EU air passenger rights apply to all flights either departing from any airport situated in the EU, or arriving in the EU with an EU carrier or one from Iceland, Norway or Switzerland.
When buying a ticket, you may not be charged a higher price because of your nationality or where you are buying the ticket from. When booking online, the total price (including air fare, taxes, fees and charges) must always be clearly displayed, so that passengers can compare prices across airlines and make an informed choice.
Denied boarding, delay or cancellation
If you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled or overbooked, you have a choice between re-routing or a refund. In case of long (at least 5 hours) delays, you are also entitled to a refund. A refund, where relevant, includes a free journey back to the initial departure point. Re-routing should be offered under comparable travel conditions at the earliest opportunity, or rebooking at a later date of your convenience at no extra cost. In some cases (depending on flight distance and length of delay), you may be entitled to additional assistance such as meals and refreshments, access to communication (e.g. a free phone call) and, if necessary, accommodation.
In addition, you may be entitled to a financial compensation of between €250 and €600 – depending on flight distance and length of delay – if you are denied boarding, if the flight was cancelled or if it arrives more than 3 hours late at the final destination. With cancelled flights, there will be no compensation if the cancellation is due to extraordinary circumstances (e.g. bad weather), if you were informed at least 2 weeks beforehand or if the carrier offered you an alternative flight with a similar schedule.
Liability towards passenger and luggage
In case of lost, damaged or delayed luggage, the airline may be obliged to compensate you. Airlines can also, under certain circumstances, be held liable for injury or death resulting from an accident.
If you are not satisfied with how your rights have been applied, you should first contact the airline or airport, and submit to them an air passenger rights EU complaint form. If you are not satisfied with their response, you can lodge a complaint with the National Enforcement Body in your country of residence.
For more information and advice on your rights and how you can get a refund or compensation, visit the ‘Your Europe’ passenger rights website. Relevant legislation, case law and studies relating to air passenger rights can be found here.
The new interactive content on air passenger rights is online since December 2016. This new content takes into account the interpretative guidelines on air passenger rights adopted in June 2016 and the new format will allow passengers to find the information they need more easily in case of a travel disruption.
Update (9-3-2017): The European Commission has published new information explaining to all travellers the role of claim agencies (business offering to claim compensation for disrupted travel on behalf of the passenger) for air passenger rights. For detailed legal information, visit the EU webpage.