23.09.2019

I’m not a European. Can I claim European flight delay compensation?

The short answer is - yes, you can! Because the rules in Europe are the same for everyone, whether you are a EU citizen or you are just a tourist travelling to Europe. If your European flight gets heavily delayed, and you arrive to your destination at least 3 hours later than planned, often you’ll be entitled to European flight delay compensation. No matter your citizenship.

There are a few exceptions, as with everything. And sometimes it’s important that it’s a European airline you are flying with. Continue reading and we’ll guide you through these laws.

If you prefer to do your own research, check the EU Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. It’s a set of rules which specifies in which cases passengers are entitled to compensation.

Adults with approval signs

Your flight was delayed. What are your rights?

1. Situations when you can/can’t get compensation

First of all, why do flights get delayed?

Here are some of the most common reasons why flights get delayed:

  • Weather,
  • Late arriving aircraft,
  • Staff strikes,
  • Mechanical problems,
  • Airport congestion,
  • Waiting for connecting passengers and their luggage,
  • Waiting for cargo and / or loading cargo.

Let’s agree on this one - some of these situations are within your airline’s control, while others aren’t. No airline in the world can control the weather. Not yet. Also, if there is an airport staff strike, operations of the airport are paralysed or slowed down, and your flight gets heavily delayed or cancelled because of that - mostly you’ll not be entitled to EU flight compensation. Having a good travel insurance may help, though.

Everything that’s outside the airline’s control is considered extraordinary circumstances. And in these situations you can’t get compensation.

And then there are situations when **you can get compensated. **

For example, if there is a technical problem with the aircraft. That’s something your airline has to take care of. If they haven’t, and your flight gets delayed for 3+ hours or cancelled, you’ll be entitled to compensation.

The main takeaway - first find out why was your flight delayed! And you’ll know whether you are or aren’t entitled to compensation.

Airport flight information screens

2. European flight compensation: Basics

In Europe you are protected not only against flight delays.

Here are four of the most popular situations when you can get compensation:

  • Your flight is heavily delayed. If you arrive 3+ hours late, it counts as a heavy delay.
  • Your flight is cancelled last minute. If you are informed of the cancellation less than 14 days before the date of the travel, that’s considered as a last minute cancellation.
  • Your flight is overbooked. And you are denied boarding because of that.
  • You are downgraded. You bought a business class ticket, but there are no more free seats in the business class, and now you have to fly in Economy.

In all of these situations it’s important that it’s the airlines fault.

How much can you claim - Refundor

3. The amount of flight compensation

The exact amount of flight compensation varies and is based on the distance of your flight, and occasionally some other factors. However, it’s not affected by the ticket price or airline you are flying with. The rules are the same also with charter airlines.

So, how much exactly is your claim worth?

Mostly in Europe the answer will be one of these: €250, €400 or €600.

Here is how you can calculate it.

  • €250 - of the distance of your flight is up to 1500 kilometres.
  • €400 - if the distance of your flight is between 1500 - 3500 kilometres.
  • €600 - if the distance of your flight is more than 3500 kilometres.

There’s an exception, though. In case when the distance of your flight is 3500 kilometres or more and you reach your destination with a delay between 3 - 4 hours, you are entitled to compensation of €300.

Remember - you don’t have to accept coupons or vouchers, unless you want them not money.

Delta airline - non-EU airlines passenger rights

4. European and non-European airlines

Was your flight with Air France or, for example, American Airlines?

Why it matters? If you are flying with a European airline, these rules apply to flights both from and to Europe. If you are flying with a non-European airline, like American Airlines or Delta, these rules apply only to their flights from Europe.

See, Air France is a European airline. And when you fly with Air France from New York to Paris, you can get €600 compensation, if your flight is heavily delayed, cancelled last minute or overbooked. You don’t have to be European to be entitled to it. Your citizenship doesn’t matter either. Same as your travel insurance.

But if it would be a flight operated by American Airlines, you wouldn’t be entitled to the same EU compensation.

Entering hotel room

5. Right to care

In Europe you are protected. Also if you are just a tourist.

Yes, there are situations when you can’t get compensation in cash. But overall when travelling to and from Europe you are well protected by EU regulations and laws. And, if something goes wrong, you always have a right to care. Even that something is out of the airline’s control.

Your airline must take care of you.

First of all, your airline have an obligation to take you to your destination or to give you a full refund.

But that’s not all.

If there is a strike or weather is very bad here is what your airline should provide you with:

  • If you’ll have to wait 3+ hours. A free meal and drink, plus two free phone calls, e-mails or faxes. Mostly in form of coupons.
  • If you’ll have to wait overnight. Apart from the above mentioned, a free hotel room and transportation to and from it should be provided.

No matter the circumstances.

This applies to all flights operated by European airlines (to, from, within Europe). If it’s a non-European airline, then it applies to all its flights departing from Europe.

Airplane seats

6. Flight + free food + free accommodation + compensation

Everyone has a right to care.

As long as the flight falls under the above mentioned EU regulation, all its passengers have a right to care. So, in some situations you may be receiving all of that. You may be given a new flight, because your original flight is cancelled. You may receive free food and free accommodation, because you have to wait overnight.

And you may as well receive full flight compensation.

There is a common myth, that if you take free accommodation and food, it will make it harder for you to receive the compensation. Or that it's gonna be smaller. It’s a myth.

A man working on a laptop

Claiming compensation for a delayed or cancelled flight

Ok, but how to get that money?

How to claim flight compensation?

First things first, to get the compensation, you should ask for it. If you do nothing. If you don’t file a compensation claim. Then you’ll get nothing. Airlines know that most of travellers aren’t informed about their rights. They know that tourists don’t know the EU laws.

One of the options is to contact the airline directly. 

Some airlines have claim form on their website. Try to find it. If you can’t, use the contact form. Submit all the information they are asking for and wait. Be prepared, that it will take a while. Mostly a month or two until you hear back from them.

Or, you can take a shortcut and let us to do it on your behalf.

  1. Go to this page on our website;
  2. Fill in the details about yourself and your flight;
  3. Upload your boarding pass;
  4. Sign the claim online.

And that’s it. We’ll do the rest. When we finish the job, you’ll just have to tell us your bank account details and we’ll make the money transfer. Deal?

We work under a no win, no fee agreement. It will cost you nothing, if we're unable to collect your compensation for some reason. No win, no fees. If we are successful, however, we’ll take €25 + 25% of the amount of the compensation and transfer you the rest.

Let’s work together?