Today’s busy world our time is precious. We have errands to run and plans to follow. Sadly, when it comes to traveling, there are many things that can ruin our day. Sometimes even a slight flight delay can cause serious inconvenience. Now think about what a complete flight cancellation can do!
We understand how valuable your time is. This is why it is our mission, here at Colibra, to give you all the information you need about your rights regarding flight cancellation compensation. We will tell you what you have to know in regards to filing a compensation claim, checking if you are eligible for one in the first place, and other details on the whole thing.
That being said, you have to know that airline companies would do their best to avoid giving you a compensation. They have made the entire process to work in their favor as much as possible. Because of that many compensation claim services have popped up, which supposedly make it easier for you to get some money back. However, things are more complicated than that. Let us walk you through the claim process so you can see for yourself!
How to Claim EU Flight Cancellation Compensation
Flight delays and cancellations have been a problem since the beginning of commercial air travel. For quite a long time you could not have done anything about them. Actually, in many parts of the world you still can’t. Fortunately, the European Union grasped the depth of the issue and in 2004 they issued EC 261. This is a regulation, which helps people get some compensation (up to €600) due to delays and cancellations. Some specifics do apply though.
Firstly, you have to act quickly. If your flight was cancelled, you should not wait too long before you claim compensation. You will see why in a bit. Secondly, you have to decide how to do it – on your own, or through a compensation claim service.
By going with a third party service you are essentially letting them claim the compensation on your behalf. If they succeed, they get a cut of the money, and you get the rest. While this may seem reasonable, in the end such companies are not doing anything you can’t do on your own.
The Flight Cancellation Compensation Process
The problem with flight cancellation compensation is not the claim itself. You can easily file it, personally, by writing to the airline. Just explain the situation and demand compensation. The issue comes afterwards. You may have to wait months for any real development, and you can still end up with nothing. Compensation claim services can do nothing about that – with them you will still wait. They only contact the company in your stead, which is what you end up paying them for.
This happens because there are certain specifics, which may render you ineligible for compensation. Third parties cannot make you more eligible, they just handle the claim. Thankfully, there is a better solution.
With the Colibra application, you can get instant compensation of €20+ the moment you learn your flight has been cancelled. You receive that whether you are eligible for compensation under EC 261 or not. Speaking of which, let us see what makes you eligible in the first place!
Are You Eligible for Flight Cancellation Compensation? – Know Your Flight Cancellation Compensation Rights
While EC 261 gives you the right to claim fair compensation due to flight delays and cancellations, it comes with some conditions.
The first thing that you need to do in order to get flight cancellation compensation is to gather some information. See, you are eligible for it only if the cancellation was the airline’s fault. If it was due to uncontrollable circumstances, you will not get anything.
Here comes the problem – how do you find out whose fault the cancellation is? It is not in the airline’s interest to give you that information. Honestly, it can be very difficult to figure that out. Although if you don’t, you may just end up wasting your time in pointless attempts to get compensation you are not eligible for. And that is not all.
Aside from it being the airline’s fault, there are a few other requirements that need to be met in order to get your flight cancellation compensation. Here are the details:
- The cancelation happened in the last three years
This is the easiest requirement to meet, because most people will not wait 3 years to file a claim. But maybe you have just learned about EC 261 and you had another cancelled flight a year ago, for example. The good news is that you can try to get flight delay compensation for it as well. There are still other requirements to meet though.
- They have not notified you 14 (or more) days in advance
If you have been planning your trip for months, yet you have been notified of the canceled flight two weeks prior to it, you are not eligible for compensation. Yes, it may have caused you great inconvenience, but the company won’t have to give you any money back, even if it’s their fault. You can only get compensated if they have notified you less than 2 weeks in advance.
- They have not found you an acceptable alternate flight or rerouting
Perhaps the airline has notified you only 7 to 13 days in advance. Yet, you are only eligible for flight cancellation compensation, if the company cannot find you an acceptable re-routing. If they notify you 7 to 13 days in advance, they can offer an alternate flight that either departs up to 2 hours earlier or that arrives up to 4 hours later than the original. In such situation they are not required to compensate you.
Even in the case of informing you less than 7 days in advance, you may still not get compensated. If the flight departs only 1 hour earlier or arrives no more than 2 hours later, you won’t get anything.
What Are Your Options If You Don’t Meet The Requirements?
If you want to spare yourself that trouble and just get some compensation instantly, you can use our Colibra app. With it you get compensated on the spot, no questions asked. We don’t have arbitrary rules, you just get some fair compensation. The only thing you have to do is give us the right to pursue the company on our terms. There is no waiting for a response, no wondering, no months of back and forth communication. You get the money and we take it from there!
But let’s say that you want to go forth with filing the claim. You may have even seen that many compensation services claim you can get €600 back, which sounds tempting. Unfortunately, getting that money is not guaranteed at all. In fact, you may be eligible for a much smaller amount, and that is predetermined. Below you can see what you can actually receive for your troubles.
What Are You Entitled To If Your Flight Is Cancelled? – What Are Your Flight Cancellation Passenger Rights
While the advertised €600 sound amazing, in most cases you cannot get that much money back. The amount you can receive in flight cancellation compensation is dependent on the travel distance and the delay length.
