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Your Guide to

Airline Passenger Rights

Don’t let unexpected flight delays or cancellations cost you more time and money. Know your airline passenger rights.

Check Eligibility

Air travel has reached an all-time high. Unfortunately, flight delays or cancellations have become the new normal for many international air travelers. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fight back. Know your rights!

Passenger Rights:
What You Need to Know

44% of eligible passengers never file a claim. Don’t be another statistic. Let’s get the money you’re entitled to.

Airline Passenger Rights Overview

When something goes wrong on a trip, most people don’t think they can do anything about it. Travelers often don’t know that passenger rights exist, or how to claim compensation based on laws that have been put in place to protect them.

Sure, airline passenger rights can seem complicated — but the most important thing to remember is, if you are traveling by air, there are specific laws that support air travelers and help you claim compensation when facing flight disruptions.

Rules + Regulations

The European Union (EU), Canada and the US have different regulations and policies for passengers on flights to, from and within their respective countries. Where your flight departs from and where it lands matters in determining which law applies.

It’s also important to remember that outbound and return flights are considered separate flights, even if they are booked under the same reservation. And in some cases, the airline operating your flight may not be the same one as the one from which you bought your ticket.

This is why Airline Payback can help. We’re experts at the ins and outs of applicable rules and regulations. We review your flight details, ask questions and make sure we’ve got the necessary information to help you file your claim.

EU Regulation EC 261/2004

Since 2004, the European Union, established rights for air travelers under regulation EC 261. EC 261 establishes common rules for compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of long flight delays, flight cancellations and denied boarding. The law not only levels the playing field by protecting passenger rights, it also serves as an incentive for airlines to operate more punctually.

EC 261/2004 regulation is important because it covers ALL travelers flying from a European airport, regardless of nationality. Under the law, if you fly inside the EU or from Europe to another worldwide destination, you’re entitled to compensation for a cancellation or delay of more than three hours — regardless of which airline you flew. But, if you fly to the EU, you must be on an airline with headquarters in the EU.

Depending on the flight, the specific conditions and destination, you may be able to claim compensation of €250 – €600 per flight, per person.

There is also a time limit to file a claim for flight compensation, and that time limit varies from one country to the next (e.g. Germany is 3 years, while the UK is 6 years).

Again, this is not based on the nationality of the traveler, but where the HQ of the operating airline is located.
Bottom line? If you have experienced a delay, cancellation or overbooking for a flight that started or landed in the EU and the operating airline is EU-based, let us check your eligibility now  see if you are owed money.

International Flights (Montreal Convention)

The Montreal Convention (2003) is a multilateral treaty, adopted by over 130 countries, governing airline liability in the case of flight delay and damaged/lost luggage. While it’s certainly not as comprehensive as EC 261, it does provide you certain rights to claim for baggage damages on international flights.

Under the convention, you can be compensated for expenses incurred (meals, accommodation, etc.) or sustained losses (e.g. damage or luggage, lost work, missed events).

Not sure if you’re eligible for a claim? Contact us directly with your specific flight information and a description of your problem.

Canadian Passenger Rights

Currently, Canada does not have legislation as extensive as Regulation (EC) 261/2004 (i.e. uniform rules and a compensation process).

However, Canadian legislators recently introduced a proposed passenger ‘bill of rights’ (Dec 2018) that would apply to carriers flying into, out of and across Canada.

If passed, it promises to establish uniform rules for all airlines in Canada, allowing passengers to claim compensation unless the problem is due to a “safety related” mechanical issue or is weather-related.

A draft of the bill is under public review, with a goal to have the rules in place by July 1, 2019.

US Passenger Rights

US passenger rights laws governing delays and cancellations are not as comprehensive as EU or international laws. However, per US regulations, you may be entitled to compensation for lengthy tarmac delays, denied boarding due to overbooking or if you experience certain luggage problems.

At this time, Airline Payback can only help file claims for compensation under EC 261 or the Montreal Convention.

What’s not covered?

Under EC 261, airlines do not owe compensation if the flight delay, cancellation or overbooking has been caused by “extraordinary circumstances” — or factors that affect the flight schedule, which are outside the airline’s control.

Some common extraordinary circumstances include:

  • Airport closings due to employee or air traffic control strikes
  • Political unrest
  • Unexpected security breaches or risks
  • Extreme weather (e.g. fog, hail, snow, thunderstorms)
  • Radar failure
  • Equipment damage due to bird strikes

Natural disasters (e.g. ash cloud, smoke from fires)

How can Airline Payback help?

Air passenger rights are complicated, which is why many airlines make it difficult to claim the money you’re entitled to. Airlines know that, the harder they make it, the less likely you are to follow-through to claim your money.

