EU Regulation 261/2004
European Union Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, commonly referred to as EU 261, establishes fundamental rights for passengers when they are affected by involuntary denied boarding, flight cancellations, flight delays and missed connecting flights, in particularly.

Which flights fall under EU 261?

European Union passenger rights apply when a flight:

  • is within the EU and is operated either by an EU or a non-EU airline
  • arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline
  • departs from the EU to a non-EU country  and is operated by an EU or a non-EU airline

The term "EU" encompasses the 27 European Union countries, including regions like Guadeloupe, French Guiana, and others, but excluding the Faeroe Islands. EU 261 is applicable to flights involving Norway and Switzerland.

Route / AirlineThe airline is from EUThe airline is not from EU
From outside EU to outside EUNoNo
From outside EU to EUYesNo
From EU to outside EUYesYes
From EU to EUYesYes

Travelling from the UK to an EU country

From 1 January 2021, EU rules on air passenger rights do not apply to cases of denied boarding, cancellations, or delays to flights from the UK to the EU if the flight was operated by a UK or non-EU airline, even if the passenger booked the flight before this date. However, EU rules continue to apply from 1 January 2021 if the flight from the UK to the EU was operated by an EU airline unless the passenger has already received compensation or benefits under UK law.

Obligations on operating airlines should be limited or excluded in cases where an event has been caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Such circumstances may, in particular, occur in cases of political instability, meteorological conditions, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings, and strikes that affect the operation of an operating airline.

Cancelled flight compensation EU

In the event of flight cancellation, passengers are entitled to assistance at the airport and to choose one of the options:

  • reimbursement
  • re-routing
  • return

Under EU law cancelled flight compensation is also due if the cancellation notice is given less than 14 days before the scheduled departure, unless the airline can prove the cancellation resulted from unavoidable extraordinary circumstances.

European rules on delayed flights

For the flights delayed at departure, passengers have the right to assistance, reimbursement and a return flight, depending on the delay duration and flight distance.

A delay of over 3 hours upon arrival at the final destination entitles passengers to compensation unless the delay is due to extraordinary circumstances.

Compensation for denied boarding

Passengers who are involuntarily denied boarding due to overbooking or operational reasons, despite timely check-in and valid documentation, are entitled to:

  • compensation
  • the right to choose between reimbursement, re-routing, or rebooking at a later stage and
  • assistance

Missed connecting flights

Connecting flights are journeys where the passenger has to take more than one flight to get to their final destination. If the passenger misses a connecting flight and arrives at their final destination with a delay of more than 3 hours, the passenger is entitled to compensation. This compensation is calculated according to the length of the delay and the distance to their final destination and might be due if:

  • the flights were booked under a single reservation and
  • EU air passenger rights apply and
  • the delay was not caused by extraordinary circumstances

Compensation does not apply for missed connections due to security delays or non-compliance with boarding time.

Compensation amounts

EU 261 sets different compensation amounts based on the flight distance:

  • €250 for all flights of up to 1 500 km
  • €400 for flights between 1 500 and 3 500 km outside the EU and EU flights of over 1 500 km
  • €600 for the rest of the flights

If the airline has offered a passenger a re-routing and they reached the final destination with a delay of 2, 3 or 4 hours, the compensation may be reduced by 50%.


When eligible for assistance passengers must be offered free of charge:

  • meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time
  • hotel accommodation in cases where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary
  • transport between the airport and the place of accommodation (hotel or other)

Check your compensation in case you have experienced a disruption of an EU flight:

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