EU Regulation 261/2004: Know Your Rights

The EU regulation on flight disruptions was passed in 2004 to protect passengers against flight disruptions. This applies in cases of flight delays, flight cancellations, missed connecting flights, and denied boarding. However, many people are still not aware of their rights or how to exercise them when faced with such situations.

What is the EU 261 Regulation About?

The EU Regulation 261/2004 applies to flights departing from an EU airport or arriving in one, with its headquarters in the EU.

Under this law, you may be entitled to compensation ranging from €250 to €600 based on the distance. Short distance below 1500km attracts €250 compensation, Medium distance between 1500km and 3500km attracts €400 compensation, while Long distance over 3500km attracts €600 compensation.

You may also be entitled to ticket refunds and flight rescheduling in cases of cancellations. In addition, you have rights to assistance and care, which includes free food, drinks, and hotel accommodation where necessary.

As an air passenger, you have the right to be fully informed of your rights by the airline. This includes warnings at the time of invoicing, written notices when there’s a delay, and updated information on their website.

Who is Eligible for this Flight Compensation?

As enticing as it is to get compensated for flight disruptions, it doesn’t apply to everyone. To be eligible for compensation under the EU 261 law, you must have:

  1. A valid ticket and booking confirmation.
  2. Started your trip at an EU airport, or landed in an EU airport, provided that the airline is headquartered in the EU.
  3. Gotten to the airport early enough, which is usually 45 minutes before boarding.
  4. Arrived at your final destination at least 3 hours late, if you were delayed.
  5. Been informed of the cancellation less than 14 days before departure.
  6. Been denied boarding due to an overbooked flight and inability to get a seat on board.

How Do You Claim Your Compensation?

After confirming that you are eligible for compensation under the EU 261 regulation, you can go ahead and begin the process.

Start by gathering all relevant documents, from your booking information and tickets to receipts of expenses that you may have incurred due to the flight disruption.

You also need to contact the airline to find out the reason for the disruption and get them to put it in writing. If the reason is within the airline’s control, you are entitled to compensation. Include this detail in your documents and prepare to submit everything to the airline.

Contact the airline help desk on how to go about this, or check their website for a form you can fill. You can also make this process seamless by contacting an agency like Flightright to get the work done for you.

Bottom Line

No one ever wants to deal with a flight delay or cancellation, especially when you’ve already had your itinerary planned out. However, it does happen. While you may be frustrated, you can still benefit from it by applying for compensation, and can do this for flights operated in the last six years.