Flight compensation - everything you need to know


If you’re a fairly frequent flyer it’s most likely you’ve also dealt with delayed or canceled flights. Each year millions of travelers get stranded at airports or arrive to their destination late. What many may not know is that they can claim compensation.

According to ClaimCompass, a platform specializing in helping the average traveler file a claim and securing compensation, only 2 percent of air passengers that are eligible actually claim their compensation every year. Which means that as many as 98 percent do not claim it at all.

When am I eligible for compensation

According to EU regulation 261/2004 you’re entitled to compensation if your flight arrives at the destination at least three hours late and the airline is to blame for the delay. This means causes like technical difficulties, if the flight is overbooked or if there’s no flight crew available. Delays caused by extreme weather, airport employee strikes and other extraordinary circumstances are however not grounds for compensation.

If your flight is canceled you’re always entitled to either a full refund or an alternative flight. If you choose the option of an alternative flight and it delay you by more than two hours late, you can also claim compensation. You’re also entitled to compensation if the original flight was canceled within 14 days of departure.

The regulation also states that you’re only eligible for compensation if you travel inside the EU (including Norway, Switzerland and Iceland) with an airline based in or outside of EU, if you arrive at an EU airport with an airline that is headquartered in the EU or if your flight departures from an EU airport and the airline is based in or outside of EU.

As you can see in the chart above; if you’re delayed between 3-4 hours and your flight is 1 500 kilometres (~930 miles) or less, you’re entitled to $300 in compensation. And if your on a non-internal EU flight with a flight distance of more than 3 500 kilometres (~2 200 miles) that arrive over four hours late, you could be entitled to as much as $700. But how do you stand up to the airlines and claim your compensation? The answer is that you actually don’t have to do much at all (if you don’t want to) - today there is a number of free and user-friendly websites that can help you with not only understanding your rights but also securing compensation.

Let someone else take the fight

We’ve already mention ClaimCompass above. Another platform is AirHelp which has helped more than 13 million passengers to date. The company was founded in 2013 and has since then grown into the largest air passenger rights advocate in the world with operation in 30 countries, including the U.S. AirHelp fights for the average traveler who lack time and/or knowledge to stand up to the large airlines themselves.

It only takes a few minutes to submit a claim and it is totally free. First, you need to check if the airline actually owes you money. You do this by entering the details about your flight into AirHelp’s system, which then checks if you’re eligible for compensation. This is - believe it or not - the most “difficult” part of the process. If you’re entitled to compensation AirHelp will then manage your claim and if necessary, stand up to the airline in court. In other words; AirHelp does all the dirty work and all you have to do is sit back and relax. If it goes your way and AirHelp wins the case for you, they take a part of the compensation as commission. If they lose, they don’t charge you at all. And this is how most of the flight compensation companies operate.