What is EU261 and why is it so important

Flight compensation Regulation or EU261/2004 (also known as EC261) compensation is a comprehensive European Union law which was passed in 2004 providing each passenger certain rights in the cases where a flight has been delayed or outright cancelled.

The Regulation was put in place to provide a legal incentive for airline companies to streamline their logistical processes and provide a better service.

What are your passenger’s rights – EU261 explained

According to EU261 rules, each European traveller regardless of their native country is a member of the economic EU or not, is entitled to a flight delay or cancellation compensation based on the distance of the flight and duration.

However, there are certain criteria which a passenger must meet in order to comply with the flight compensation regulation. A passenger must:

  • Have a valid ticket to a delayed flight;
  • They must have checked in correctly and properly;
  • The flight must be carried out by a European based air carrier or departing from Europe.

You are able to claim flight delay compensation in the instances where an airline is found to be at fault for the delay, meaning they could have but did not react on time. These cases involve but are not limited to:

  • Flight crew strike;
  • Mechanical difficulties;
  • Luggage and refuelling problems;
  • No plane available;
  • Bad scheduling, plain not at the gate on time.

Even with the comprehensive coverage of the EU261 regulation, it is quite difficult to prove that any of these have occurred or to have a legal claim on such circumstances.

While an airline is to provide information to passengers, they can also claim that “extraordinary circumstances” lead to the departure delay and they could not do anything within reason.

When is an airline excused from paying out flight delay or cancellation compensation

According to EU261 compensation rules, a European based airline can claim “extraordinary circumstances” as the reason for the delay, meaning that they are exempt from providing monetary compensation.

This does not mean, however, that they are not to provide a right of care (beverages, food or vouchers and even sleeping accommodations).

In cases where the delay is an overnight stay, airline companies are obliged to care for the comfort of their customers, even if they are not responsible for the delay – in let’s say the cases of blizzards and volcanic eruptions.

Click here to read more about your passenger rights.

Extraordinary circumstances

In the case of natural disasters and overall dangerous weather like a windstorm, a blizzard or any other atmospheric anomaly, an airline has the right to refuse boarding due to security concerns. There are other circumstances which fall under this category like:

  • Medical emergencies;
  • Civil or political unrest;
  • Airport staff strike;
  • Security concerns;
  • Bird collisions;
  • Denial from landing or departing;
  • Mechanical issues due to the manufacturer.

In the cases of a EU261 claim, if it is true, then an airline is not obliged to compensate you monetarily but should give you right of care.

How can you claim your EU261 mandated compensation with Colibra

The reason our flight compensation app even exists is that airlines are a pain to deal with, especially when you consider EU261 compensation because they can easily claim “extraordinary circumstances”.

So we created a community guided service which allows more than 1 million users around the EU to share the glory of hassle flight delay compensation.

Enjoy on-hand information about your departing time, and even if it’s 1 hour late to arrival, you get to enjoy compensation that no airline company would normally pay for. With us, it’s possible – simple and easy.