Your Passenger Rights: Flight Cancellation Compensation

The discomfort caused by a flight cancellation may be unavoidable. However, according to EU Regulation 261/04, you may be entitled to compensation of up to €600 for your troubles as well as to reimbursement for the price of your journey or re-routing to your final destination.

The Difference between Flight Cancellations and Flight Delays

It is important to remember that a flight cancellation is not the same as a flight delay. A flight is considered delayed when a given service departs under the same flight number but at a later time.

For example, if a British Airways service with a flight number BA890 departs three or more hours late but under the same number, you would eligible to file a claim for flight delay compensation.

Cancelled flights, on the other hand, do not depart and its passengers are usually rerouted through alternate flights which bear different flight numbers.

Thus, in this case, the same BA890 flight would not leave the airport runway and instead, its passengers would be rerouted to alternate flights such as Ryanair’s FR9967 or easyJet’s EZY8973.

What Determines Your Eligibility for Compensation for Your Cancelled Flight

To be eligible for compensation under EU Regulation 261/04, your flight needs to be operated by an EU-based airline or to have been scheduled to depart from inside the European Union.

The sections of Regulation 261/04 that pertain to flight cancellations are also applied in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland.

The second most important factor which determines compensation eligibility is whether the airline notified you of the flight cancellation within a reasonable timeframe.

If the airline informs you of the cancellation more than 14 days in advance, it would avoid compensation payment, but it would nevertheless be required to provide rerouting or a refund of your ticket. In addition, if you are provided with an alternate flight which departs and lands within a reasonable timeframe compared to the cancelled flight, the airline would not be required to provide you with compensation.

The following table summarizes the conditions under which airlines are released from having to pay cancellation compensation:

Notice Given

Alternate Flight Requirements
14 Days


7-13 Days

Departs no more than two hours before schedule or arrives no more than four hours after schedule

Less than 7 Days

Departs no more than one hour before schedule or arrives no more than two hours after schedule

It is important to keep in mind that while you may not be eligible for compensation if the airline informs you of the flight cancellation more than 14 days before your scheduled flight, you still have the right to a refund or rerouting.

What Determines the Amount of Flight Cancellation Compensation?

If you accept the airline’s rerouting offer, the amount of compensation you are entitled to would be determined by the length of your journey. If your flight does not exceed 1500 km, you are entitled to €250 in cancellation compensation. This amount increases to €400 for all other intra-EU flights and all other flights between 1500 and 3500 km. Finally, your compensation would further rise to €600 if the length of your journey exceeds 3500 km, and if you either flew on an EU-registered airline or from an EU airport. Our website provides a quick and easy way for you to check your flight cancellation compensation free of charge.

Flight Destination & Distance

All flights up to 1500 km


All EU flights over 1500 km


All non-EU* flights between 1500 and 3500 km


All non-EU* flights over 3500 km


* Please note: EU Regulation 261/04, which establishes the requirements for flight cancellation compensation applies to all EU countries as well as to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Norway, Switzerland and Serbia.

Flight Cancellation: You Are Always Entitled to Rerouting or a Ticket Refund

The good news is that in the case of a flight cancellation, in addition to compensation, airlines are invariably required to provide their passengers with either:

  1. An alternate flight to their final destination at the earliest opportunity as well as reimbursement for the passengers’ hotel and food expenses
  2. A refund for the full cost of the booking as well as a return ticket to their original destination in case the flight cancellation occurred after the first leg of the passenger’s journey

It doesn’t matter if your cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances or airline negligence: if your flight is cancelled, passengers are always entitled to either an alternate flight or a reimbursement for their journey.

The good news about these alternate flights is that if the airline provides you with a ticket to a higher class than the one you had booked on your original flight, you would not be required to pay the difference. In addition, if you are seated in a lower class, you could be entitled to reimbursement for the price of your original ticket.

Check Compensation!

Extraordinary Circumstances

Airlines are required to pay out flight cancellation compensation only when the avoidance of the cancellation was within their powers. Therefore, when the reason for the cancelled flight is bad weather, bird strikes, air traffic control restrictions, strikes of the airport personnel or civil or political unrest, among others, the responsibility for the cancellation does not lie with the airline. In these cases, they need not compensate their passengers.

Technical issues, however, are usually not considered “extraordinary circumstances” as they are within the airline’s responsibilities and capacities to avoid, prevent and solve. In addition, after a recent ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union, strikes of the airline personnel, following company restructuring, are also not treated as extraordinary circumstances. If you have experienced a flight cancellation for the latter two reasons, you are entitled to compensation for your cancelled flight.

It is important to keep in mind that even in the event of extraordinary circumstances, passengers still have the right to rerouting or reimbursement as well as accommodation, food and drinks.

SkyRefund’s Expert Advice

  1. In the event of a cancelled flight, try to contact the airline—either by phone or at their desk— as soon as possible and ask for a reroute. This can greatly improve your chances of finding an alternate flight within the smallest timeframe. In addition, remember to ask the airline representative about the necessary steps to reclaim your baggage.
  2. Since the timeframe in which the airline informs its passengers of the cancellation is critical to your right to compensation, we would advise you to keep a record of when you were notified.
  3. Keep your boarding pass and booking confirmation. Your boarding pass contains most of the information required to file a claim for compensation for your cancelled flight.
  4. If your departure is brought forward, it can still be considered a cancelled flight and you can still apply for compensation.
  5. We would recommend that you keep a copy of the receipts for all of your expenses. This would ensure that you are fully reimbursed for the food, drinks, transport and accommodation that you purchased as a result of your cancelled flight. Unfortunately, receipts are the only documents which airlines consider as proof of outlays. Bank statements are not accepted.
  6. It is best to submit your claim for compensation as soon as possible. This would allow our team to build the strongest claim on your behalf.

Check My Compensation!

SkyRefund will help you receive your flight cancellation compensation

Flight cancellations occur for a variety of reasons, but it is in the airline’s best interest to claim that a cancelled flight occurred due to extraordinary circumstances, which prevent compensation payment even when this is not the case. This is why it can be very difficult for passengers to seek their right to compensation without expert help. Air carriers are in the position to refuse payment which would, unfortunately, dissuade most passengers from pursuing the case further.

SkyRefund’s mission is to help passengers receive their rightful compensation for their cancelled and delayed flights. To ensure that your passenger rights are upheld, we will take all the available steps to negotiate your compensation. This includes:

  • Expert analysis of all circumstances surrounding a cancelled flight

This usually includes gathering meteorological and flight data from external databases to and contacting the airport management to confirm departure and landing times.

  • Persistent communication with the airline

We have worked with more than 120 individual airlines so we know the nitty-gritty of working with every major carrier. Our extensive experience allows us to communicate with individual airlines in the most effective way.

  • Taking your case to the local Civil Aviation Authority

In most cases, the Civil Aviation Authority is the institution which is tasked with enforcing Regulation 261/04, which protects passenger rights in the case of flight cancellation or delay. Unfortunately, the rulings of the Civil Aviation Authority are not binding, and their decisions can be disputed by airlines.

If, for whatever reason, these steps are not enough to force the airline into paying the required compensation for their cancelled flight, SkyRefund is ready to take them to court on your behalf.

And since we work according to a “No Win, No Fee” principle, you don’t pay us anything in advance. In fact, we would only receive our fee after we have successfully claimed your delayed flight compensation. That’s right, if we are not successful in claiming your compensation for you, our assistance would be free of charge.

All you would have to do is submit your flight details and we will take it from there.