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Updated : 14/11/2016

Air passenger rights

When you travel by air in the EU you have certain guaranteed rights which apply even before your trip begins:

  • When you buy your ticket, you have the right to equal access to air fares without any discrimination based on your nationality or your place of residence. This also applies if you purchase your flight ticket on-line.
  • From the beginning of the booking process all taxes, fees and charges must be included and appear in the total price. This makes it easier to compare prices with other airlines so you can make an informed choice. 

Any optional supplements (such as travel insurance) must be clearly indicated as such and suggested on an opt-in basis only. You can report a case of unclear on-line pricing to the national authorities in your country of residence in the EU.

Your rights in case of denied boarding, delay, cancellation, and upgrading or downgrading

If you're denied boarding, your flight is delayed, cancelled or if you are placed in a higher or lower class than the one which is mentioned on your ticket, you have certain rights when departing from any airport in the EU with any airline, or arriving in the EU with an EU airline or an airline from Iceland, Norway, or Switzerland.

In all these situations your airline has a duty to inform you of your rights which may vary according to your specific situation.

Delays from 2 hours and up to 5 hours or more

If your flight is delayed for 2 hours at departure you're entitled to assistance (drinks, meals, communications) and, if necessary, hotel accommodation (including transport between the airport and the place of accommodation) depending on the flight distance and length of delay.

If your flight is delayed by 5 hours or more at departure you're entitled to a refund. If you accept this option, the airline doesn't have to provide any further onward travel or assistance.

If your flight is delayed and arrives 3 or more hours late at your final destination, in addition to assistance you're also entitled to financial compensation (see below).

Compensation for delays according to flight distance

Delay at arrival Flight distance Compensation
Within the EU
3 hours or more 1 500 km or less EUR 250
  Over 1 500 km EUR 400
Between an EU airport and a non-EU airport
3 hours or more 1 500 km or less EUR 250
  1 500 km - 3 500 km EUR 400
  Over 3 500 km EUR 600

Cancellation or denied boarding

If your flight is cancelled, and you were informed less than 2 weeks prior to the scheduled date or you're denied boarding you're entitled to:

  • Transport to your final destination using comparable alternative transport means or
  • A refund for your ticket or
  • Transport free of charge to your initial departure point if you have connecting flights, and
  • Financial compensation of EUR 250 to EUR 600 depending on the distance of your flight. If the carrier offers you an alternative flight, and you reach your final destination with a delay of 2, 3 or 4 hours depending on the length of the flight, the compensation may be reduced by 50% (see below).

In cases of re-routing, you are also entitled to care (drinks, meals, communications) and, if necessary, hotel accommodation (including transfer) depending on the length of the delay.

Compensation for cancellation or denied boarding in cases of re-routing

Delay at arrival Flight distance Compensation
Within the EU
2 hours 1 500 km or less EUR 125
3 hours Over 1 500 km EUR 200
Between an EU airport and a non-EU airport
3 hours 1 500 km - 3 500 km EUR 200
4 hours Over 3 500 km EUR 300

Upgrading or downgrading

If you are placed in a higher class than the one which is mentioned on your ticket (upgrading), an air carrier cannot request any additional payment.

If you are placed in a lower class (downgrading), you are entitled to reimbursement of a percentage of 30%, 50% or 75% of the price of your ticket, depending on the flight distance.

Where there are two or more connecting flights included in a single ticket, reimbursement is only payable for the flight which was downgraded and not for the entire journey.

Your rights in extraordinary circumstances

If your flight is cancelled due to "extraordinary circumstances", such as bad weather or an air traffic controller strike, no financial compensation will be paid by the airline. However, your airline must provide adequate assistance while you are waiting for alternative transport.  You are also entitled to:

  • A refund of your ticket within 7 days or
  • Alternative transport to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or
  • Rebooking at a later date of your choice or
  • Transport to and from the airport, if the flight arrives or departs from a different airport than the one mentioned in the booking

How to complain / means of redress

Flights departing from the EU

If you were denied boarding, or your flight was delayed or cancelled and you consider your EU air passenger rights were not respected, you can submit a complaint to the airline concerned.  You can do so using the air passenger rights EU complaint form . Make sure you keep a copy for your own records.

You should normallly receive a reply from the airline within 2 months. If you don't or if you aren't satisfied with the reply, you may contact the national authorities in the EU country where the incident took place.

For financial redress, provided that the airline is established in the EU and participates in the Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme (ADR), you can submit a complaint to an ADR entity.  If you bought your ticket online you can submit your complaint via the Online Dispute Resolution platform

Flights arriving to the EU (operated by an EU airline)

If the incident happened at an airport outside the EU, but involved an EU airline, you can send a complaint to the national authority in the first EU country you enter.

Lost, damaged or delayed luggage

Checked-in luggage

If your checked-in luggage is lost, damaged or delayed, the airline is liable and you're entitled to compensation up to an amount of approximately EUR 1 220.  However, if the damage was caused by an inherent defect in the baggage itself, you're not entitled to any compensation.

Hand luggage

If your hand luggage is damaged the airline is liable if it was responsible for the damage.

Travel insurance

If you're travelling with expensive items, you may, for a fee, request a higher compensation limit (in excess of EUR 1 220). To do this, you should make an advance declaration to the airline at the latest when you check in.  However, to ensure you have sufficient coverage, it's advisable to take out private travel insurance.

How to complain

If you want to file a claim for lost or damaged luggage, you should do it in writing to the airline within 7 days, or within 21 days of receiving your luggage if it was delayed. There is no standard EU-wide form.

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