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Flight cancellation compensation

A cancelled flight isn’t something you just have to accept. The EU Air Passenger Rights and Regulations is on your side and gives you the right to receive compensation from the airline under certain conditions. This applies whether you found about the cancellation a few hours or weeks before the scheduled departure.

discovery of the flight cancellation at the airport

Reimbursement or an alternative flight if your flight is cancelled?

In principle, airlines are obliged to inform you about a flight cancellation as soon as possible and offer an acceptable alternative flight. This is in the airline’s best interests, because it may release them from the obligation to pay you compensation. You also have the right to decline this right, if you choose to no longer fly.

If your flight has been cancelled, then you can choose either:

  • to be reimbursed for the ticket price of the original flight
  • to have alternative transportation (such as another flight, train, bus) arranged for you BY the airline
  • to be offered alternative transportation at a later time (provided that there are seats available)
  • to be flown back to your original departure airport
Please note: Even if your ticket has been reimbursed for the cancelled flight, you are also entitled to a compensation ranging from €250-€600 per passenger.

Our tip - check alternative flights first

Before you accept the airline’s alternative offer, check how much it would cost you to book a flight yourself and what sort of connections are available. This might be a cheaper option for you and could make it worth your while to get a refund from the airline and then make a new booking.

Remember to always consult the airline and to not just book on your own accord. Let the airline know what your plans are and get them to issue a written confirmation that they agree to you booking an alternative flight yourself. This will save you any hassle later on when it comes to getting the refund.

What am I entitled to if my flight is cancelled?

  • If your flight is cancelled, 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
  • You can be entitled to compensation if you found out about the cancellation less than 14 days before departure
  • The compensation ranges from EUR 250 to EUR 600 per person
  • If you don’t find out about the flight cancellation until you are at the airport, then you are also entitled to refreshments or snacks
  • Extraordinary circumstances release airlines from any obligation to pay compensation
  • Your rights are based on the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation 261/2004
  • Your entitlement to compensation also applies to package holidays

What should I do if my flight is cancelled?

  • Get the airline to issue you with written confirmation of the cancellation and the reasons for the cancellation
  • If your flight is cancelled on short notice, we recommend that you collect proof in the form of receipts, alternative tickets, vouchers and photos
  • You are entitled to refreshments and meals from the airline: insist on getting what you are entitled to
  • Use our service to check whether you are eligible for compensation
  • Consult our experts to help you get compensation for your cancelled flight

When do I get compensation for a flight cancellation?

You're entitled to compensation from EUR 250 to EUR 600 if you meet the following conditions:

  • You were informed about the flight cancellation less than 14 days before the scheduled departure
  • You encountered these problems on a flight operated in the last 6 six years
  • You checked in for your flight on time
  • The airline was responsible for the cancellation
  • Your flight was due to depart within the EU or land in the EU and your airline also has headquarters in the EU
  • You are offered an alternative flight that departs much earlier or arrives much later than your cancelled flight. Please see table below for more details.

Cancellation period timeframe:

If the airline informed you of the cancellation more than 14 days before your planned departure, then you are not entitled to any compensation. If the airline informed you of the cancellation less than 14 days before your planned departure, then your entitlement depends on whether the alternative flight offered to you lands much later or much earlier. In general: the sooner the airline informs you of the flight cancellation, the greater the deviation you have to accept from your originally booked flight time.

Notification prior to departure Alternative flight lands at the destination Right to compensation
more than 14 days before irrelevant
7 -14 days before no more than 2 hours earlier/4 hours later
7 -14 days before more than 2 hours earlier/4 hours later
less than 7 days before no more than 1 hour earlier/2 hours later
less than 7 days before more than 1 hour earlier/2 hours later

One thing that you are always entitled to if your flight is cancelled is a refund for the full price of your ticket. You can always decide that you no longer want to fly and that instead, you want to cancel your flight and ask for your money back.

amount of the compensation depends on the total distance of the flight

Flights that are brought forward

If your flight is brought forward, this is considered to be the same as cancellation and you are again entitled to claim compensation. This is subject to the proviso that the flight is brought forward by several hours. This is because, as the German Federal High Court of Justice ruled, an airline’s decision to bring a flight forward considerably means that it abandoned its original plans and essentially cancelled the original flight (judgment of 9 June 2015,case ref.: X ZR59/14).

How do I apply for compensation if my flight is cancelled?

It’s not always easy for air passengers to find out whether they are entitled to compensation. That’s why we’re here to help. Our legal expertise in air passenger rights means that we can closely examine whether the Air Passenger Rights Regulation applies and enforce your rights for you - no matter how much opposition we come up against from the airline. You can use our convenient initial consultation service online free of charge.Simply enter your flight details into our compensation calculator and it will only take a few minutes for you to find out whether you are entitled to compensation. If you use our service, you are in good company: more than 200,000,000 customers have already opted for Flightright.

