Passenger Rights for Canceled Flights
Flight cancellations can often be the result of aircraft or crew unavailability. In recent years, many airlines have been reducing costs by having less crew and maintenance staff on standby. Additionally, they are now operating with less turnaround time (the time an airplane spends at an airport). That means that even the slightest problem with an aircraft or crew can cause a chain reaction across the entire airline’s network potentially resulting in cancelled flights.
Compensation for a flight cancellation is guaranteed by European Passenger Rights Regulation EC 261/04.
Based on certain conditions, it entitles passengers to up to €600 for a cancelled flight. In case of flight cancellation, the airline must provide an alternate flight. Depending on when the passengers were informed of the cancellation, if the itinerary suffers significant changes, passengers may be entitled to a cash refund of up to €600. Depending on other conditions (such as when the replacement flight arrives compared to originally scheduled), the flight cancellation compensation may be reduced by 50%.
If extraordinary circumstances occurred, such as a strike or general grounding of flights by authorities, the airline will be exempt from paying the refund. Additionally, if passengers are informed of the flight cancellation 14 days or more in advance, they will not be entitled to cancelled flight compensation.
Extraordinary circumstances apart, EU 261/04 also covers missed connections, flight delays and overbooking that have occurred in the last two years. Like with flight cancellations, you may be entitled to up to €600 if you reach your destination three or more hours after schedule.
Please note: It is crucial you stay at your gate after being informed of your flight’s cancellation. This way you will be aware of any change in circumstance or alternatives provided by the airline, such as a replacement aircraft. If you miss the airline’s suggested alternatives your right to cancelled flight compensation is lost.
Get an expert to help
In the absence of exceptional circumstances, air passenger rights Regulation EU 261/2004 stipulates that compensation is due in the event of a flight delay, cancellation or denied boarding due to overbooking. If you were affected by a cancelled flight and want to file a claim for cancelled flight compensation with the help of flight delay claimers please take the following steps:
- Enter the flight data of your cancelled flight into the claim calculator found on our website.
- You will be notified immediately how much you are owed.
- Now sign a power of attorney and we will take care of the rest on your behalf.
We will contact the airline in question. If an airline refuses to pay cancelled flight compensation, we will take the claim to court, at no extra cost to you.
Once the airline has paid out your cancelled flight compensation, we’ll keep 24% of the compensation as a commission (corresponds to 20% success fee plus VAT) and transfer the rest of the money directly to your bank account!
What is a flight cancellation?
Air travel is not always smooth and sometimes flight cancellations happen.
An airline can cancel a flight for a number of reasons. Sometimes, problems like bad weather or security risks can create a knock-on effect leading an airline to pull the plug on a flight.
Did you know that when an airline cancels your flight, you may be eligible to receive a flight cancellation compensation?
EU regulation, EC 261, gives passengers the right to be reimbursed for flight cancellations providing certain criteria are met.
If you qualify under EC 261, an airline is obligated to pay you flight cancellation compensation (EU) of up to £510.
What counts as flight cancellation?
Flight cancellation involves two parties, the airline and passenger.
The airline considers a flight as cancelled if the plane never left the tarmac. The EC 261 defines a cancelled flight as,
“The non-operation of a flight which was previously planned and on which at least one place was reserved”.
As a passenger, for your flight to be deemed cancelled: you must have booked a ticket for the flight in question.
Remember that a flight that takes off late, i.e. a delayed flight, is not a cancelled flight.
Are you eligible to claim flight cancellation compensation?
Under EC 261, you are entitled to cancelled flight compensation if…
- The cancelled flight should have been set to depart from the EU(from any airline) or scheduled to land in the EU (provided that the airline is headquartered in the EU).
- You need to have a confirmed reservation shown by a booking reservation (with information like the flight number, name of passenger etc.) of the flight.
- The airline notifies the passenger of the cancellation less than 14 days before the flight is set to depart
- Your flight is cancelled by not-so-extraordinary circumstances like “technical difficulties” or “operational circumstances”. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has repeatedly stated that those don’t qualify as “extraordinary circumstances”, which means the airline must still oblige by EC 261 obligations and pay you flight cancellation compensation.
- Under a recent ruling by the ECJ, internal ‘wildcat strikes’ by flight staff do not constitute as ‘extraordinary circumstances’. Therefore, airlines must now compensate air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, when an airline strike is to blame.
Cancelled flights: under which circumstances are passengers not covered under EC 261?
Providing the airline informed passengers of the flight cancellation 14 days or more in advance.
Extraordinary circumstances are not covered.
Passengers are not entitled to flight cancellation compensation if the delay is caused by “extraordinary circumstances”. This is because, under EC 261, the airline is not liable.
These include situations like lightning strikes, medical emergencies, airport employee strikes or air traffic control strikes, serious adverse weather conditions, air traffic control restrictions, sudden malfunctioning of the airport radar, acts of sabotage, political unrest, acts of terrorism… you get the idea.
Does snow count as a ‘serious adverse weather condition’?
It depends on whether or not the airline could have prevented the problem.
If, for example, the airline failed to ensure that there were sufficient supplies of de-icer before the onset of winter, it could be held responsible for the delay—especially if flights operated by other airlines were able to depart on time.
Airline strikes do not fall under extraordinary circumstances
In April 2018, the ECJ made a ruling stating that internal ‘wildcat strikes’ by flight staff do not constitute as ‘extraordinary circumstances’.
Therefore, airlines must now compensate air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, when an airline strike is to blame.
Free of charge
Passengers travelling free of charge (e.g. air hostess) or at a reduced fare not available directly, or indirectly to the public are not eligible to flight cancellation compensation.
My flight time was moved forward. Which regulations apply?
If your flight departs much sooner than the originally scheduled time, this is also considered a cancellation. In such a case, you are also eligible for cancelled flight compensation.
I was placed on a substitute flight headed to my original destination, yet a different airport of that city (for example, to London Luton as opposed to London Heathrow). Will I be remunerated for any costs incurred, if I wish to (or have to) return to the destination airport originally booked?
Yes. If there are several airports in one region the travel cost for this journey must be covered by the airline. The airline is even required to pay you if you wish to travel to another airport nearby. You should however discuss the details of your airline compensation with the responsible airline representatives.
What happens, if I cancel my own flight?
If you chose not to board a flight you had booked, you are bound by the terms and conditions set out by the airline at the time of booking. This can frequently result in your costs being reimbursed entirely. However, at times only a small portion, i.e. the fees and taxes, are reimbursed. Some airlines deduct processing fees from the payout sum – each airline has its own method. What must be kept in mind at all times is to check your eligibility for airline compensation as quickly as possible
To claim your cancelled flight compensation with flight delay claimers simply submit your flight information on our website. You can find out right away how much you may be owed. You’ll then simply have to sign and upload a Power of Attorney and we’ll get the process underway. We’ll first try to settle directly with the airline, but if it refuses to pay, we’ll take your case to court at no extra fee. With our Europe-wide network of passenger rights lawyers, we have proved successful in winning airline compensation for our clients time and again.
Once the airline has paid out your cancelled flight compensation, we’ll keep 24% of the compensation paid (corresponds to 20% success fee plus VAT) and transfer the rest of your money directly to your bank account!