Air Passenger Rights: Your Right Of Compensation

Delayed flight, cancelled flight, denied boarding, strikes? How do I get compensation? Here you will find everything you need to know about passenger rights.

In our brochure "Air passenger rights: travel smart!" you can find all the information you need about your passenger rights (concerning reservations, delays, cancellations, lost luggage, strikes and much more), how to assert your rights, and where to find help. In addition, this brochure provides a lot of advice and gives you helpful addresses. However, the information provided is not fully detailed in all areas and should be viewed as a guide, rather than a verbatim statement of the law.

Keep in mind!

  • If you encounter any problems during your flight, you may be entitled to certain rights. Ask your transport company for information.
  • In the case of flight delays or cancellations, ask the airline representatives at the airport for a written confirmation of this.
  • If you have unexpected expenses (food, communication, accommodation, transport, new tickets, first necessity goods etc.) ensure that you get a receipt for all your purchases and keep them in a safe place as they will act as proof later on.
  • If your luggage goes missing, do not leave the airport without informing the competent desk and getting a file number (called PIR: Property Irregularity Report).
  • Do not delay sending in a written complaint to the airline and asking for compensation - the sooner the better.

ECC-Net: Travel App

The mobile travel companion for Europe. In 25 languages, the application offers assistance in situations such as lost baggage, delayed flights, unavailable hotel room, return of damaged goods or car rental problems.

This free app is available

Changing or cancelling your flight

First of all, you should double-check which type of ticket you purchased. Depending on the tariff you chose, you will either be able to make changes to your ticket for free, for an additional fee or not at all. This depends on whether you bought a flexible or non-flexible ticket.

  • If you have a flexible ticket, contact the airline company or the travel agency as soon as possible. If you make your request a flight change or cancellation early enough, you might even be able to avoid the cancellation costs. In any case, read the airline’s terms and conditions to learn about the specific procedure for changing or cancelling your flight. Here, you will also be able to find out whether you will incur any fees during the flight change/cancellation process.
  • If you bought a non-flexible ticket, the company will not allow you to cancel or change your flight. This means that if you do not use your ticket for the specified flight, you will not be able to get a refund, except for the airport taxes.
  • Sometimes, airlines or travel agencies offer insurance that you can purchase with your ticket. If you decide to subscribe to such a service, read the terms  of the insurance policy carefully to see if it applies to your particular circumstance: not all the situations are covered (e.g: cancellation of a traineeship or holidays by your employer,…). 
  • Important! If you had planned to travel on board a non-regular flight (a “charter”) and if you need to cancel your journey, your ticket is not refundable and you will not be able to obtain any reimbursement -  unless you signed up for a cancellation insurance policy, which covers you in certain cases (illness, notably).
  • If the flight is part of a travel package (including other touristic services such as accommodation, you might be able to cancel your flight as long as you notify the airline within a certain period of time prior to your intended travel date (this varies, depending on the travel agencies’ conditions). It might even be possible for you to obtain a partial refund. You should double-check the terms and conditions of the travel agency to be sure.

Giving your ticket to another person

  • Transferring plane tickets is impossible unless the airline company explicitly states otherwise in their general terms and conditions. However, this is not usually the case or is limited to business and/or flexible tickets. Look into the specific conditions of your ticket to know whether changing the name on the ticket is possible.
  • If it is possible, you might be asked to pay additional charges for the change.
  • If the ticket was booked via a travel agency as part of a package travel, a transfer is always possible with extra charges; unless it is too close to the date of departure.

Strikes: What you need to know

According to EU regulation 261/2004, passengers have the right to claim reimbursement for the ticket or take an alternative flight if there is an airline strike. In either case, the airline is obligated to provide the passengers with information about the expected delay or cancellation and to offer additional support and, if necessary, an overnight stay.

To make sure that their flight is not affected by an ongoing or planned strike, passengers should contact the airline services. Furthermore, passengers should check their e-mail to see if the airline has sent any information (be sure to look in the spam or junk email folder as well).

In certain cases passengers are allowed to ask for a fixed-sum monetary compensation.

The airline can deny the compensation in the case of extraordinary circumstances (circumstances that exist outside of the airlines direct control and, therefore, circumstances in which the airline cannot be held responsible).

Strikes can be considered as extraordinary circumstances in certain instances. This is  namely the case if the persons on strike are not the airlines own personnel.   Nevertheless, passengers should always go to the airlines desk and ask for a confirmation of the cancellation or delay and the reason for it.

To obtain more proof, passengers can ask for the names of other passengers on the flight or even take a picture of the departure display screen showing the delayed/cancelled flight.

Aviation security: rules for liquids on places

In 2006 the European Commission has adopted a new regulation which limits the quantity of liquids passengers may carry on board: this measure has been put in place to prevent the risks linked to liquid explosives. The regulation only concerns the carry-on baggage and not the checked in luggage as it is unreachable during the flight.

Given the fact that a small quantity of liquid cannot constitute a dangerous explosive, the regulation limits the size of the liquid container to 100 milliliters each. All the containers must be placed in a 1 litre re-sealable transparent plastic bag. This limitation applies to all flights departing from and landing at an airport located in the EU, wherever the final destination may be and regardless of the passengers’ nationality.

These rules apply to all liquids (perfumes, toothpaste, etc…). Nevertheless, there is an exception for some liquids such as medicine (with prescription) and special dietetics products, i.e baby food.

Passengers are also authorized to buy liquids at airport shops (Duty Free) i.e drinks and perfumes. As of January 2014, the quantities bought and the place of purchase (airport within the EU or third country, with or without connection flights) are no longer subject to restrictions.

Rules at the security check-point

In order to facilitate security controls, passengers will have to respect the following rules at the security check-point:

  • All coats and jackets should be taken off
  • All laptops and other big electrical devices should be removed from carry-on luggage and placed in a separate container
  • Plastic bags carrying liquids should be placed in a separate container to the rest of the luggage.

European airline complaint forms

Airline complaint forms can be hard to find. To make the search easier for travelers, we have compiled a list of forms for selected European airlines. You can use these links to submit complaints regarding lost/damaged baggage or delayed/cancelled flights.