster connection. In doing so, airlines must prove that they examined the possibility of rebooking passengers not only onto their own flights, but also the flights of other airlines. This includes both direct and indirect connections. If an alternative means of transportation, such as bus, train or taxi, could get a passenger to their destination faster, this must also be taken into account.

Are you affected by the Lufthansa strike? You may be entitled to up to €600 in compensation. Find more about the Lufthansa strike here.

How Can I Ensure That My Future Flights Are Secure?

We can’t predict the future but we know that delays and cancellations aren’t going away any time soon. If you have a flight coming up in the future, you can already take steps to ensure that your rights are protected. Simply enter the details of any upcoming flights into our online compensation calculator and we will reach out to you if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

In the event that any of your flights are disrupted, we will supply you with relevant information about your rights and let you know if you are entitled to claim compensation for your cancelled flights.

What makes it so difficult for me to assert my rights myself?

On a regular basis, airlines do not follow up on passengers’ complaints and when they do, they opt to respond to them through standardised letters asking passengers with complaints to wait for a prolonged period of time. Another practice with some airlines is to offer discount coupons, which are often much lower in value than the owed compensation, claiming that this is what their passengers are entitled to. In reality, European rules on air passenger rights are not well known, and airlines do not always inform passengers of their rights. Without sound legal knowledge, passengers are often lost and do not know how or to whom to turn for help with claiming compensation.

This is something that Flightright refuses to accept. Thanks to our experience and expertise at the European level, we know the subtleties and pitfalls to avoid in this matter, which makes us able to assist you in obtaining compensation for your flight cancellation.


What are my rights if my flight is cancelled?

If you’ve experienced a lengthy waiting time at departure you’re entitled to more than your potential compensation, regardless of whether the airline is responsible for the cancellation or not. Among other thing, the airline is required to provide its passengers with food and refreshments. Passengers are also entitled to 2 free phone calls or emails. These benefits must be offered regardless of the circumstances surrounding the cancellation – regardless of whether it’s a technical fault, bad weather or strike action.

  • Short distance (Less than 1500km): delayed over 2 hours – free drinks and food, and 2 phone calls, emails or faxes
  • Medium distance (between 1500 and 3500km): delayed over 3 hours – free drinks and food, and 2 phone calls, emails or faxes
  • Long-haul (More than 3500km): delayed over 4 hours – free drinks and food, and 2 phone calls, emails or faxes

Flight postponed to the next day

When your flight is rescheduled for a next-day departure, the company usually arranges your hotel accommodation and transportation to and from the hotel. The company should normally provide you with the necessary information, but it is recommended to obtain written confirmation from them. Finally, remember to check with the company before making a reservation by yourself.

Checklist: This is what you are entitled to if your flight is cancelled

  • You may be entitled to compensation if you found out about the cancellation less than 14 days before departure
  • You can either be reimbursed for the price of your ticket or get the airline to offer you an alternative connection as soon as possible
  • From 2 hours on waiting at the airport you are also entitled to refreshments and snacks


  • You have checked in for your flight on time (generally no less than 45 minutes before departure).
  • You encountered these problems on a flight operated no more than 6 years ago.
  • Extraordinary circumstances like strikes or bad weather release the airlines from their obligation to pay compensation
  • The flight took off in the EU (from any airline) or landed in the EU (provided that the airline is headquartered in the EU).
  • You can claim compensation even if you have travelled with a tour package or had a business trip

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Recent Flight Cancellations

We are constantly monitoring flights to and from the European Union. If you were recently affected by a cancellation, your flight should appear in the following table. In order to make a compensation claim, simply select your flight and follow the onscreen instructions to submit your claim. It only takes two minutes to submit a claim, our team of dedicated legal experts take care of the rest.

Can’t find your flight? Don’t worry, head to our homepage and enter your flight details directly into our online compensation calculator.


Did you have a flight cancellation?

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