Published on February 10, 2019 | by Andrea Guerriero


How much can you get for a cancelled flight?

According to research ordered by GIVT and conducted by SW Research*, as many as 56% of Poles are not aware that they are entitled to financial compensation for a cancelled or delayed flight, up to the amount of EUR 600, and 72% do not know that they are entitled to a reimbursement of the ticket costs. Below is a recap of the passengers’ rights in the event of a cancelled or delayed flight

Cancelled flight – what are your rights?

First of all, it must be kept in mind that compensation for a cancelled flight might be applicable if the cancellation took place from two weeks to 7 days prior to the planned flight date, if the airline offered alternative transportation that will take off no earlier than 2 hours before the planned travel time and arrive at the destination no later than 4 hours after the planned landing (if it is exactly 4 hours, compensation does not apply), and less than 7 days prior to the planned flight date, if the airline offered alternative transportation that will take off no earlier than 1 hour before the planned travel time and arrive at the destination no later than 2 hours after the planned landing.

You are also entitled to, among others, accommodation, if the alternative flight is to take place at least on the next day. At the same time, in such situation, if your alternative flight is to take off at least 2 hours after the planned travel time, you are also entitled to transport from and to the airport, food and beverage. You may also choose between a reimbursement of the ticket price (if this is a transfer flight, the reimbursement of the ticket price applies to the completed leg of the trip and to the leg of the trip that did not take place, if continuing your travel does not serve any purpose), an alternative flight at the earliest possible time or the right to change your itinerary and return to the point of origin, if the cancellation concerns a transfer flight.

Delay and compensation – when does it apply?

The key information in the event of a delayed flight is this: in order to qualify for compensation calculated in proportion to the length of your trip, the delay should be at least 3 hours. How is this time calculated? From the time of planned take-off to opening the plane doors at the point of arrival. If the delay is less than this, for example 2 hours, the airline operator has the duty to inform passengers on an on-going basis about how the situation is developing and what the planned procedures are. Moreover, while we wait, the airline operator must provide us with free food and beverages, in amounts adequate to the waiting time, and enable us to make two free phone calls and to send two e-mails. If your alternative flight, which should be provided by the airline, is scheduled for the next day, you are entitled to accommodation and transport to and from it.

Sometimes delays exceed 2 or 3 hours. If your delay is of at least 5 hours, you are, as a passenger, entitled to a reimbursement of the ticket price or, in the case of transfer flights, reimbursement for the leg of trip that you have already completed and for the leg that you missed as a result of the delay and that you don’t need to take any more. Moreover, you can demand a return flight to your point of origin.

Circumstances that exclude the airline operator’s obligation to pay compensation

The airline operator has the right not to pay compensation in situations where extraordinary circumstances were the reason for flight disturbance, even if the foregoing conditions are met. The extraordinary circumstances may be: Adverse weather, unexpected technical problems (such as a plane failure), political destabilization in the country where the flight was to take place, security threats or air traffic controllers’ strike. Luckily for passengers, neither legal nor illegal strikes of airline operator employees do not exclude its liability and in such events compensation may be sought and the operator has no recourse against it.

What does the compensation amount depend on and how it can be obtained

The minimum amount of compensation that can be received is EUR 250 and it applies to flights on distances of up to 1500 km. Compensation of EUR 400 applies to all flights within the European Union on distances over 1500 km and to other flights on distances between 1500 and 3500 km. EUR 600 is the maximum compensation amount and it applies to all other flights on distances longer than 3500 km. When seeking compensation, you should also make sure that you know the airline and the territory of the flight:

  • compensation does not apply to flights outside of the EU territory, regardless of whether the airline is registered in the European Union. It also does not apply if the flight route was from a non-EU country to an EU country by an airline not registered in the European Union.
  • compensation does apply if your flight was from a non-EU country to an EU country by an airline registered in the EU, and if you fly from an EU country to a non-EU country. It also applies if your flight route was entirely within the EU territory, regardless of where the airline is registered.

Legal basis: Regulation EC 261/2004
*Research was carried out in September 2018 at GIVT’s commission.


About the Author

Hi, I'm Andrea, a travel blogger, web programmer, seo apprentice and amateur photographer based in Milan. I love reading, I love music. I love to travel but only if I leave on a mission! I've been traveling through most of Europe and I love writing about it. I love photography, especially as a way to document experiences, places, events. My Nikon D300 camera is always with me, and it helps me in sharing my life with the rest of the world. Getting in touch with new people, different life styles and foreign traditions, and write about it, is all I can ask for.

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