Under EU regulations, flight disruptions such as delays, cancellations, overbooking or missed connections mean you may be entitled to claim compensation of €250 – €600 per person, per flight, if the airline itself is responsible for the disruption.

Airline Payback knows the laws that are on your side. We help travelers who have experienced flight delays, cancellations, denied boarding and missed connections file a claim and fight for their rights to get the money they deserve. Let us check your eligibility now see if you are owed money.

Flight Delay Compensation

Flight delay compensation can seem complicated. Don’t know where to start? Put our expertise to work and get the money you’re entitled to by law.

What is flight cancellation compensation?

Unfortunately, an airline can cancel a flight for any number of reasons. If you’re travelling with an airline based in the EU or with a non-EU airline flying from an EU airport, flight cancellations are protected by Denied Boarding Regulations.

Depending upon the circumstances, that means the airline must offer you: a refund or an alternative flight, food/drink, accommodations, and/or compensation.

However, if the cancellation is due to ‘extraordinary circumstances‘, you are not entitled to any monetary compensation.

How do I know if my flight delay is covered?

For flights covered by EC 261, ANY delay longer than three hours allows you to claim financial compensation. It’s important to remember that delays are calculated on the time of arrival (not departure), which is the official time when the aircraft reaches its final destination and one of the doors open to allow passengers to disembark.

As a reminder, your flight delay may not be covered if it has been caused by “extraordinary circumstances” which are outside the airline’s control.

If you’re not sure whether or not your flight qualifies, or you have additional questions or details, Airline Payback will do a FREE check to let you know if you’re entitled to claim compensation.

How much money am I entitled to?

The amount of money you are owed is based on the distance of your flight, which means it has nothing to do with the cost of your ticket.

Under EC 261, you are entitled to the following compensation based on distance (per person/per flight):

  • Short-distance flight delays (up to 1500 km) – you may claim €250 compensation
  • Mid-distance flight delays (1500 km – 3500 km) – you may claim €400 compensation
  • Long-distance flight delays (over 3500 km) – you may claim €600 compensation

Besides monetary compensation, under EC 261, the airline may need to provide you with meals and refreshments during the delay, as well as access to communication such as phone, fax or email.

Are there any other rights I should know about?

EC 261 provides some lesser known protection for passengers, including:

  • If you need to stay overnight, the airlines must provide you with a hotel room, as well as transportation to and from the airport.
  • If your delay exceeds 5 hours, you are entitled to a full or partial refund of your original ticket, as well as a return flight to your departure point.
  • The airlines have an obligation to inform passengers of their rights – which means every airline must have passenger rights information clearly displayed at check-in counters.

EU regulations clearly state that compensation should be paid in cash, electronic transfer or checks unless the passenger chooses travel vouchers. Be careful if the airline offers you flight (travel) vouchers. By accepting travel vouchers, you could be waiving your right to claim the full compensation you may be owed.

What do I do if my flight is delayed?

If you’ve experienced a flight delay (or are in the middle of a delay right now), it’s easy to become frustrated, stressed or angry. It feels like the airline has control and there’s nothing you can do.

Take a deep breath and arm yourself with information. Here are a few steps you can take to make sure you document your delay:

  • Ask the airline personnel why the flight was delayed
  • Be sure to keep a copy of your boarding and any other travel documents
  • Gather proof – take photos of the departure board or check-in counter
  • When you arrive at your final destination, make a note of the time (better yet, take a photo or screen shot of the arrival time)
  • Don’t sign anything or accept travel vouchers that could waive your rights to future compensation
  • If the delay is over 3 hours, ask the airline to pay for meals/refreshments
How do I file a claim for my flight delay?

Don’t want to deal with the hassle of fighting with the airlines for your money? We can help. We’ll check your eligibility, help you gather the documents you need, file your claim and handle all the paperwork and communication.

There’s no obligation, no risk. We only charge a 25% fee (tax included) when we settle your case and get your money.

If you’ve already verified your eligibility, you can start your claim here. We’ll help you find all the right documents and keep you updated on the status of your claim every step of the way.

Am I entitled to compensation for a missed flight connection?

With air travel, it’s quite easy to miss a connecting flight due to a flight delay, cancellation or overbooking. Under EC 261, you can still make a claim for compensation. You can claim compensation for a missed flight connection if:

  • Both flights were part of the same reservation (i.e. you booked a single trip from your point of departure to your final destination and the airline provided a ticket for a connecting flight)
  • You missed your connection because of a flight delay, cancellation or overbooked flight that was within the airline’s control
  • Your missed connection caused you to be over 3 hours late to your final destination

The flight took off (on any airline) in the EU or landed in the EU (on an airline headquartered in the EU)

What should I do if I miss my connection?

