12.08.2019

How to claim flight compensation on your own

Flight delays and flight cancellations happen every day.

So, even if you aren’t a frequent traveller, sooner or later you are going to experience it yourself. However, the good news is that if you’re flying to or from Europe, mostly you are under the EU's protection. In Europe you always have the right to care. Often you can also get a flight compensation.

How to claim flight compensation?

You can do it on your own, or you can let us to be your legal representative. In the latter case, all you will have to do is fill in a single form on our website.

Check your compensation online!

Or continue reading to learn more about your rights.

Airplane at the airport

How to claim flight compensation on your own

1. What are your rights

What are the rules?

Under the EU Regulation 261/2004, you are entitled to flight compensation up to €600 if because of the airline’s fault:

  • Your flight is cancelled, and you’re notified less than 14 days in advance;
  • Your flight is delayed for 3+ hours;
  • You have been denied boarding because of over-booking.

If you are flying with a European airline, these rules apply to all flights to and from the EU. If you are flying with non-EU airlines, this applies only to flights from the EU.

Flight compensation - Basics

You don’t have to be a citizen of the European Union to be entitled to EU flight compensation. As a tourist in Europe you have the same rights, when it comes to flight compensations.

The amount of the compensation in the EU is fixed.

Mostly this is what you can expect:

€250 - if the distance of your flight is up to 1500 kilometres (usually 1-2 hour long flights);

€400 - if the distance of your flight is between 1500 and 3500 kilometres;

€600 - if the distance of your flight is more than 3500 kilometres.

Exception:

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.

In most situations you have the right to care.

Learn more:

How much can you claim - Refundor

2. How to claim flight compensation

Contact the airline as soon as possoble.

Even though you can claim flight compensation for flights three years back (in some EU countries the limit is even 6 years), we would recommend you to start the process as soon as possible. You can do it once you get to your destination, or after the vacation.

Do it sooner, so you don’t forget about it.

There are two ways you can claim your compensation.

Hassle-free option would be working with us.

Another option - to try and contact airline on your own.

Main pros of doing it on your own:

  1. it’s cheaper,
  2. you can keep 100% of the compensation amount.

Main cons:

  1. it’s more time consuming and more stressful,
  2. you have to do all on your own,
  3. there is a bigger chance of failure.

Lufthansa airplane at the airport

2.1 How to claim flight compensation on your own

How to claim flight delay compensation on your own?

To claim flight compensation, you should contact your airline.

First of all, find out why your flight was delayed or cancelled.

If you booked a flight from one airline, but that particular flight was operated by another airline, if it was so called codeshare flight, remember that it’s the airline operating the flight, which is responsible. That’s the airline you’ll be claiming your compensation from. Not the airline you bought your flight from.

Go to the website of your airline and look for a claim form.

Some airlines have a special EU flight delay compensation form that can be easily found on their webpage. Others keep these forms well hidden or don’t have them at all. Try to Google, if you can’t find it right away.

If there’s no such form, look for their contact form or email.

If you can’t find a contact form, or e-mail, then do not be put off by it. Try Google search. Type in “contact [airline]”, “[airline] contact form”, “[airline] compensation claim form”, and see what comes up.

File a claim.

After you have found a contact form (or an e-mail address), compose an e-mail. See examples below.

It can take a couple of weeks (or months) before the airline replies.

If the airline refuses to pay the compensation, find out what is the reason.

If you don’t agree with the airline, ask for an explanation.

Google to see if you can find other people, who have been in similar situation like you, who have been compensated. If you can find such examples, mention them in your reply and include relevant links.

Plane flying over the sea

Extraordinary circumstances

One of the most popular reasons why airlines refuse to compensate is “extraordinary circumstances that they couldn’t have prevented”.

What does that mean in this case?

When used correctly “extraordinary circumstances” means something that’s out of the airline's control, like terrorism, political unrest or bad weather. At the same time you should know, that things, like technical problems with the aircraf, mostly aren’t considered extraordinary circumstances.

If you know that your flight was delayed or cancelled because of technical problems, do not back off and demand further attention.

Why is that happening?

Simply because Europe's Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 (EC 261) does not specify what exactly falls under “extraordinary circumstances”. As a result there is a place for interpretation. And as it happens in such situations everyone wants to use it their favour.

You can get a full refund in cash, even if your flight was cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances.

Night flight

Take your claim to National Enforcement Body

If you believe the airline is lying or hiding something, and that you are entitled to compensation after all, contact the regulator.

Make sure to contact the regulator in the country your airline is based in.

There are situations when you can’t get flight compensation. Make sure your situation is not one of these and you are not wasting your time right now.

Ask a lawyer

If it isn’t bringing any results, search for legal advice.

Work with us

If nothing seems to be working, you are tired of back-and-forth communication with the airline, or if you would like to take a shortcut, let’s work together.

Register your claim online at refundor.com. Fill in the details about yourself and your flight. We will do the rest. It takes only a few minutes.

