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Updated : 28/08/2017

Air passenger rights

Check if EU air passenger rights apply in your case

  • If your flight is within the EU and is operated either by an EU or a non-EU airline
  • If your flight arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline
  • If your flight departs from the EU to a non-EU country operated by an EU or a non-EU airline

EU means the 28 EU countries , including Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion Island, Mayotte, Saint-Martin (French Antilles), the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland

  • If you take a flight which arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an non-EU airline
  • If you have already received benefits (compensation, re-routing, assistance) for flight related problems under the relevant law of a non-EU country

EU excludes the Faeroe Islands, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands

YES, Check your rights
Check your rights
NO, You don't have any rights
You don't have rights

Both the outbound and return flights are considered as two separate flights even if they were booked as part of one reservation.

In some cases the airline operating the flight may not be the same as the one from which you bought your ticket. In case of any difficulties only the airline which operates the flight can be held responsible.

As a matter of course, a printed or electronic notice informing you of your EU air passenger rights must be clearly displayed at the airport check-in desk. This information must also be shown at check-in kiosks in the airport and on-line. If you were denied boarding, your flight was cancelled, you experienced a delay of more than 2 hours at departure or you arrive with a long delay at your final destination, the operating air carrier must give you a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance.

Denied boarding

You may be denied boarding:

  • For safety, security or health reasons or if you don't have the correct travel documents
  • If you didn't take the outbound flight of a reservation which included a return flight
  • If you didn't take the other flight(s) included in a reservation with consecutive flights
  • If you don't have the relevant documentation for your pet when it is travelling with you

If you have presented yourself on time for the check-in with a valid flight reservation and travel documentation and you're denied boarding due to overbooking or for operational reasons, and you don't voluntarily give up your seat, you are entitled to:

Cancellation

Cancellation occurs when:

  • your original flight schedule is abandoned and you are transferred to another scheduled flight
  • the aircraft took off but, was forced to return to the airport of departure and you were transferred to another flight
  • your flight arrives at an airport which is not the final destination indicated on your ticket, unless:
    • You accepted re-routing (under comparable transport conditions at the earliest opportunity) to the airport of your original final destination or to any other destination agreed by you. In this case it is considered as a delay and not a cancellation.
    • The airport of arrival and the airport of the original final destination serve the same town, city or region. In this case it is considered as a delay and not a cancellation.

If your flight is cancelled you have the right to reimbursement, re-routing or return, as well as the right to assistance and a right to compensation. Compensation is due if you were informed less than 14 days prior to the scheduled departure date. The air carrier has the obligation to prove if and when you were personally informed that the flight was cancelled. If this is not the case you can contact your national authority[222 KB]for further assistance.

However, compensation is not due if the carrier can prove that the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

Delay

If your flight is delayed at departure, you have the right to assistance, to reimbursement and a return flight, depending on the duration of the delay and the distance of the flight.

If you arrived at your final destination with a delay of more than 3 hours, you are entitled to compensation, unless the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances.

Upgrading or downgrading

If you are upgraded, the airline can't request any additional payment.

If you are downgraded, you are entitled to reimbursement of a percentage of the price of your ticket, depending on the flight distance as follows:

a) 30% - flights of 1 500 km or less

b) 50% - flights within the EU of more than 1 500 km (except flights between the EU and French overseas departments), and all other flights between 1 500 and 3 500 km

c) 75% - flights not falling under (a) or (b), including flights between the EU and French overseas departments.

If you have 2 or more connecting flights included in a single ticket, you can only be reimbursed for the flight which was downgraded and not for the entire journey. The reimbursement should be paid within 7 days.

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.

Compensation - denied boarding, cancellation, delay at arrival

Amount in EUR

Distance

250

1 500 km or less

400

More than 1 500 km within the EU and all other flights between 1 500 and 3 500 km

600

More than 3 500 km

If the air carrier has offered you re-routing and you reach your final destination with a delay of 2, 3 or 4 hours the compensation may be reduced by 50%.

Compensation - denied boarding

You should always receive compensation if you're denied boarding.

Connecting flight – one reservation with a single check-in

If you are denied boarding for your flight because the air carrier operating the connecting flight deemed that you would arrive too late to board this flight (as your first flight was delayed) compensation is due.

Connecting flight – separate reservations

If you have two separate tickets for two consecutive flights and the first flight is delayed, meaning that you are unable to check in on time for the next flight, air carriers are not obliged to pay compensation. However, if your first flight is delayed for more than three hours, you may be entitled to compensation from the carrier which operated the first flight.

Compensation - cancellation

If your flight is cancelled you're not entitled to compensation:

  • if you are informed more than 14 days in advance
  • if you are informed between 2 weeks and 7 days before the scheduled departure and you are offered re-routing which would allow you:
    • to depart no more than 2 hours before the original scheduled time of departure and
    • to reach your final destination less than 4 hours after the original scheduled time of arrival
  • if you are informed less than 7 days before the scheduled departure and are offered re-routing which would allow you:
    • to depart no more than 1 hour before the original scheduled time of departure and
    • to reach your final destination less than 2 hours after the original scheduled time of arrival.