First of all, take a deep breath and assess the situation. We know it’s aggravating, and you may be feeling helpless, especially if your next flight has already left without you. To protect your rights, be proactive and:

  • Gather your boarding pass and any other travel documents (we’ll need these later to help file your claim). Also, be sure to hang on to any receipts (like a pre-paid reservation, rental car, hotel, etc.)
  • Ask to speak to an airline representative and request an alternative or replacement flight.
  • Ask the airline to provide food and drinks if you’re going to be at the airport longer than 3 hours
  • If the airline cannot rebook you on another flight or hasn’t found a seat for a late flight, ask the airline to provide hotel accommodations, as well as transportation to and from the airport.Don’t forget your bags! You may be able to get them while you’re waiting for your replacement flight.
  • Check your eligibility  and see if your connection is eligible for compensation
How can Airline Payback help?

Air passenger rights are complicated, which is why many airlines make it difficult to claim the money you’re entitled to. Airlines know that, the harder they make it, the less likely you are to follow-through to claim your money.

Under EU regulations, flight disruptions such as delays, cancellations, overbooking or missed connections mean you may be entitled to claim compensation of €250 – €600 per person, per flight, if the airline itself is responsible for the disruption.

Airline Payback knows the laws that are on your side. We help travelers who have experienced flight delays, cancellations, denied boarding and missed connections file a claim and fight for their rights to get the money they deserve. Let us check your eligibility now see if you are owed money.

Flight Cancellation Compensation

Flight delay compensation can seem complicated. Don’t know where to start? Put our expertise to work and get the money you’re entitled to by law.

What is flight cancellation compensation?

Unfortunately, an airline can cancel a flight for any number of reasons. If you’re travelling with an airline based in the EU or with a non-EU airline flying from an EU airport, flight cancellations are protected by Denied Boarding Regulations.

Depending upon the circumstances, that means the airline must offer you: a refund or an alternative flight, food/drink, accommodations, and/or compensation.

However, if the cancellation is due to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ , you are not entitled to any monetary compensation.

Am I eligible to claim flight cancellation compensation?

Similar to flight delays, flight cancellation compensation falls under Regulation (EC) 261/2004. You are eligible for compensation if you meet certain conditions:

  • The airline notified you of the flight cancellation less than 14 days before the scheduled flight departure.
  • Your cancelled flight was supposed to depart from the EU (on any airline) or scheduled to land in the EU (on an airline headquartered in the EU).
  • The reason for the cancellation was within the airline’s control.
  • You had a confirmed flight reservation (i.e. booking confirmation listing flight numbers and passenger information).
  • The new arrival time of your replacement flight is significantly different from your original flight.

Not sure if you’re eligible for a claim? Contact us  directly with your specific flight information and a description of your circumstances. 

How much money am I entitled to if my flight is cancelled?

Flight cancellation compensation is determined by a combination of factors, including: whether your flight was within the EU, trip distance and the length of your delay (compared to your originally booked flight).
Depending on your specific circumstances, you could be entitled to compensation of €125 – €600. Most importantly, you are only entitled to compensation if the airline notifies you of the cancellation less than 14 days before your scheduled departure.

Remember, compensation is based on the flight route and the airline, not where the passengers are from. So, US, Canadian and other foreign citizens have the same rights under EU 261 as those from the EU.

What do I do if my flight is cancelled?

While it’s very stressful to have a change in plans, you do have options. If your flight has been cancelled and was supposed to depart from an EU airport, or you were supposed to land at an EU airport and your trip is booked on an EU-headquartered airline, then you can choose to either:

  • Request an alternative flight to your destination. For example, if you flight wasn’t direct and was cancelled part of the way, you are entitled to a flight back to your original point of departure (or to be refunded in full). The airline must reroute you to your first destination at the earliest opportunity or to a later date convenient to you. Don’t forget, you’re also entitled to food/drink, communication and hotel accommodation assistance.
  • Cancel your flight and get a refund. This option is available to even if you flight isn’t cancelled, and the flight delay lasts longer than 5 hours. The airline must give you a refund of the full cost of the flight within 7 day. However, you should know that, if you take the refund, you cannot claim any additional expenses or compensation.
How do I file a claim for my flight cancellation?

Fighting with the airlines for flight cancellation compensation can sometimes be tricky. We can help. We’ll check your eligibility,  help you gather the documents you need, file your claim and handle all the paperwork and communication.

There’s no obligation, no risk. We only charge a 25% fee (tax included) when we settle your case and get your money.
If you’ve already verified your eligibility, you can start your claim here.  We’ll help you find all the right documents and keep you updated on the status of your claim every step of the way.

How can Airline Payback help?

Air passenger rights are complicated, which is why many airlines make it difficult to claim the money you’re entitled to. Airlines know that, the harder they make it, the less likely you are to follow-through to claim your money.
Under EU regulations, flight disruptions such as delays, cancellations, overbooking or missed connections mean you may be entitled to claim compensation of €250 – €600 per person, per flight, if the airline itself is responsible for the disruption.

