Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 is an EU law designed to protect air passenger rights. Under this law, airlines are liable when flights get disrupted due to circumstances that were under their control.
All passengers departing from European airports are covered by this law. In addition, passengers arriving at European airports from destinations around the world may be covered as well, provided that the carrier is an EU-based airline.
Flight compensation under EC 261
Air travellers often don’t know that, in many cases, airlines are legally responsible for flight disruptions. It’s worth knowing your air passenger rights because each passenger can receive up to €600 in flight compensation. However, there is no need to know all the details and legal jargon as WingsClaim along with its staff and legal experts can help you with the claiming process.
Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 covers flight disruptions listed below:
Vuelo de conexión perdido
he compensation amount you may receive depends on many factors such as the flight distance and the amount of time you were delayed before arriving at your destination airport.
For which flights can I get a compensation under EC 261?
Nearly all flights inside Europe are eligible for compensation. Therefore, they include flights not only from EU member states but also Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the distant regions, such as French Guiana and Martinique, Guadeloupe and La Réunion, Saint-Martin, Madeira, the Azores, and the Canary Islands.
Your flight must begin in the EU or arrive at an EU airport. However, when a flight departs from a non-EU country — the carrier must be an EU-based airline.
Disrupted flights outside the EU may be covered by Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 if they connect to a covered flight. Such flights must have a connecting flight within the EU and made in one reservation (they have the same booking reference number).
Flight compensation under extraordinary circumstances
Under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, airlines don’t have to pay compensation if the reason for the disruption were extraordinary circumstances, which are events outside of airlines’ control. Examples of these circumstances are political unrest, severe weather conditions, security risks, and so on.
Nevertheless, airlines must be ready to prevent delays even in these non-refundable cases. If other airlines were prepared for extraordinary circumstances and managed to prevent delays, but yours didn’t, you should 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.
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.
Air travel passenger rights under EC 261
Apart from monetary compensation, airlines are obligated to take care of their passengers under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004.
Airlines are obligated to inform air passengers about the contents of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 by displaying information on passengers’ rights at their check-in counters in every airport where they operate.
Reimbursement or re-routing
If your flight delay is more than 5 hours, you are entitled to a full or partial refund of your flight ticket in addition to compensation and a return flight to your departure airport if you need 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 time limit
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.
In Germany the limitation period expires the last day of the third year (for example, the disrupted flight was on 22/3/2018, the limitation period for this flight expires on 31/12/2021).
In Sweden the limitation period is renewed at any time when a claim is made. So the limitation period for any subsequent claims would be 3 years from the time the last claim was filed.
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.
What air passenger rights are covered by the Montreal Convention?
LThe Montreal Convention defines passenger rights for several types of flight disruptions that include flight delays, cancelled flights, and denied boarding.
If a passenger misses a pre-paid reservation and has additional expenses due to this disruption, these expenses may be covered by the airline. It’s necessary to provide documentation of the incident and proof of additional expenses i.e. receipts. Only expenses resulting from the disruption are refunded. The Montreal Convention also protects in cases, such as damaged bags, delayed bags or lost luggage.
The Montreal Convention outlines strict time limits so you must file your claim as soon as possible – within 7 days for damaged baggage claims, 21 days for delayed baggage. There’s a 2-year time limit to file a claim for lost baggage, which is lost for more than 21 days.
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.