Airline strikes are never fun. They’re highly inconvenient for the passengers and the airline, canceling flights and causing delays until they are resolved. The good news is that you may be eligible for compensation if you have experienced issues due to an airline strike – but only if you are traveling to or from the European Union. Information in this article was updated in 2023.
- In case of an airline strike, passengers may be entitled to compensation under the EU’s EC261/2004 regulation. Key conditions include: the strike involves airline employees, not airport staff; the disrupted flight was to or from the EU; the delay was at least three hours; or the flight was cancelled with less than 14 days’ notice.
- Extraordinary circumstances beyond the airline’s control, such as airport security strikes, baggage handler strikes, political unrest, or severe weather conditions, are not grounds for compensation. In addition, any claim should be within three years of the original delay to be eligible.
- Compensation varies based on the situation. For flight cancellations due to an airline strike, passengers can receive up to €600, provided they were not notified at least 14 days in advance or offered a comparable flight. Delayed flight compensation also varies based on the length of delay and the distance of the flight.
- During the delay, passengers are entitled to care, including meals and refreshments, access to communication, overnight accommodation if necessary, and transportation to and from the airport. In case of a delay over 5 hours, passengers can choose to rebook their flight or receive a full refund.
- If a passenger has experienced a flight cancellation or delay due to an airline strike in the past three years, they can still claim compensation, following a 2019 ruling that airline strikes are not considered extraordinary circumstances. However, delays and cancellations related to COVID-19 are not eligible for compensation.
Airline Strike Overview
Under EC261/2004, you may be entitled to claim compensation if you’re delayed because of an airline strike. It’s not an unforeseen issue and oftentimes could have been resolved before it escalated to a full-on strike. Airlines won’t automatically offer this to you, so you’ll need to file a claim.
When Am I Eligible for Airline Strike Compensation?
Airline strikes are cause for flight compensation under EU EC 261; however, not all flights are eligible. You do have to meet some qualifying circumstances before you can file a claim.
But first, what is an airline strike? An airline strike includes any disruption of service that involves airline carrier employees, including pilots, cabin crews, flight attendants, engineers, and more. Anyone who works directly under the airline and is essential to day-to-day operations is included under airline strikes. When they strike, the airlines are no longer able to operate, causing huge delays and swaths of canceled flights.
Because this is within their control, airline strikes are covered under EC 261. The key point is that it has to be employees of the airline. It cannot be airport staff, which is different and is not eligible under this regulation. The circumstances matter, and you may be eligible for compensation as long as your flight meets the following criteria.
- Your flight must be in the EU, whether to start or end, and the strike had to impact the EU leg. If you flew within the EU at both points, you’re in the clear!
- Consider just how long the delay was. Was it delayed by at least three hours or more?
- If your flight was canceled, did you have less than 14 days’ notice? Was your reservation confirmed prior to the strike only to change at the last minute?
Even if you took a replacement flight, you could still be eligible for compensation if your new flight was significantly different than your original flight. As long as the flight in question was within the last three years, it qualifies under EC 261.
This is a relatively new development. It wasn’t until 2019 that airline strikes were included under EC 261, so it’s important that you look back at any of your flight delays to see if you are eligible. The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg found that airlines are responsible for the behavior of their staff, and that includes strikes that lead to delays and cancellations. This ruling is another way that EC 261 is holding airlines accountable in hopes of improving the airline industry.
Delays and cancelations are costly inconveniences, and in most cases, they can be avoided. If you encounter an airline strike, don’t hesitate to file a claim. The airline won’t give you your compensation unless you request it.
When Am I Not Eligible for Airline Strike Compensation?
EC 261 is all about holding the airlines accountable, so if they are responsible for the delay, then they are required by law to pay out for your inconvenience, and the amount will vary depending on the length of your delay and trip. However, what happens if they aren’t responsible? What if it’s someone else’s fault or an act of god? If their airline is not responsible for the circumstances that caused the flight delay or cancelation, unfortunately, you will not be eligible for compensation. This includes:
- Airport security strikes
- Baggage handler strikes
- Air traffic management staff strikes
- Political unrest
Extraordinary circumstances are anything that is out of the airline’s control, so the circumstances of the delays matter. This can include inclement weather, though there are some exceptions to the rule. The airline must have taken all reasonable measures before the delay occurred for it to qualify as extraordinary circumstances. For example, if other airlines were able to navigate a storm with preparation, then the airline could still be held accountable.
It’s all about reasonable measures, which can get murky under the eyes of the law. Because of that, you can still try to submit a claim even if it isn’t technically eligible under EC 261. Some airlines will make good faith gestures to settle with their passengers and retain their business. Otherwise, you can work directly with their customer service teams to help reschedule your flight and get you on your way to your final destination.
EC 261 favors the passengers, but it also recognizes that airlines aren’t in control of every circumstance. Unfortunately for you, anything that qualifies as extraordinary circumstances isn’t covered under EC 261. Remember, you can only file claims within three years of the original delay. If your delay happened before then, that too would be ineligible – even if it meets the criteria.
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What Airline Strike Compensation Can I Get?
Your compensation will vary based on the circumstances of your flight issue, so it’s important to know what you are entitled to. As long as the problem is within the airline’s control, you should be eligible for compensation under EC 261, though the amount will differ. Luckily, they have standards in place.
Flights are cancelled all the time, but if yours is a result of an airline strike in the EU, then you may be eligible to be compensated for your inconvenience, but you need to file a claim first. As long as the airline did not notify you at least 14 days in advance or offer you a comparable flight, you could be eligible for flight cancellation compensation up to €600.
