Law guide: Complaints and disputes

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Your rights: flight delays

Your rights: flight delays

Right to care

Your right to care depends on how long your flight has been delayed and the length of your journey, as set out in the following table:

Length of journeyLength of delay

1,500 km or less

2 hours

More than 1,500 km (flights between EU countries)

3 hours

1,500 km to 3,500 km (flights not within the EU)

3 hours

More than 3,500 km (flights not within the EU)

4 hours

If you qualify, you'll be entitled to a reasonable amount of food and drink (related to the waiting time) and 2 free telephone calls, emails, faxes or telex messages.

If the flight is expected to depart on a day after the original scheduled departure, you'll be entitled to free overnight accommodation and transport between the airport and the place of accommodation.

Longer delays

If a flight is delayed by 5 hours, you'll also be entitled to abandon your journey and get a full refund for all unused tickets, a refund on tickets already used if the flight no longer serves any purpose for your original travel plan, and, if relevant, a flight back to where you came from.

Compensation for delayed flights

An important court ruling has meant that if a flight is delayed by 3 or more hours, you'll also be entitled to claim compensation as if the flight was cancelled, unless the delay was outside of the airline's control due to extraordinary circumstances.

Extraordinary circumstances are those that couldn't have been avoided, such as bad weather conditions or security risks. This doesn't include technical problems that are normally associated with the aircraft. Problems with the flight crew not being available are also unlikely to count.

Even if the original scheduled flight was delayed by less than 3 hours, it doesn't necessarily mean you won't be compensated for the delay. What is relevant is the total time of the delay up to the time you arrive at your final destination. Therefore, if a delay has caused you to miss a connection, causing you 3 or more hours' delay in reaching your final destination, then you'll be entitled to compensation as if the flight was cancelled.

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