This post is in collaboration with Click2Refund.
You know that European vacation you took in 2017?
The one where your journey home turned into a three-day sojourn thanks to flight delays and missed connections?
You might be owed money for that trip thanks to a European law.
No insignificant sum, either. Depending on the length of the delay, you may be owed up to $700.
You can either attempt to claim this money yourself, or enlist the help of professionals like Click2Refund.
Table of Contents
What is EU Regulation 261/2004?
EU regulation 261/2004 is a European law that protects passengers against flight disruptions that are the airline’s fault.
When your flight is delayed or cancelled within 14 days of scheduled departure, European airlines or airlines departing from the EU have an obligation to compensate you for your time and inconvenience under EU regulation 261/2004 — except in ‘extraordinary circumstances.’
This compensation can vary from €250 – €600, which is $293-$704USD at the time of writing.
You can also claim this compensation if you are denied boarding when the aircraft is overbooked.
How much compensation can I get?
The amount of compensation you receive varies depending on the length of the flight and the length of the delay.
The delay must be more than 3 hours in order to qualify for any compensation. If your flight is:
- 1,500 km or more, you may qualify for €250.
- 1,500-3,000 km, you may qualify for €400.
- 3,500 km or more, you may qualify for €300.
If your delay was 4 hours or more on a flight of over 3,500 km, you may be entitled to €600.
For reference, it’s about 5,585 km from London to New York City, and a little over 7,000 km from CDG to ATL.
Do airlines have to compensate for cancelled flights?
Yes. Under the same regulation, airlines must provide you with a ticket refund or a replacement flight. They also have to feed you while you’re waiting, and cover your hotel if necessary.
If the cancellation happens within 14 days of your scheduled departure, you may also be eligible for flight compensation as outlined above.
Is EU 261 compensation per person or per purchase?
Per person. If you bought four tickets for your family, each person would be eligible for their own individual compensation check.
Does EU regulation 261/2004 apply during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes and no.
EU 261 still applies during the Coronavirus pandemic. If your flight is delayed or cancelled due to circumstances the airline reasonably could have controlled, you’re still entitled to compensation.
But if your flight was cancelled or delayed due to a travel ban or warning related to the virus, you aren’t necessarily entitled to compensation. The airline must comply with current health and travel guidelines. These qualify as extraordinary circumstances the airline cannot control or predict.
How long do I have to file a claim under EU regulation 261/2004?
It depends on the country of departure.
The EU country that offers the shortest time frame to file your initial claim is Romania. You only have six months.
Other member countries are far more generous with their statutes of limitations.
Here are the EU countries where the statue of limitations extends to only two years:
- The Netherlands.
If your flight is departing from one of these EU countries, you have three years to file your initial claim:
- Czech Republic.
Here are the EU countries where you have up to five years to file your initial EU 261 claim:
In these countries, you have up to six years:
- The UK (unless your flight left from Scotland.)
Lithuania, Luxenbourg and Sweden allow for up to 10 years. Amazingly, there is no statue of limitations if your delayed flight left from Poland.
How do I file an EU 261 claim?
There are a few different levels to making an EU 261 claim. The first option is to contact the airline that operated the delayed flight. They should be able to tell you their procedure for submitting a written claim.
If your claim with the airline is denied or not responded to within two months, you can then escalate things to the national enforcement bureau in whichever country the flight departed from.
For example, in the UK, you would contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
At this point, the airline can choose whether or not they want to take the claim to court. This is where things start to get more difficult if your live outside the jurisdiction, as you’ll incur not only legal fees, but also potential travel costs.
Get help filing your EU 261 claim.
If doing all this sounds like a pain, you can use a service like Click2Refund. Click2Refund handles your claim for you, from initial contact with the airline to court — should things go that far.
You only get charged if they win your claim. Then, the fee is 25%.
This fee is in line with what other similar service providers charge, though many competitors charge additional administrative fees in addition to a 25% fee — making Click2Refund one of the best deals on the market.
In this time when work and money is so disjointed, a claim from an old cancelled flight could help smooth out your budget. Check and see if yours qualifies here.