What are Air Passenger Right?
Air passenger rights involve specific laws that support travelers and advocate for protection and compensation when people face flight disruptions.
The situation varies from country to country. In the USA there are some regulations related to situations such as overbooked flights and tarmac delays. However, passengers often find more protection under the regulations in the countries they travel to. Europe’s EC 261 laws, in particular, are comprehensive and entitle passengers to compensation in a range of situations.
The problem is that many people are not aware that the law is on their side or even that passenger rights exist. In fact, 85% of EU air passengers do not know their rights and 92% of US air passengers do not know their rights.
Air Passenger Right and Regulations You Should know
While it’s true that individual countries abide by their own laws, there are some key features of regional or international laws that serve as powerful tools to air passengers. These include, but are not limited to, EU legislation EC 261, various US laws, Brazil’s ANAC 400, and the Montreal Convention.
Certain regulations have a wider reach or prove more advantageous than others. However, it’s best to remember that disrupted flight circumstances can differ significantly, and it’s helpful to know which strengths you can rely on for your journey.
EC 261 Compensation for Disrupted Flights
Travelers often do not understand that in many instances, airlines are legally and financially responsible for flight issues, not the passenger.
Depending on your flight, flight scenario, and ultimate destination, understanding passenger rights and filing for EU airline compensation can mean up to $700 per person in reimbursements.
To make an EU 261 claim, AirHelp can assist with our staff of legal experts to iron out the finer details and legal jargon.
Just select what happened on your disrupted flight:
Long delay of flights (three or more hours)
The amount of compensation passengers are entitled to depends on a lot of factors including the distance traveled and the amount of time you are delayed reaching your final destination.
EU Airline Compensation – Which Flights are Covered by EC 261?
When it comes to EU Airline Compensation, it’s beneficial to know which flights are covered by EC 261. Most routes within Europe are covered. This includes not only EU airspace, but also Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and the so-called “outermost regions” (French Guiana and Martinique, Mayotte, Guadeloupe and La Réunion, Saint-Martin, Madeira and the Azores, and the Canary Islands).
Many international flights are covered, as well. If your flight departs from an airport in the EU, it’s covered. If your flight departs from elsewhere but your destination is in the EU, coverage depends on the airline ⎯ if it’s a European carrier, you’re covered.
Dont Miss Out of Possible Claims
In some cases, disrupted flights outside the EU may be eligible under EC 261 if they connect to a covered flight that is with the same carrier and part of the same flight reservation (under one booking reference number). The easiest way to find out if you’re covered is to use the AirHelp eligibility check.
Your rights under EC 261
In addition to EU airline compensation which is monetary, EC 261 includes other rights relating to your treatment. Here are some of the highlights:
Obligation to inform passengers of their rights
Your first basic right is to be informed about the content of EC 261. Every airline has to display information on passengers’ rights at their check-in counters in every airport where they operate. If our breakdown of the legalese is still not enough, you can read the actual text of EC 261, as well.
Right to reimbursement or re-routing
In addition to compensation for your loss of time, if your delay exceeds five hours, you are entitled to a full or partial refund of your original ticket and a return flight to your point of departure, if needed.
Right to care
When a flight disruption occurs and you’re stuck waiting for the airline to get you back on track toward your destination, you’re entitled to a number of essentials, depending on your flight details.
The carrier must provide you with:
Meals and refreshments during the delay
Access to communications, including two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, and emails
If overnight accommodations are necessary, they must provide you with a hotel room and transportation to and from the airport
The following chart explains when passengers become eligible for these rights:
Air Passenger Rights
Flight details Length of delay
All flights 1,500km or less 2 hours or more
Internal EU flights over 1,500 km 3 hours or more
Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km 3 hours or more
Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 km 4 hours or more
Upgrading and downgrading
If you are offered an alternative flight and placed in a higher class than the one you booked, the air carrier cannot charge you any additional payment. On the other hand, if the class of the alternative flight is lower, you can get a reimbursement between 30% and 75% of the price you originally paid.
Your right to compensation under EC 261 does not affect your right to request further compensation. This rule does not apply in cases where passengers have voluntarily surrendered their reservations. Of course, the amount you are entitled to under EC 261 may be deducted from whatever additional compensation you receive.
EU 261 Claim – Is there a time limit to file a claim?
Your right to compensation under EC 261 does eventually expire, but the time limit varies from one country to the next.
You should note that the country you claim in is not decided by your nationality, but is determined by where the headquarters of the airline is, or what court has jurisdiction in cases concerning the airline.
As always, we have a handy chart for you:
Air Passenger Rights
COUNTRY LIMITATION PERIOD
Austria 3 years
Belgium 1 year
Bulgaria 5 years
Croatia 3 years
Cyprus 6 years
Czech Republic 3 years
Denmark 3 years
Estonia 3 years
Finland 3 years
France 5 years
Germany* 3 years
Greece 5 years
Hungary 5 years
Iceland 2 years
Ireland 6 years
Italy 26 months
Latvia 10 years
Lithuania 10 years
Luxembourg 10 years
Malta No limit
Netherlands 2 years
Norway 3 years
Poland 1 year
Portugal 3 years
Romania 3 years
Slovakia 2 years
Slovenia 2 years
Spain 5 years
Sweden** 3 years
Switzerland 2 years
United Kingdom 6 years
* For Germany, the limitation period expires the last day of the third year (for example, the limitation period for a flight on 25/2/2016 expires on 31/12/2019).
** For Sweden, the limitation period is renewed any time a claim is made. So the limitation period for any subsequent claims would be three years from the time the last claim was filed.