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Flight Cancellation & Compensation

An airline can cancel a flight for a number of reasons. Sometimes, problems like extreme weather or safety risks can create circumstances that lead to the airline pulling the plug on a flight.

Did you know that when an airline cancels your flight, you may be eligible to receive flight cancellation compensation? EU regulation, EC 261, gives passengers the right to be reimbursed for flight cancellation providing certain criteria are met.
If you qualify under the European Law EC 261, the airline is obligated to pay you a flight cancellation compensation of up to €600.

What Counts as a Flight Cancellation?

Interestingly, the EC261 originally considered only cancelled and overbooked flights eligible for compensation. Later, however, the European Court of Justice ruled that significant flight delays cause as much harm to the passengers as cancellations do and flight delays became eligible for compensation as well.

A flight cancellation involves two parties, (i) the airline and (ii) the passenger. The airline considers a flight as canceled if the plane never left the tarmac. The EC 261 defines a canceled flight as;

‘’The non-operation of a flight which was previously planned and on which at least one place was reserved.’’

As a passenger, You or someone on your behalf must have purchased a ticket for the flight in question.

Remember that a flight that takes off late, i.e. a delayed flight, is not a canceled flight. However, if certain criteria are met, the delayed flights are also viable for compensation up to €600. Lean more about compensation on flight delays

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Flight Canceled - Can I Get Compensation?

Under European Law EC 261, you are entitled to a monetary compensation for your canceled flight if:

The canceled flight should have been set to depart from the EU or, in case of EU-carriers; the canceled flight should have been either set to depart or to land to EU.

You need to have a confirmed reservation shown by a booking reservation (with information like the flight number, name of passenger etc.) of the flight. The idea is to tie together your identity and the identity of the flight in a verifiable manner.

The airline notifies you of the cancellation less than 14 days before the flight is set to depart.

Your flight is canceled by ordinary circumstances like ‘’technical difficulties’’ or ‘‘operational circumstances’’. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has multiple times stated that those don’t qualify as ‘‘extraordinary circumstances’’, which means the airline must still obey the EC 261 obligations and pay you your compensation.

-Under a recent ruling by the ECJ, internal strikes by flight staff do not constitute as ‘’extraordinary circumstances’’.

Reimbursement, Re-routing & Compensation

According to European Law EC 261, when a flight is canceled, you should be offered the choice between:

1) Reimbursement within seven days of the full cost of the ticket at the same price it was originally bought and -if relevant in your case- a return flight to the first point of departure.

Or

2) Re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to the final destination at the earliest opportunity.

3) Re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to the final destination at a later date.

Reimbursement and re-routing are separate issues from compensation.

Time Sensitivity
If the airline notifies you of the cancellation less than 14 days departure, you can be entitled to the EC 261 compensation.

Free Perks
When you’re stuck waiting for the airline to get you back on track, you’re entitled to a number of free perks, depending on your flight details.

The carrier must provide you with:
1) meals,
2) refreshments during the delay as well as access to
3) communications, including two telephone calls, telefax or fax messages, and emails.

Stranded Overnight?
If you are stuck at the point of departure between 2200 and 0600 hours (10 PM to 6 AM), you are also entitled to overnight accommodation (e.g. a hotel room), the airline must provide you with means of transportation (e.g. a taxi) to the hotel and with means of transportation back to the airport.
Should the airline fail to provide you these remedies, you can claim these expenses from the airline. Keep in mind you need to against saved

Upgrading and downgrading

If you’re offered an alternative flight and along the way upgraded to better conditions, the airline does not have the right to charge extra from you for upgrading your conditions.
On the other hand, if you’re downgraded, you’re entitled to additional reimbursement of 30 – 75% of the price that you paid for the ticket initially.

Cancellation Compensation Under Different Conditions

Your right to be compensated under EC261 varies depending on the conditions under which the cancellation happened.

We’ve listed multiple scenarios below that are based on EC261 and respective court rulings. You’ll find that not all circumstances are equal.

Notice of cancellation given 14 or more days in advance

Providing the airline informed passengers of the flight cancellation 14 days or more in advance. In this case there are no grounds for the EC 261 compensation.

Extraordinary circumstances

An airline can avoid liability if the flight disruption is caused by ‘’extraordinary circumstances’’.

The regulations in EC 261 state that in case of ‘’extraordinary circumstances’’ affecting the delay, the airline is freed from all responsibility regarding EC 261 compensation.

The European Court of Justice has defined extraordinary circumstances as something that is completely beyond control of the airline: circumstances that could have not been avoided even if all reasonable actions were taken.

Extraordinary circumstances are circumstances such as severe weather conditions, lightning strikes, volcano eruptions, medical emergencies, air traffic control strikes, airport employee strikes, air traffic control restrictions, sudden malfunctioning of the airport radar, political unrest…

Snow – not necessarily

Snow doesn’t necessarily count as extraordinary circumstances. It depends on both how normal it is to have snowy conditions at the airport as well as whether the airline could’ve prevented it or not.
Whether other flights were able to depart around the same time, can also be used in evaluating how extraordinary the snowing was: If other flights were able to take off, then chances are your flight could also have taken off.

Airline’s strike

Under a recent ruling by the ECJ, internal strikes by flight staff do not constitute as ‘’extraordinary circumstances’’.

Therefore, airlines must now compensate air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, when an airline strike is to blame.

Flying free of charge?