The chart below outlines how much money you can claim depending on the length of your delay and the distance of your flight. As long as you have a touchpoint within the EU, EC 261 applies.
|Less than 2 hours||2 - 3 hours||3 – 4 hours||More than 4 hours||Never arrived||Distance|
|€125||€250||€250||€250||€250||All flights 1,500 km or less|
|€200||€200||€400||€400||€400||Internal EU flights over 1,500 km|
|€200||€200||€400||€400||€400||Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km|
|€300||€300||€300||€600||€600||Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 km|
Perhaps you’re lucky enough that your flight is simply being delayed instead of cancelled. It’s still a problem but look on the bright side. You’re able to get to your final destination eventually. Too, you may be entitled to compensation of up to €600 under EC 261.
Delayed flight compensation is a little different than cancelled flights. The compensation doesn’t start kicking in until three hours, and the value only increases as the time you’re delayed increases. EC 261 also takes into account the distance when calculating how much you’re entitled to for a delayed flight because of an airline strike.
|Less than 3 hours||3 – 4 hours||More than 4 hours||Never arrived||Distance|
|€ –||€250||€250||€250||All flights 1,500 km or less|
|€ –||€400||€400||€400||Internal EU flights over 1,500 km|
|€ –||€400||€400||€400||Non-internal EU flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km|
|€ –||€300||€600||€600||Non-internal EU flights over 3,500 km|
You can calculate your flight distance bellow.
Denied boarding is anytime that you are refused entry to a plane, and one of the most common reasons for this is that the airline is overbooked. If this is the case, you are eligible for compensation. If you have been denied boarding because of an airline strike, you may also be entitled to compensation.
You’ll need to understand why you’re being denied boarding and get it in writing if you can. If the flight is merely delayed, the amount of compensation depends on the length of your delay. Anytime you are denied boarding against your will, and it is not your fault, you are entitled to compensation.
What Are My Airline Strike Rights?
When there’s an airline strike, it’s important that you know your rights. This will help you get the compensation you deserve for your inconvenience. As long as the issue is within the airline’s control and not at the airport itself, you can recoup some of your losses.
What Am I Entitled To?
What you’re entitled to depends on how long you are delayed, but you are entitled to care as you wait. This includes:
- Meals and refreshments as you wait.
- Access to communications if you need it, including two telephone calls, faxes, and emails.
- Overnight accommodation if your flight is delayed overnight.
- Transportation to and from the airport if you need overnight accommodation or are able to return home after your flight.
Your rights increase as the length of your delay increases, so don’t be afraid to ask for what you deserve from the airlines. They won’t offer it unless you ask.
Can I Rebook?
Yes, you can rebook your flight as long as it has been cancelled or delayed for more than 5 hours. You can completely withdraw from your flight, and in that case, you will receive a full refund, including taxes and service charges. You can also ask to be rebooked on another flight. If the time varies significantly from your original flight, you may still claim compensation. Airline strikes are preventable, so don’t forget to claim your restitution.
What About Past Strikes?
If you’ve faced a flight cancellation or delay in the past three years, you can still claim compensation after the fact. You are not locked into doing it in the moment, and that includes when airline strikes occur. Judges first ruled that airline strikes were not extraordinary circumstances in 2019, so as long as the open time window applies, you can still claim. COVID-19 delays and cancellations do not apply regardless of the time frame.
You have a lot of rights under EC 261 when it comes to claiming your compensation, and now that airline strikes count as controllable circumstances, you have even more! Look back at your delays and see if any apply. You could be eligible to receive up to €600 if you ask. The easiest way to check your eligibility is through specialized claim companies. You can find the best airline strike compensation companies bellow.
What is an airline strike compensation?
Airline strike compensation is financial recompense that passengers can claim when their flight is delayed or cancelled due to a strike by airline employees. This is applicable under EU regulation EC261/2004 which considers airline strikes as within the airline’s control, thus making them liable to compensate affected passengers.
How much is an airline strike compensation?
The amount of compensation you can receive depends on the distance of your flight and the length of your delay. For cancellations due to an airline strike, passengers can receive up to €600, provided they were not notified at least 14 days in advance or offered a comparable flight. Delayed flight compensation varies based on the length of delay and the distance of the flight, but can also be up to €600.
How to claim compensation for an airline strike?
To claim compensation for an airline strike, you must file a claim with the airline detailing the nature of the disruption, your flight details, and the impact it had on your travel plans. It is recommended to keep all relevant documentation, such as tickets, boarding passes, and any communication with the airline. Specialist claim companies can also assist you in this process.
How long do I have to claim compensation for an airline strike?
You have up to three years from the date of the delayed or cancelled flight to claim compensation for an airline strike. This applies to strikes that occurred after the 2019 ruling that declared airline strikes were not considered extraordinary circumstances.
What documentation do I need to claim an airline strike compensation?
To claim airline strike compensation, you will need your flight details (such as your ticket or booking confirmation), evidence of the delay or cancellation (like emails or texts from the airline), and any receipts for expenses incurred as a result of the disruption. It can also be helpful to provide a written account of events.
Does an airline strike compensation apply only for EU flights?
Airline strike compensation under the EU regulation EC261/2004 applies to all flights departing from an EU airport, regardless of the airline, or to flights arriving at an EU airport if the airline is based in the EU. Therefore, it is not strictly limited to EU flights, but the flight must have some connection to the EU for the regulation to apply.
About an Author
Scott Welsch is a London-based attorney. He specializes in travel law, and he wants to educate people on their rights as European travelers. Many flight compensation companies try to entice their customers with promises of speedy service, success rates, and money they have successfully returned. These look like the best options to the untrained eye and the frazzled traveler sitting on an airport floor. Our mission here is to keep the comparison list up to date, allowing you to work with the exceptional companies only that live up to their shiny promises.