Airline Payback knows the laws that are on your side. We help travelers who have experienced flight delays, cancellations, denied boarding and missed connections file a claim and fight for their rights to get the money they deserve. Let us check your eligibility now see if you are owed money.

Overbooked Flight Compensation

When you book a trip, you never think you’ll be the one denied boarding. Review your rights and let us help get the money you’re entitled to.

What do I do if my flight has been overbooked?

Airlines regularly overbook flights by selling more tickets than there are seats on the plane. Why? On average, 15-20% of passengers don’t show up for their flight. But when enough passengers do, the result is an overbooked flight.

According to regulations, it’s perfectly legal for the airlines to do this. But you have rights as well. If a flight is overbooked, the airline is required to ask for volunteers for an alternative flight (and they’ll generally offer a travel voucher as an incentive). If no one volunteers, regulations allow the airline to randomly select passengers who will be offered an alternative to their flight. It is up to you whether or not you choose to volunteer.

What if no one volunteers and I’m selected?

Unfortunately, having a reservation or even getting a seat assignment doesn’t protect you from being randomly selected. If you refuse to leave the plane, the airline can call in law enforcement — and you may be removed from the plane.

If selected and you disembark as requested, you do have a right to claim compensation. The airline must also make alternate flight arrangements.

What’s the difference between denied boarding and overbooking?

Overbooking is simply selling more tickets than there are seats on a plane. Again, the airlines are allowed to do this.

‘Involuntary denied boarding’ means you have been denied boarding through no fault of your own. An overbooked flight is one reason for denied boarding. In the EU and the US, this means you have a right to compensation to offset the inconvenience.

However, if the denied boarding is due to something that is your fault (e.g. missing ID, late gate arrival, belligerent behaviors), you are not entitled to compensation. One more point: if you voluntarily give up your seat in exchange for an alternate flight, refund or travel voucher, you also surrender your right for additional compensation.

How much compensation am I entitled to?

How much compensation am I entitled to?
Under EC 261, for all flights within the EU and to the EU via an EU-based airline, each passenger may be entitled to €600 compensation if they are denied boarding against their will.

Additionally, while you are waiting for your next flight, the airline must provide food, drinks, communication and overnight accommodation (if necessary). Lastly, the airline must refund your ticket if arrival to your final destination is delayed more than 5 hours — or you can’t/don’t want to wait for the next reasonable flight.

Don’t forget, in the case of denied boarding or an overbooked flight, the airline must provide you with written notice on how to claim compensation.

My US flight was overbooked. Is there anything I can do?

Overbooking flights is quite common in the US. However, in this case, US regulations protect passenger rights with the following compensation guidelines:

  • If the airline finds you another flight within the hour, you are entitled to $0 compensation.
  • If the airline finds you a flight within 1-2 hours, you are entitled to flight compensation that is 200% of the ticket price (maximum of $675).
  • If the airline cannot find you a flight and you must wait more than 2 hours, you are entitled to flight compensation that is 400% of the ticket price (maximum of $1375).
What should I do if I can’t board my flight because it was overbooked?

It’s easy to be angry or frustrated, especially if you’re being asked to get off the plane involuntarily. Know that you have rights. Calmly assess the situation and:

  • Hold onto your boarding pass and ask why you’re being denied boarding or asked to disembark. This information is very important if you decide to file a claim.
  • Ask to speak to an airline representative and request an alternate flight to your destination.
  • In both the US and the EU, you have a right to compensation under the law. Depending upon the circumstances, you may be entitled to additional compensation in addition to an alternate flight. And under EC 261, you should be paid immediately at the airport.
  • If for some reason you don’t get your compensation, you can still submit a claim. Be sure you have your original documents, as well as your new documents (including e-tickets and boarding passes). Take screenshots or photos if necessary, including any written communication from the airline.
  • Lastly, jot down, photograph or screengrab your arrival time at your final destination.
How can Airline Payback help?

Air passenger rights are complicated, which is why many airlines make it difficult to claim the money you’re entitled to. Airlines know that, the harder they make it, the less likely you are to follow-through to claim your money.

Under EU regulations, flight disruptions such as delays, cancellations, overbooking or missed connections mean you may be entitled to claim compensation of €250 – €600 per person, per flight, if the airline itself is responsible for the disruption.

Airline Payback knows the laws that are on your side. We help travelers who have experienced flight delays, cancellations, denied boarding and missed connections file a claim and fight for their rights to get the money they deserve. Let us check your eligibility now see if you are owed money.

We fight for your money, so you don’t have to!

Don’t let the airlines win. They’ve cost you enough time and money. We help you file a
claim for the compensation you may be entitled to.