You are not entitled to compensation in case of extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

Compensation- delay

  • If you reach your final destination with a delay of 3 hours or more you are entitled to compensation if the delay is not caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
  • If you miss a connecting flight travelling within the EU or outside the EU on a flight originating from an EU country, you should be entitled to compensation, if you arrive at your final destination with a delay of more than 3 hours. It is not relevant if the carrier operating the connecting flights is an EU or non-EU carrier.
  • If you depart from a non-EU country to your final destination in an EU country, with connecting flights operated successively by non-EU and EU carriers or by EU carriers only, only the flights operated by EU carriers are taken into consideration for the right to compensation in case of a long delay on arrival at the final destination.
  • You are not entitled to compensation if you miss connecting flights due to delays at security checks or if you did not respect the boarding time of your flight at the airport of transfer.
  • If you accept a flight to a different airport from the one in the original booking and it arrives late, you're entitled to compensation. The time of arrival used for calculating the delay is the time of arrival at the airport mentioned in the original booking or the destination agreed upon with the air carrier. Transport costs between the alternative airport and the one in the original booking or agreed destination should be borne by the operating air carrier.
  • If the air carrier offers you re-routing and you reach your final destination with a delay of 2, 3 or 4 hours, your compensation may be reduced by 50%.

Assistance in the event of denied boarding, cancellation or delay at departure

Airlines should offer you and provide assistance free of charge while you wait. In the event of travel disruption, you should make yourself known to the operating air carrier, to avoid a situation where you have to make your own arrangements. Operating air carriers should also ensure, where available, that accommodation is accessible for people with disabilities and their service dogs. The assistance to be provided includes:

  • Refreshments
  • Food
  • Accommodation (if you are rebooked to travel the next day)
  • Transport to your accommodation and return to the airport
  • 2 telephone calls, telex, fax messages or emails

If assistance is not offered and you paid for your own meals and refreshments etc., the air carrier should reimburse you, provided the expenses were necessary, reasonable and appropriate. You should keep all receipts for this purpose. You only have the right to assistance as long as you have to wait for re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or a return flight.

In exceptional cases, the airline may decide to limit or decline assistance if it would cause further delay to passengers waiting for an alternative or a delayed flight.

Reimbursement, re-routing or rebooking in the event of denied boarding or cancellation

The air carrier must offer you, on a one off basis, a choice between:

  • the reimbursement of your ticket and, if you have a connecting flight, a return flight to the airport of departure at the earliest opportunity
  • re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or,
  • re-routing at a later date at your convenience under comparable transport conditions, subject to the availability of seats.

As soon as you have chosen one of these three options, you no longer have rights in relation to the other two options. However, the air carrier may still have to provide compensation.

  • If the air carrier does not comply with its obligation to offer re-routing or return under comparable transport conditions at the earliest opportunity, it has to reimburse your flight costs.
  • If the air carrier does not offer you the choice between reimbursement and re-routing but decides unilaterally to reimburse your original ticket, you are entitled to an additional reimbursement of the price difference with the new ticket (under comparable transport conditions).
  • If you booked an outbound and a return flight separately with different air carriers and the outbound flight is cancelled, reimbursement is only due for the cancelled flight.

However, if the outbound and return flights are operated by different air carriers, but were part of a single reservation, in the event that the outbound flight was cancelled, you have the following rights:

  • Compensation
  • A choice between i) the reimbursement of your entire ticket (outbound and return flights) or ii) re-routing on another flight for the outbound flight

Extraordinary circumstances - Cancellation

Extraordinary circumstances can lead to more than one cancellation or delay at the final destination. Examples of events defined as extraordinary circumstances are air traffic management decisions, political instability, adverse weather conditions and security risks.

Situations which are not considered as extraordinary circumstances include:

  • most technical problems which come to light during aircraft maintenance or are caused by failure to maintain an aircraft
  • collision of mobile boarding stairs with an aircraft

If an air carrier invokes extraordinary circumstances the reasons must be clearly explained. If you are not provided with a satisfaction explanation you can contact your national authority[222 KB]for further assistance.

Extraordinary circumstances - Delay

Extraordinary circumstances can lead to more than one cancellation or delay at the final destination. Examples of events defined as extraordinary circumstances are air traffic management decisions, political instability, adverse weather conditions and security risks.

Situations which are not considered as extraordinary circumstances include:

  • most technical problems which come to light during aircraft maintenance or are caused by failure to maintain an aircraft
  • collision of mobile boarding stairs with an aircraft

If an air carrier invokes extraordinary circumstances the reasons must be clearly explained. An air carrier does not have to pay compensation in the event of cancellation or delay at arrival if it can prove that the cancellation or delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

Claim your rights

Step 1 : Complain to the air carrier

You should first send your complaint to the air carrier using the EU-wide air passenger rights complaint form[119 KB]

Step 2 : Complain to national authorities

If you don't receive a reply from the air carrier and you consider that your EU air passenger rights were not respected, you can make a complaint to the relevant national authority[222 KB]in the country where the incident took place, within a reasonable time-frame.

Step 3 : Use Alternative Dispute Resolution Entities (ADRs)

If you are not satisfied with the response given by the airline, and the air carrier is established in the EU you can submit your dispute to an alternative dispute resolution entity . If you bought your ticket online, you can submit your complaint via the Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform .

ADR and ODR are only open to EU residents.

Step 4 : Going to court

For flights between EU countries (operated by a single air carrier) you may submit a claim for compensation under EU rules to the national court either at the place of arrival or departure. You may also bring the matter before the courts in the country where the air carrier is registered.

The time limits for bringing an action against an air carrier in a national court are defined in accordance with national rules on the limitation of actions in each EU country.

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