Check your claim in 2 minutes

If you are eligible for compensation, you can instruct us to start asserting your rights at the touch of a button. With us by your side, you have a much better chance of getting compensation than you would have if you were acting alone. All too often, airlines ignore the requests and enquiries made by individual passengers and play them down. We have been successfully enforcing passenger rights for years now and know how to interact with the airlines on an equal footing. We put pressure on the airlines, know the right arguments to use and won’t shy away from taking your case to court if need be. Our success rate in court cases proves us right: we emerge as the winner in 98% of cases.

Why is it so difficult to get what I am legitimately entitled to?

Many airlines ignore passengers’ e-mails and phone calls or attempt to placate them with standard letters - they keep doing this until the passengers are so exhausted and exasperated that they give up. Or they try to fob passengers off with cheap vouchers, suggesting that this is all they are entitled to. Many passengers believe what the airline tells them. The airlines are banking on their passengers not knowing all the facts. Without the legal expertise required, it tends to be difficult for passengers to get anywhere with the airlines. Flightright knows the airlines’ excuses and tricks not to pay compensations. We want to use our knowledge and legal expertise to help air passengers get what they are entitled to.

We handle the communication with the airline for you, and consistently keep you updated on any new information we receive. We are prepared to go to court with your case, while bearing all of the associated costs. If we win, you receive your entitled compensation, and we receive a commission of 25%(plus VAT).

Tip: How to improve your chances of getting compensation

  • Get the airline staff to provide you with written confirmation of the cancellation. This should include the name and signature of the airline employee, the place, date and time, and the reason for the cancellation. The airlines usually have pre-printed forms available for situations like these.
  • Take photos and collect any receipts for food, drinks, taxis or hotel accommodation.
  • If you take an alternative flight, you can take a photo showing the time you landed. This also proves how much later you arrived at your destination than planned.

All of this information will help us process your claim faster to get you the compensation you're entitled to.

On a business trip? You are the one entitled to the compensation, not your boss

It is passengers themselves, not their employers, that are entitled to compensation for flight delays during business trips. The EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation (Regulation 261/2004/EC) states that the compensation of up to EUR 600 goes to the person who actually suffered the inconvenience; not the person who paid for the ticket. It doesn’t matter whether you’re an employee of a private-sector company or a public official.

We are happy to help if your business trip flight has been cancelled. The process couldn’t be more straightforward: In order to assert your claim to compensation with Flightright, you only need to give us five minutes of your time and make sure that you have your flight number and date of travel to hand. It goes without saying that you are entitled to compensation from the airline responsible if your flight is delayed, too.

flight cancellation during a business trip

When is a flight cancellation due to “extraordinary circumstances”?

Extraordinary circumstances are factors that affect a flight schedule that are out of the airline's control. This negates the airline from paying any compensation to their passengers. If these extraordinary circumstances arise, then the airlines are not obliged to pay compensation to passengers.

Examples of extraordinary circumstances include:

  • The airport or airspace is closed
  • Political instability/security risks that cannot be avoided
  • Strikes
  • Bird strike
  • Bad weather such as fog, hail, storms and heavy snow

Exception to the rule: During the winter months, if an airline hasn't taken precautionary measures to acquire de-icing supplies they may be required to pay compensation to their passengers. Unfortunately this is difficult to prove if you are not an expert. As legal experts, on the other hand, we can conduct a precise assessment, access specialised flight databases containing hundreds of thousands of flight movements and weather data and submit watertight evidence to the court showing that the airline is responsible for the delay.

Our tip: Make sure you arrive at the check-in desk on time nonetheless

Even if your flight is cancelled on short notice, make sure you arrive at the check-in desk on time - even if you find out that your flight is going to be cancelled just before you set off for the airport. This is because the airline might be able to offer you an alternative flight more quickly than you think. If you are not at the departure gate on time, you will lose your entitlement to the flight. Even if passengers are faced with long waiting periods, they should not leave the gate area in case they miss information on flight handling changes made at short notice.

Passenger rights in the form of meals and refreshments

Regardless of the circumstance, passengers are entitled to vouchers for meals and refreshments when their flight is delayed or cancelled. This applies irrespective of whether the airline is responsible for the delayed take-off or not.

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

  • If your flight is cancelled, 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
  • You can be entitled to compensation if you found out about the cancellation less than 14 days before departure
  • The compensation ranges from EUR 250 to EUR 600 per person
  • If you don’t find out about the flight cancellation until you are at the airport, then you are also entitled to refreshments or snacks
  • VYour rights are based on the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation 261/2004
  • Your entitlement to compensation also applies to package holidays
  • Extraordinary circumstances like strikes or bad weather release the airlines from their obligation to pay compensation
Check your claim in 2 minutes
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