Charter Flight Compensation: A Complete Guide

Overbooked flights, long delays and cancellations have two things in common:

  1. They can be incredibly frustrating.
  2. According to EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers can claim compensation of up to €600.


The eligibility conditions for each of these vary with the type of disruption. But the flights to which they apply do not.

You could be entitled to compensation, regardless of whether your flight was a scheduled regular service or not. As with other flights, you can claim charter flight compensation for up to €600.


And SkyRefund can help you claim what is rightfully yours. You only need to submit your flight details. Our legal team will then do everything to ensure you receive your airline reimbursement.



What is the difference between chartered and scheduled flights?

Certainly not the eligibility for flight compensation. In recent years, the conceptual gap between chartered flights and regular scheduled ones has narrowed.

Stereotypically chartered flights are associated with big families going on tropical package holidays, wearing big hats on their heads. The stereotype for scheduled commercial flights complements it: on these latter flights, passengers are often thought of as well-dressed business people flying somewhere to seal another deal. Potentially even getting some stuff done on their laptop en route, even if the flight is just an hour long.


But civil aviation has changed dramatically over the years and if these stereotypes were once true, they no longer hold.


Today, all that they signify is a difference in business risk. On a charter flight, all tickets are bought and then resold by a third party (usually-- a travel agency). Making a profit on the purchased flight is now the tour operator’s risk.


Regular flights, on the other hand, remain a business risk for the airlines that operate them. The expenses that will go into an empty flight and an (over)booked flight will be roughly the same. The more tickets the airline sells, the closer it comes to making a profit, despite the huge financial cost of a commercial flight.


Apart from a few small details, that may include the luggage restrictions on a flight, passengers may or may not be able to tell the difference between the two types of flights.

Your Rights to Charter Flight Compensation


Like scheduled flights, all charter flights are covered by EU Regulation 2004 (EC261). Under its provisions, air passengers are entitled to compensation for the flight delays, cancellations or their cases of denied boarding.


Compensation eligibility for all of these disruptions depends on whether one of the following conditions is met:

  • Your flight departed from an EU airport or
  • Your flight was operated by an airline, registered in the EU


Is my flight eligible?


Let’s take an example from scheduled flights. If you are on a Lufthansa flight, you would always be covered by EC261, regardless of whether you depart from a European airport or not.

Conversely, if you are flying on a non-EU airline, you would only be entitled to compensation if the flight departs from a European airport. In other words, if you are flying on an American Airlines flight, your right to compensation will depend on the flight’s origin. If it departs from somewhere in the US, for example, the flight would not be eligible for charter compensation.


A version of EC261 is applied in all EU member-states and a few non-EU countries including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland, and Serbia.


How much compensation can you claim for your chartered flight disruption?

The reimbursement amount you can receive will vary with the distance of your flight, not with the increase in the delay to your arrival time. Longer trips are undertaken less regularly. And while all trips are important, it usually takes something special to travel longer distances.

Since a delay or cancellation to a longer flight would likely interfere with that special travel occasion, the flight compensation on longer trips is almost double that of shorter ones.

If your trip was shorter than 1,500 km, you could be eligible for €250 in compensation. If the flight distance is between 1,500 and 3,500 km, passengers would be entitled to €400 as charter flight compensation. This is also the maximum amount that passengers can claim for trips originating and terminating in the European Union (e.g. Athens-Ponta Delgada).

Finally, flight delays and cancellations on trips longer than 3,500 km could bring passengers compensation of up to €600!

Claim Charter Flight Delay Compensation

Passengers would be eligible for compensation for their delayed charter flights if the following conditions are met:

  • Your flight arrived with a delay of over three hours.
  • The delay was not a result of any extraordinary circumstances. 


Check Compensation


Departing three hours late would necessarily mean that you are entitled to compensation. It is the time of arrival that determines refund eligibility. In some rare cases, flights that depart with a delay of over 3 hours will make-up for the delay in-flight. As a result, passengers onboard would not be entitled to compensation.

The delay duration is determined by the difference between the actual time of arrival and the expected time of arrival. Simply put, if your flight arrived with more than a three delay, you could be entitled to compensation.

As mentioned above, longer charter flight delays do not result in bigger compensation amounts.

Most of the time, the amount of your compensation will be determined solely by the distance of your journey. The only exception is for flights longer than 3,500 km. If you are on such a flight and you arrive at your final destination with an overall delay between 3 and 4 hours, your compensation amount will be reduced in half-- to €300.


Extraordinary Circumstances

The second important condition for charter delay compensation is that there were no extraordinary circumstances surrounding the flight. This legal term encompasses all the possible causes of a delay which cannot be helped by the airline.

