EC 261/2004: What is EU Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004?

EC 261/2004 is a law in the European Union.

It’s commonly called EU Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004.

To put it simply, it’s a set of rules created to protect air passenger rights in the EU and not only. Because while it’s a EU regulation in some cases it does work also outside of the EU, you don’t have to be European to be protected by it and in some situations it applies also to flights operated by non-EU airlines.

It’s created to protect your rights whenever you fly.

Let’s go more into details.

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EU regulation 261/2004 - EC 261/2004

The EC 261/2004 is a long document, as most of legal documents are.

But generally speaking it’s simply answers the question, what happens if there’s a problem with your flight, what are your rights and what are your airline’s responsibilieties.

It’s mostly about these few things:

The EC regulation 261/2004 is all about your rights.

It explains in what situations you can get a compensation, and in what situations you can’t. It clearly defines what are the airline's responsibilities when it comes to unplanned delays, when you have to wait at the airport. And it also gives very clear guidelines regarding the amount of compensation — when flight compensation is due.

Here's the regulation.

And here are the interpretative guidelines.

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So, what are your rights according to EC 261/2004?

There are a few situations when you can get compensation.

If it’s your airline’s fault, compensation has to be paid when:

  1. your flight is delayed for more than 3 hours,
  2. your flight is cancelled less than 14 days before planned departure,
  3. you've been denied boarding because there are no more free seats;
  4. you’re downgraded.

Speaking of the first 3, compensation amounts are fixed - 250, 400 and 600 euro per person. Depending on the distance of the flight. There are a few exceptions, but that’s what you’ll be getting in by far most situations.

Here’s how you can calculate the amount of compensation:

€250 - if 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.

When it comes to downgrades - 30 to 75% of the price of the ticket.

The compensation has to be paid in cash, not coupons.

The rules are the same for all airlines operating in Europe, and they are the same for everyone. No matter the age, nationality, airline, price of the ticket or travel insurance. Your under 2 years old can receive full flight compensation, too.

In order to be eligible to compensation:

  • You should be flying to or from the EU,
  • If you are flying from a country outside the EU, your flight should be operated by a EU airline,
  • It must be the airline's fault.

The same applies to charter airlines and charter flights.

In many situations it applies also to flights with non-EU airlines.

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Assistance from the airline

The regulation isn’t only about compensations.

It also defines what are the situations when your airline is obliged to provide you with assistance, and what kind of assistance it must be. Just like with the compensation, the guidelines are specific. In the EU you have the right to care.

According to the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, Article 9, if you have to wait at the airport for 2-3 hours because of the delayed/ cancelled flight, the airline must offer you:

free meals and drinks in a reasonable relation to the waiting time, free hotel accommodation if a stay of one or more nights is necessary, two free phone calls, e-mails or faxes.

There are exceptions, but mostly you’ll be getting your first free meal if you have to wait 2-3 hours. Mostly it’s gonna be in form of coupons, that you can exchange at the airport cafes, shops or restaurants. Contact your airline if nothing is being handed out.

You can also buy a meal yourself.

Save the receipts in this case, and request a refund from the airline later.

Where does the EU 261/2004 regulation works?

The regulation works in Europe.

And this case when we are mentioning Europe and EU we mean all EU Member States, the United Kingdom (UK), Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, Saint Martin, the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland.

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How can you get flight compensation?

How to get the money?

The most important thing is to file a claim (to ask for the money).

Because, unfourtunately, but if you do nothing, you’ll get nothing.

You can do it all on your own, or you can let us to do in on your behalf.

If we can’t get your compensation, it will cost you nothing. No win, no fees.

Check your compensation online!