Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

EU upholds right to compensation for flight delays

Airlines must pay out for delays

Delayed flights

EU law means you can claim compensation for flight delays of three hours or more

Consumers’ rights to compensation for airline delays has been confirmed by the European Court of Justice in a decision that means passengers are due payments worth millions of pounds.

The court held that European law governing passengers’ flight rights does mean that passengers whose flights are delayed by three hours or more are entitled to claim compensation.

Passengers are entitled to claim between €250 and €600 from airlines, depending on the length of the flight. Find out full details of your rights.

Delays and cancellations

The court dismissed arguments by British Airways, EasyJet, Tui Travel, and Lufthansa that compensation should only be payable when a flight is cancelled.

Claims from UK passengers have been on hold since the airlines disputed their liability for delays in 2009.

The ruling – which is binding on all EU member states – means that those claims must now be dealt with and airlines should no longer argue they do not have to pay compensation for long delays.  

Flight delay compensation

However, the court also confirmed that airlines would not have to pay if they successfully argued the delay was the result of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as strikes or weather.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: ‘This welcome decision by the European Court of Justice confirms that airlines should compensate passengers whose flights are delayed by three hours or more, unless the delay is beyond the airline’s control, in addition to those who have had their flight cancelled. 

‘In future we expect airlines to play fair and give passengers the compensation to which they are entitled.”

More on this…

  • Make sure you know your airline and airport rights  
  • Find out all your travel rights   
  • For advice, recommendations and inspiration, subscribe to Which? Travel
Back to top