Note: This applies only to airline companies incorporated in the European Union which flies inside or outside EU.

You have prepared your vacation or your business trip carefully. You bought your flight ticket(s) and you are ready for flying with the best airline company you think.

Except, even the best airline company can have delays sometimes. Most of the delays are outside the company’s control (ice, storms, an overcrowded airport, a moody traveler). But some delays are actually company’s fault (a bad engine, a faulty spare part which took too long to be replaced, overbooking, etc).

Airlines sometimes delay flights

Now, if that airline company is based in the European Union (means, it is incorporated in the European Union – it can have flights everywhere) it has to obey to a regulation called “Flight Delay Compensation Regulation” (EC) No 261/2004  entered in effect in 2005.

The Flight Delay Compensation Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 is a regulation establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays of flights. It sets out the entitlements of air passengers when a flight that they intend to travel on is delayed or cancelled, or when they are denied boarding to such a flight due to overbooking, or when the airline is unable to accommodate them in the class they had booked.

As the Wikipedia website explains simpler…

The regulation applies to any passenger:
– departing from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies;
The protection accorded to passengers departing from or to an airport located in a Member State should be extended to those leaving an airport located in a third country for one situated in a Member State, when a Community carrier operates the flight and where a community carrier is defined as any carrier licensed to operate within that community.
– departing from an EU member state, or
– travelling to an EU member state on an airline based in an EU member state

if that person has:
– a confirmed reservation on the flight, and
– arrived in time for check-in as indicated on the ticket or communication from the airline, or, if no time is so indicated, no less than 45 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of the flight

or
– have been transferred from the flight for which he/she held a reservation to some other flight

unless
– the passenger is travelling on a free or discounted ticket not available to the general public, other than a ticket obtained from a frequent flyer programme.

You can also find explanations on the European Union Europa.eu website here  and the full regulation here.

Your airline must inform you about your rights and the reason for being denied boarding, or any cancellations or long delays (over 2 hours, although this may be up to 4 hours for flights in excess of 3500 Km). If your flight is delayed by 5 hours or more, you are also entitled to a refund.

The compensations are:
Within the EU
– 1,500 km or less – $290 (€250)
– over 1,500 km – $464 (€400)

Between EU airport and non-EU airport
– 932 mi (1,500 km) or less – $290 (€250)
– 932-2175 mi (1,500-3,500 km) – $464 (€400)
– over 2175 mi (3,500 km) – $696 (€600)

*an even better explanation is here 

If this happened to you (airlines sometimes tries to “bribe” you with a $20-$30 food voucher – don’t take it) then you have two choices here: either take this matter in your hands by filling out the official form to the airline or get a third party to handle all the hassle.

If you do it yourself you have to know that the airline companies are notorius slow responders (take weeks or months to get back to you) or no responders at all. So you have to be prepared for this. You have to follow through and, if they don’t respond, you have to you can complain to the national enforcement body in the EU country where the incident took place (that happens also if you are not satisfied with their response).
Or, if the incident happened at an airport of departure outside the EU but involved an EU airline, you can send a complaint to the relevant national enforcement body in the EU country you were travelling to.

Too much to deal with for busy people.

The second option is to get a third party to handle this and one company which does this is …

Airhelp

You only have to fill out their form for free (which takes about 3 minutes to do so) and that’s it. The rest is their job. they will “fight” with the airline for your money. They will keep you posted, by email, with updated about your claim so you are always in the loop.
Airhelp gets you money back from airlines
Of course, they will keep a fee for this service if they succed (which is 20% of the amount). If they not, then you pay nothing.

If you want to find out more about AirHelp then watch this video:

Or head on their website.

*Disclosure: TravelGeni doesn’t have any connections with Airhelp. We don’t get paid to recommend their services. We genuinely think they provide a useful service to the busy traveler.
We will recommend, from time to time, services which we think are useful for travelers and if we ever get paid for this (advertorial) we will say that upfront.

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