Air passenger rights

Air passenger rights in the European Union

Many air passengers don’t recognise their rights are covered underneath EU’s air passenger rights described through regulation (EC) No 261/2004. Those who realize that they’re covered still question their rights. SkyDelay will help you recognize air passenger rights and assist you in claiming reimbursement.

What is EC 261?

Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 is an European regulation designed to defend air passenger rights. Underneath this regulation, airways are responsible while flights get disrupted because of circumstances that have been beneath their control.


Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 plays an vital function in protecting air passenger rights of European citizens and foreigners, no matter country of origin. All passengers departing from European airports are protected via this regulation. Similarly, passengers arriving at European airports from locations round the world can be included as well, if flight was operated by Europe based airline.

Compensation under EC 261

Passengers regularly don’t realize that, in lots of cases, airlines are legally liable for flight disruptions. It’s really worth understanding your air passenger rights due to the fact every passenger can obtain as much as €600 in flight compensation. But, there may be no need to understand all of the info and legal language as SkyDelay together with its personnel and legal specialists will help you with the claiming procedure.

What kind of flights are covered under EC 261?

Almost all flights in Europe are eligible for compensation. Therefore, it include flights not only from EU member states but also Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and the distant areas such as Saint-Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands.

Flight must start in the EU or end at an EU airport. While flight departs from a not-EU country — the airline must be based in Europe.

Disrupted flights outside the EU can be protected by EC 261/2004 if they connect to a covered flight. Such flights need to have a connecting flight within the European Union and made in the same reservation (they have got the same booking number called „PNR”)

Extraordinary circumstances vs. compensation

Under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, airlines don’t need to pay compensation if the purpose for the disruption were extraordinary circumstances, that are activities outside of airways’ control. Examples of those circumstances are political unrest, extreme weather situations, security dangers, and so on.

However, airlines should be ready to prevent delays even in those non-refundable cases. If other airlines had been prepared for extraordinary circumstances and managed to prevent delays, however yours didn’t, you need to still be entitled to compensation.

In 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that airline staff strikes are not considered an extraordinary circumstance if the staff were striking without involving the labour union. Therefore, passengers that were affected by airline staff strikes can seek out disrupted flight compensation. Our legal experts keep up to date with court decisions to estimate possible outcomes of cases before taking them to court.

Why air passenger rights?

Air passenger rights include legislation that defends air passengers and guarantees compensation when they experience flight delays, cancellations or are denied boarding. EU’s air passenger rights are defined by Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. Under this law, passengers are entitled to compensation in a range of situations.


However, despite the legal basis, many people are not aware of the law or don’t know that this law is there to protect their rights. In fact, nearly 80% of EU air passengers don’t know their air travel passenger rights. In addition to the laws of individual countries, there are also regional laws, such as Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, various US laws, and the Montreal Convention, which protects air travel passenger rights worldwide.

Duty of providing information regarding air passenger rights

Airlines have to to inform air passengers about the contents of Regulation EC 261/2004 by visible information about passengers rights at their check-in counters in each airport where they flying.

Re-routing and reimbursement

If delay is longer than 5 hours, you are entitled to a full or partial refund of your ticket in addition to compensation and a return flight to your departure airport in case you want that.

Right to care

Regardless of the reasons for your flight delay, under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, airlines must provide you with food and beverages if you have to wait for your flight for more than 2 hours depending on the flight distance. Furthermore, the carrier must provide you with access to the internet, telephone calls, and fax. If the delay is overnight, airlines must provide you with hotel accommodation and transportation from and to the airport. Additional care depends on your flight details.

Upgrading and downgrading

If you get a higher class seat on your alternative flight, you don’t have to pay additionally. However, if the alternative flight seat offered by the airline is the lower class, you may get a 30 – 75%  reimbursement of the price you paid for the ticket.

Flight delay compensation limitation period

Under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, your right to claim compensation will eventually expire. The time limit varies in different countries as it is subject to local law.

The country in which you claim is not determined by your nationality but depends on where the headquarters of the airline is, or what court has jurisdiction in cases concerning the airline.

Time limits for claiming compensation in individual countries.

What is the Montreal Convention?

The Montreal Convention is a multilateral contract that has been ratified by over 130 countries worldwide. It aims to define airline liability in case of a flight delay and for damage or loss of baggage. However, this convention is not as comprehensive on flight disruption as EU Regulation (EC) No 261/2004.

Which flights are covered by the Montreal Convention?

The Montreal Convention applies to international flights between countries that have ratified it. It was signed and is recognised by more than 130 countries worldwide.

The Montreal Convention also applies if your departure and arrival destinations were within a single member country, but only if there is a planned stopover in a different country, which makes the flight international – not domestic.