Passengers traveling free of charge (e.g. air hostess) or with a ticket at a reduced fare that is not directly or indirectly available to the public are not eligible to flight cancellation compensation.

Note: This doesn’t mean that a person traveling with a ticket purchased by someone else (a corporation or a public institute) is not eligible for compensation!

Only people who do not have to pay for the traveling fee at all by anyone are outside the compensation legislation.

What to Do When a Flight is Canceled

If you’re going to file a compensation claim under EC 261, expect resistance from the airline in question. Just because they need to comply with the European Law doesn’t mean they won’t try to get out of their responsibility to pay you the compensation.
If you’re traveling to or from the European Union, here’s what to do when you experience a flight disruption:

When your flight is canceled, remember to:

Hold onto your boarding pass and any other travel documents. The more document you save the better!

Ask from the staff why the flight was delayed.

Gather proof of delay (for example photos of the departure board or communications from the airline confirming the disruption).

Ask the airline to pay for your meals and refreshments.

Don’t sign anything that causes you to waive your rights for compensation.

Wait the incident out or call the flight off if your delay is more than five hours.

If needed, get the airline to provide you with a hotel room.

Keep your receipts if your delayed flight ends up costing you extra money.

When Are Passengers Not Eligible For EC 261 Flight Cancellation Compensation?

In some cases of flight cancellation, the passengers are not entitled to the compensation decreed by EC 261.

Advance Warning

Providing the airline informed passengers of the flight cancellation 14 days or more in advance. In this case there are no grounds for the EC 261 compensation.

Extraordinary Circumstances

An airline can avoid liability if the delay is caused by ‘’extraordinary circumstances’’.

The regulations in EC 261 state that in case of ‘’extraordinary circumstances’’ affecting the delay, the airline is freed from all responsibility regarding EC 261 compensation.

Extraordinary circumstances are circumstances such as severe weather conditions, lightning strikes, medical emergencies, air traffic control strikes, airport employee strikes or air traffic control strikes, air traffic control restrictions, sudden malfunctioning of the airport radar, political unrest…

Free of Charge

Passengers traveling free of charge (e.g. air hostess) or at a reduced fare not available directly, or indirectly to the public are not eligible to flight cancellation compensation.

However! This doesn’t mean that a person traveling with a ticket purchased by someone else (a corporation or a public institute) is not eligible for compensation! Only people who do not have to pay for the traveling fee at all by anyone are outside the compensation legislation.

Some circumstances aren’t as straightforward, such as..

Snowing At The Airport

It depends on whether the airline could’ve prevented it or not. A good heuristic is to observe the other flights leaving around the same time. If they were able to take off, then chances are the airline could’ve done something to guarantee a timely departure.

Airline Strikes Do Not Fall Under Extraordinary Circumstances

Under a recent ruling by the ECJ, internal strikes by flight staff do not constitute as ‘’extraordinary circumstances’’.

Therefore, airlines must now compensate air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, when an airline strike is to blame.

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How to File a Flight Compensation Claim For Flight Cancellation?

Are you entitled to a claim?

Let Inspecto enforce your rights.

We can verify quickly whether you’re eligible for compensation or not.
We will handle the whole legal process with the airline and update you every step of the way.

There’s no risk. Our fee is 100% success-based. It will only be applied if we are successful in the claiming process and you get paid.

After a successful claim we will send you money to the bank account of your choosing.

How Is Flight Cancellation Compensation Calculated?

The amount of compensation you would receive under the EC 261 depends on three factors:

1) Travel distance.

2) Whether or not your flight was within the EU.

3) The length of the delay if you accept re-routing on another flight.

I Have a Connecting Flight – is the Whole Journey Eligible?

If you have just one flight, travel distance and whether the flight is inside the EU or with EU and outside country, are factors when determining how much money you are eligible for. In case of a multi-flight trip, it’s possible that only part of it will be calculated into your compensation.

For full compensation, your journey must meet a couple of conditions:

-The flights must’ve been purchased as one single trip from origin to destination.

-Your flight disruption must be under the EC 261.

If one airline causes an issue, it will usually be responsible for all of its own flights, even if they came before the disruption, as well as any later flights that are affected as the result of their disruption, even if they are with an entirely different airline.

The quickest way to check your eligibility is by pressing below:

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Flight Canceled, Now What?

-Hold onto your boarding pass and any other travel documents. The more document you save the better!

-Ask from the staff why the flight was delayed.

-Gather proof of delay (for example photos of the departure board or communications from the airline confirming the disruption).

-Ask the airline to pay for your meals and refreshments.

-Don’t sign anything that causes you to waive your rights for compensation.

-Wait the incident out or call the flight off if your delay is more than five hours.

-If needed, get the airline to provide you with a hotel room.

-Keep your receipts if your delayed flight ends up costing you extra money.

Can You Get Money Back From Canceling A Flight?

When you decide not to board a flight you’ve booked, the terms and conditions of the airline decide what you may be entitled to.

In some instances, when you cancel your flight you may be entitled to a full refund. In other instances, you are entitled to the fees and taxes alone. Each airline has its own procedures for this.

Is There a Time Limit to File My Claim?

Your right to compensation under EC 261 does eventually expire, so it’s important to know the Statue of Limitations for your claim.

This varies between different countries and is determined by where the HQ of the airline is or what court has jurisdiction in cases concerning the airline.

In general, the time limit is three years but in certain countries it may be even more.

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