Air Passenger Rights

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Air Passenger Rights

Read our guide for those wanting to know their rights when travelling on a plane. This guide is complete with FAQ’s, tips to help you know your rights and regulations in the EU and US.

What are Air Passenger Rights?

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Air passenger rights are regulations that protect the rights of passenger(s) in the event of a flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding.

Every year, about 500 million people face flight delays and cancellations and 30 million of them have the right to get compensation. See the following guides for more information on flight delays or tarmac delays.

Tips in the event of flight disruption

1. Be cautious with alternatively accepting vouchers. These are often difficult to trade and validated for certain time. It may also reduce your rights to compensation.

2. Note down all of the information about your flight experience and request a written statement from the airline.

3. Retain and keep safe all documents, receipts and tickets in the event of costs due to problems with your baggage.

4. Speak to you your travel agent or insurance and ask for help and also ask for help from the airline when you return.

5. Overall, remember to always stay calm and try to enjoy your journey.

US Law Air Passenger Rights

While US regulations don’t protect air passenger rights the same way as Europe does, passengers are still protected against some disruptions that happen on domestic flights in the US. US laws are, however, are beneficial to travellers who are denied boarding or experienced baggage problems and can receive even higher compensation than those in Europe. However, the rules are slightly different.

It depends on the type of disruption. US regulations cover:

  • Flights leaving from or flying to a US airport for tarmac delays
  • Domestic flights (from one US city to another) operated by US airlines for baggage problems
  • Domestic flights and flights leaving from the US operated by US airlines for denied boarding

The amount of the compensation that you are entitled to in case of boarding denial depends on the following:

  • Whether your flight was an international flight or a US domestic flight.
  • The arrival time at your destination (if you accept to be re-routed). Passengers who decide to make their own arrangement are compensated with the full refund of their ticket, called “involuntary refund”.
  • The price of your ticket.

EU Air Passenger Rights

The rights to airline passengers are portrayed in numerous regulations. In febrero 2004, a European Regulation came into being in order to protect the rights of an airline passenger, Regulation 261/2004 protects the rights of passengers and Regulation 889/2002 ensures that air passengers can claim compensation from the airlines in the event of a loss, destruction, damage or delay of baggage.

In case of flight delays or cancellations you are entitled to care such as meals, beverages, telephone calls and if necessary accommodation with the transfer.

In the following situations, you may be entitled to compensation as an airline passenger:

  • Your flight has been delayed by three hours or more.
  • Your flight has been cancelled shortly before departure
  • You missed your connecting flight
  • You weren't allowed to board the flight
  • Your flight schedule changed

In the event of a flight cancellation, delay, baggage problem or denied boarding, you have rights. For more information see the Civil Aviation Authority and EU Air passenger rights

Air Passenger Rights

What can I do if I have been downgraded on my flight?

According to Civil Aviation Authority, if your airline downgrades you to a lower class from the one you were for example premium, first or business class, you are entitled to compensation of a percentage of the price for the flight on which you were downgraded. See our guide on information on the involuntary downgrades for more information.

The table below shows how this is calculated:

Length of journey Reimbursement
Up to 1500km 30% of the flight price
1500-3500km 50% of the flight price
More than 3500km 75% of the flight price

How long does a flight have to be delayed for compensation?

Flight destinations within the EU

  • € 250 compensation for a delayed flight of up to 1500 km
  • € 400 compensation for a delayed flight of more than 1500 km
  • Flight destinations outside the EU

Flight destinations outside the EU

  • €250 compensation for a delayed flight of up to 1500 km
  • € 400 compensation for a delayed flight from 1500 km to 3500 km
  • € 600 compensation for a delayed flight of more than 3500 km

In case of flight delays between three and four hours and a distance of 3500 km or more, you are liable to get 50% of the compensation.

How do I make a complaint against an airline?

You can make a complaint with the airline directly, but also ensure to make a complaint with the Department of Transportation as well.