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

Yet another reason, why it's the best way to get flight compensation.

Shops at the airport

2.2 Compensation for the expenses

Stuck in the airport because of delayed or cancelled flight?

If the delay is at least 3 hours, the airline is obliged to provide you with free meal and drink. Mostly it’s provided in form of coupons. If you haven’t heard anything from the airline, you can buy a meal yourself and get a compensation for the expenses.

Depending on the airline you can submit your claim for expenses online or via the e-mail. Make sure you attach all the receipts.

In Europe it's also called the right to care.

3. Flight compensation letter: Template

For a delayed / delayed connecting flight

Dear Sir/Madam,

I want to make a claim for flight delay compensation (€ X), that according to EU regulation 261/2004 I'm entitled to.

My flight from A to B [flight number] was delayed. As a result I missed a connecting flight to C. At the end I made it to C only on the next day.

Date and time:  Booking reference: 

Here are my bank account details:

My name and surname: Bank name: Bank address: IBAN: BIC: 

I attach a copy of the tickets (if there’s such an option!).

Thank you! 

Regards, Your name and surname.

X - amount of compensation you are entitled to; A - origin; B - connecting city; C - your destination.

For a cancelled flight

Dear Sir/Madam,

I want to make a claim for flight cancellation compensation (€ X), that according to EU regulation 261/2004 I'm entitled to.

My flight from A to B [flight number] was cancelled, and I was notified less than 14 days in advance. I was put on the next available flight, and arrived in B x hours later than planned.

Date and time:  Booking reference: 

Here are my bank account details:

My name and surname: Bank name: Bank address: IBAN: BIC: 

I attach a copy of the tickets (if there’s such an option!).

Thank you! 

Regards, Your name and surname.

Calculator - Flight compensation - How much can you claim

4. What do to if your flight gets delayed

If you get to the airport and find out that the flight is delayed, proceed to the checkin counter anyway. If you don’t have hold luggage and travel with a carry on only, and you have been checked in already, head to the security check and go to the gates.

Wait for your flight airside.

From time to time, check your flight status to see if the departure time has not changed.

Even if you’re notified of the delay before you arrive at the airport, you must check in on time (according to your original flight time), unless advised otherwise. It is because the delay might be shorter than expected.

If your flight is delayed for 3 or more hours, often times you will be entitled to a compensation.

But you’ll deal with that after your trip or at your destination.

First of all, you’ll need to find out why has your flight been delayed. If you have received an e-mail about the delay, mostly it will be included in an explanation. If not, ask airline staff why your flight is delayed.

If you are at the airport and if your flight has been delayed for more than 3 hours, the airline must provide you with free meal and drink plus two free phone calls, e-mails or faxes.

A classic watch on mans wrist

If you have a connecting flight to catch, and chances are that you’ll miss your next flight, don’t panic. If you have booked a flight on one booking reference (it’s a connecting flight), and the airline is responsible for the delay, you will be put on the next available flight free of charge.

Remember, that not all connecting flights are the same.

If it's a self transfer flight, it's partly your responsibility.

And also connecting flights with low cost airlines mostly work differently.

If you have indeed missed your connecting flight, and it’s airline’s fault, head to a customer services centre or to an information counter as soon as you land. The staff will tell you what to do next, and which counter or airport customer centre to visit to get booked on another flight.

They also will tell you what to do with your checked baggage.

Either to collect it or leave it with them.

New boarding passes can be issued either at check in counters or airline customer service counters.

If there’s no available flights on the same day, the airline will put you on the next available flight on the next day. Then the airline must provide you with a hotel for the night and meals. Also transport to and from the airport must be provided.

If you have checked luggage notify the staff, so it can be transferred to the next available flight (the same flight you will be on).

See our 5-step guide: What to do if your flight is delayed?

Hong Kong Airport

5. What do to if your flight gets cancelled

Actions will be very similar to those stated above.

If you are at the airport, wait for the following announcement.

If you can, connect to the internet to check your email. Even though it’s highly unlikely to happen that fast, there is probably an email from the airline describing the situation already waiting for you.

Wait for the announcement from the airline, if you haven’t received it yet.

They will offer you a choice of another flight (or several) to your destination with them or with another airline or refund. Choose what suits you the best. Make into account other travel plans that you might have.

If you have a connecting flight, don’t worry, the airline will put you on the next available flight to your destination.

If you will have to wait for more than 3 hours until the next flight, then the airline must provide you with free meal and drink plus two free phone calls, e-mails or faxes.

If there’s no available flights, the airline will book you a seat on the next day's flight. In this case the airline should provide you with free accommodation, meals and transport from and to the airport.

Entering hotel room

If any of this is not provided, pay for it and save receipts.

When claiming flight compensation, you also can ask for a compensation for the expenses.

See our 5-step guide: What to do if your flight is cancelled?


Remember - whenever your flight is delayed, cancelled or you've been denied boarding - you might be entitled to flight compensation. Contact us to get it sorted out right away!