The most common examples of extraordinary circumstances include:

  • Bad Weather
  • Air Traffic Control Strike
  • Hidden Manufacturing Defects
  • Bird Strikes
  • Medical Emergencies
  • Security Risks
  • Political or Civil Unrest


The rationale is that if an airline cannot possibly mitigate the reason for a flight delay or cancellation, it should not be held liable for the disruption it causes. And it should not be made to pay compensation for the problem charter flight.

But there are plenty of cases in which what could seem as extraordinary is, in truth, part of the normal aircraft operations.

For example, air carriers often try to explain away a flight delay by claiming technical faults. Mechanical defects, however, are not exceptional; wear and tear is part of an aircraft’s normal lifetime. What is more, it is the airline’s responsibility to monitor their fleet and address any technical issues that may arise. That is why if your charter flight was cancelled or delayed due to a mechanical fault, you would be eligible for compensation.

Moreover, after a 2018 ruling of the European Court of Justice, not all strikes are seen as extraordinary circumstances. Wildcat strikes (unannounced airline strikes that follow a restructuring of the company) are seen as the airline management’s responsibility to avoid.


As long as your chartered flight was delayed by more than 3 hours and the delay was in the hands of the airline to abate, you are eligible for compensation of up to €600.


Is my flight eligible?


Unfortunately, airlines often blame the weather or various technical issues for the disruptions of their flights. In these cases, the national enforcement body will decide if the airline’s claims are true and if you are entitled to compensation for your charter’s delay.


Charter Flight Cancellation: Your Rights

If your chartered flight was cancelled, you may be entitled to compensation too. But since cancellations and delays are different things, the eligibility criteria for cancelled flights differ slightly.


The main point of difference lies in the timeframe in which you were informed of the flight’s cancellation. There are three options.

  1. You were informed of the cancellation between 7 and 14 days before the flight’s departure. In this case, you can claim compensation for your cancelled charter if you arrived 4 hours behind schedule.
  2. You were informed of the disruption less than a week before the flight. You will be eligible for compensation if you arrive 2 hours late.
  3. You were informed more than 2 weeks before the flight. In this case, despite the inconvenience, you would not have a legal basis for a claim.


Most flights are cancelled on the day of their departure. If this is what happened to you, as long as you arrive at your final destination more than 2 hours late you can claim compensation. The only additional condition is that no extraordinary circumstances were present.


Check My Flight


Regardless of whether you are entitled to charter flight compensation for your cancellation, you have a right to one of the following:

  • A full refund of your ticket
  • An alternate flight to your final destination. You can choose to fly out as soon as possible or at a later date.


As with flight delays, no extraordinary circumstances should be present in order to claim compensation.

Denied Boarding Compensation

EC261 entitles passengers who have been involuntarily denied boarding to compensation. The compensation amount is determined in the same way as for delay and cancellations.

Regulation EC261 defines denied boarding as the airline’s refusal to board passengers who:

  • Have presented themselves to the gate on time
  • Do not present a security or safety risk
  • Present all of the required travel documents

If the passenger does not complete these three requirements before the flight, she would likely be denied boarding and would not be eligible for compensation.


On scheduled flights, boarding refusals most commonly occur due to overbooking. This is much less likely to happen on charter flights.

But if it occurs, you would be eligible for charter flight compensation.


Is my flight eligible?


Right To Assistance

Passengers who have had a problem flight are entitled to food, drinks and accommodation for the duration of the disruption.

This right is retained even if passengers are not entitled to flight compensation for their charters. This means that even if the reason for the delay or cancellation is bad weather or a strike, passengers can have their expenses covered by the airline for the period before their departure.

Right to Food

Passengers’ expenses for food and refreshments should be covered by the airline while they wait for their delayed or cancelled flight to depart. The airline would usually provide them with a food voucher that they can use at the airport.

Unfortunately, airlines are not required to give you a voucher immediately after the disruption is announced. Your right kicks in after a certain period elapses. The duration of this period depends on your charter flight distance.

For flights shorter than 1,500 km, passengers can ask for one after the second hour of flight delay. For flights spanning between 1,500 and 3,500 km the wait period will be 3 hours. Finally, for flight distances greater than 3,500 km, you can approach the airline’s representatives and ask for a voucher after the fourth hour.


To find out what your flight distance is, you have to calculate it by the great circle mapper method.


Good news: if the airline does not provide you with a voucher after the appropriate duration, you can take matters into your own hands and purchase all of your necessary meals and refreshments. As long as you keep your receipts, the airline is required to provide you with a full refund for your expenditures.


Right to Accommodation

The airline is required to provide you with accommodation if, as a result of your cancelled flight, your departure is pushed to the following day.

In addition to a hotel room for the night, your air carrier should also provide you with transportation between the airport and the hotel and back.