An All-Important Guide to what You are Entitled to when it Comes to Flight Delays

Any frequent traveler knows that what happens in an airport isn’t always done properly or according to schedule – and sometimes it’s the airline’s fault, whilst at other times it’s just something that happens (like weather conditions) and nobody can really do anything about it. However, few travelers understand that you may actually be entitled to compensation in some form or another if your delay could have been prevented. If your delay or the cancellation of the flight was due to maintenance or faulty equipment, to overbooking or under-booking, or any other reason within the airline’s control, they should pay for it. Here’s your all-important guide to what you are entitled to when it comes to flight delays.


Your right depends on the duration of the delay

To be clear, any delay under two hours is not really considered a delay – in legal terms. It’s also important to understand exactly what delay means; if your flight leaves with a three hour delay but takes an hour less than expected, the actual delay is only two hours. Furthermore, your time of arrival is considered the time when the plane opens its first door at the destination. In other words, the actual delay of the flight can only be determined after the actual flight.

Delay for two hours or more

If your flight is running a delay for more than 2 hours, you may be entitled to:

  • Food and drinks

  • Access to phone calls and emails

  • Accommodation if you need to stay overnight – as well as transportation to and from

Delay for three hours or more

If your flight is delayed for more than three hours, you are automatically entitled to all items above (delay of over two hours) as well as extra compensation if the airline is at fault of the delay. The extra compensation depends on the kind of flight you are scheduled to take. For example, for a flight of over 3,500 km, you can claim €600.

Delay for five hours or more

Did you know you can choose not to take the flight if there’s a five-hour Air delay or more, regardless of whose fault it is? And you are entitled to a full refund, too!

These rights for compensation are not just based on common sense – they’ve been written down and ruled on by the European Court of Justice. And if your flight is departing from the UK, EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland, or if your airline operates in these areas, they have to follow EU law. If that is the case, and if your airline could have prevented the delay, then there is no more excuse: you are entitled to proper compensation. Don’t let yourself be bullied and insist on your rights.

Image attributed to David Castillo Dominici/

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