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Bei einer durch die Fluggesellschaft verursachten Verspätung steht Ihnen eine Entschädigung zu, Bild: Song_about_summer / shutterstock

Traveller’s rights in the event of a flight delay

Flight delays are not only annoying: sometimes they also have a whole range of unpleasant consequences. You may miss a connecting flight, an overnight stay may be necessary, or you may have additional expenses for your meals. You can find out what rights travellers have in the event of a flight delay here.

In which case do travelers have a right to compensation?

As a general rule, the delay must be at least three hours in order to be able to apply for compensation. This can be a maximum of 600 euros. If your flight is delayed by two hours, the airline must already offer services. If you are five hours late, you can claim damages. However, there is no entitlement to compensation payments in the event of delay if this was due to force majeure. Bad weather, bird strikes and strikes that are not directly related to the airline are included. That would be, for example, a strike by air traffic controllers. Strikes by airline staff, staff shortages, technical problems or icy wings are not considered force majeure.

How much is the compensation in detail?

According to EU law, the amount of compensation for flight delays depends on the flight distance. If your claim is legal, it is staggered between 250 and 600 euros. Up to 1,500 kilometers 250 euros, up to 3,500 kilometers 400 euros and beyond 600 euros. The delay time also plays a role. From a delay of two hours, passengers are entitled to services: these are free drinks and meals. From a delay of five hours, passengers have the choice of whether they still want to take the flight or not. Then it is possible to have the flight ticket refunded.

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If you still want to reach your destination, you are entitled, if possible, to an alternative form of transport to your destination, for example by train. It is also possible to rebook on another flight. If the flight or train journey can only be started the following day, you have the right to cover the costs of an overnight stay in a hotel. You are also entitled to the services if the airline is not to blame for the delay of the flight. In addition, they are not offset against any subsequent compensation payments. Other services can also include a maximum of two phone calls if you need to reach your family at home from abroad to inform you of your delay.

What is the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation for Flight Delays all about?

The regulations mentioned so far fall under the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation. This comes into force if either the airline is based in the EU or the flight with take-off and landing takes place within the territory of the EU. Even if the delayed airline is not based within the EU. For these airlines, the following also applies: If the flight takes off within the EU and ends outside, the EU Passenger Rights Regulation also applies. However, it does not apply if the take-off was set outside the EU, but the destination is within the EU. The EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation also applies to flights that include connecting flights and have been booked as a complete flight. In this case, both flights act as one, and the total delay must be at least three hours in order to make a claim.

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How do I apply for compensation?

In order to be able to apply for compensation, some documents must be available. You will need the boarding ticket with flight number, proof of purchase of the flight, any replacement tickets issued, any vouchers received, receipts for additional costs such as train tickets from the destination airport or hotel costs. In order to be able to prove the delay, you should also have a written confirmation from the airline regarding the flight delay handed over to you at the airport. Make sure that the reason for the delay is stated. In any case, you should also take a photo of the departure board at the airport indicating the delay. The delay time is indicated here. The earlier the compensation payment is submitted to the airline, the better. Internationally, there are different limitation periods for compensation claims. In Germany , it is three years.

What to do with package or business trips?

Flight delay business trip
Even on a business trip, you are entitled to compensation if the flight is delayed, Image: Ekaterina Pokrovsky / shutterstock

In the case of package tours, compensation can also be claimed from the tour operator for a delay of four hours or more. This then affects a part of the price of the package tour. From a legal point of view, it is a travel defect. The basis for compensation payments in the event of travel defects is the so-called Frankfurt Table. This regulates the actual entitlement to and the amount of the compensation payment. In the case of business trips, the passenger is entitled to any compensation. Even if the ticket was booked by the company. However, the employment contract may contain special rules for this. If necessary, check it carefully in advance.