For flights within the EU with less than 1,500 km in travel distance, you are only eligible for €250 in compensation. This figure is obviously much smaller than the advertised.
For flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km in distance, you can get no more than €400. However, if the delay of the alternate flight (provided you had one) was not longer than 3 hours, you can only claim €200.
The only way you can get €600 in compensation is if the flight distance was more than 3,500 km (so it was overseas), and the caused delay was more than 4 hours. If it was less than 4 hours, you can only claim €300.
If all of this seems way too convoluted, you are not wrong. The whole process is made as confusing as possible, so that airlines can get away with not giving you any compensation. Up until recently they even denied flight cancellation compensation in case of a technical failure of the plane, on the grounds that it was not in the company’s control.
As you can see, Colibra makes things much easier. Yes, you get a smaller sum, but you get it without any headaches or further troubles.
Finally, there is one last thing you need to keep track of, if you want to get compensated on a cancelled or delayed flight – the airline’s registration state. Let’s see why!
Which Cancelled Flights Are Covered? – European Union Flight Cancellation Compensation
Naturally, the EU has no way of regulating countries outside its jurisdiction. That means that EC 261 only applies in certain situations and you can request flight cancellation compensation outside of very specific cases.
On top of all the eligibility requirements we have covered so far, there is also the registration state of the airline. Everything is fine for flights within the EU, regardless of where the company is registered. If the flight departure point is within the European Union, all companies have to issue compensations when all the other requirements are met.
In contrast, if you have been on a flight departing outside the EU but coming to the EU, you are eligible for compensation only if the company is registered with the Union. In any other case, they are not required to compensate you.
Lastly, if you are flying outside the EU, you will not get flight cancellation compensation under EC 261 regardless of the company’s country of registration. Now that you know all this, we can take one final look at how you should file your compensation claim.
How to Claim Compensation For Flight Cancellation
You have read all the requirements and hopefully understand all the specifics now. That means you are ready to file your claim. If you have decided to go with a third party company to do that for you, your wait begins and there is nothing else to do. However, if you are not willing to give up a decent chunk of your compensation for something you can do yourself, then here is how you can approach it.
Firstly, find the right place to contact the airline. They usually provide complaint forms on their websites so head there. Secondly, explain the situation succinctly. There is no need for unnecessary details. State the facts, make your claim and try to be as polite as possible. You may also want to mention that you know your rights and understand what fair compensation is.
You have to include any applicable documentation as well. That will just help your case. Apply your boarding pass, booking confirmations, baggage claim tickets, etc. After all of that is done, you just send your compensation claim. Then begins the wait with a chance of multiple back-and-forth emails.
Here at Colibra we understand how frustrating the entire process can be. It is made even worse by the fact that companies may refuse to hand out compensation even if you have met every requirement. That’s right – you may be eligible and still not get your deserved money. You can go to court, of course, but that means more time wasted, and likely a lot of resources.
You already know that all of that can be skipped by just choosing the easier way – our Colibra service. Download the app, scan your boarding pass, and solve your issues on the spot!
Frequently Asked Questions
This section will cover a lot of the information we have already talked about. You can use it as a reference whenever you have to deal with flight cancellations compensation claims.
Q: What flights are covered? A: All flights departing from EU and flights arriving in the EU only if a EU carrier.
Q: What is considered a cancelled flight eligible for compensation? A: Any EU flight, about which you have not been notified at least two weeks in advance. Further specifics do apply, so read through the article for more information.
Q: Am I eligible for compensation if the alternate flight is brought forward? A: Yes, if it is brought forward more than 2 hours (when notified 7 to 13 days in advance), or more than 1 hour (when notified less than 7 days in advance).
Q: How much can I claim for a canceled flight? A: The amount you can claim depends on many factors and can range from €125 to €600. Please, read the “What Are You Entitled To If Your Flight Is Cancelled? – What Are Your Air Passenger Rights” section for more information.
Q: What if I had connecting flights? A: You are eligible for compensation if the connecting flights are under one booking. All the EC 261 requirements apply here as well.
Q: What type of documents should I keep to claim compensation? A: Any document relevant to the flight can be of help. That includes boarding passes, booking compensations, baggage claim tickets, etc.
Q: How long after the cancellation can I claim? A: In the general case – 3 years. However, different EU countries have different rules and some allow you to claim flight cancellation compensation for up to 6 years, while others have just one year of limitation period. Note: The country of interest is the one where the carrier is headquartered, not the one, from which you are.
Q: What else am I entitled to under EC261 if my flight is cancelled? A: Full or partial refund of your ticket, together with a return flight (if applicable), alternative transport to your destination (may not be by plane), or another ticket to your destination at a later date. Additionally, you are entitled to right of care – if you are stuck at the airport, you have to be provided free meals and refreshments, and place to stay for longer delays. Furthermore, you can request additional reimbursement if the alternate flight has downgraded your seat.
Q: Can I seek even further compensation? A: Yes, but not under EC 261. You have to use other avenues to pursue the company, but that may be worth it, if you have missed a big business deal or something similar.