Delays and cancellations can happen, and when they do, it can feel like you’ve nowhere to turn. They can be pretty damaging and might even lead to further travel issues or even financial loss. Luckily, as a passenger in the EU, you are entitled to certain rights and protections when it comes to delays and cancellations.

Thanks to the EU261 law passed in 2004, passengers flying to or from a country within the EU or on a European-based airline are protected from airline abuses. If your flight was delayed, you could be entitled to financial compensation from the airline. However, there are a few requirements that must be met before you fully qualify for delay compensation. Let’s take a look at what constitutes delay compensation from the airline.

Requirements For Your Flight to Qualify

First and foremost, your flight must be within a European jurisdiction. If your flight took off from a European country or landed within one, then it qualifies for protections granted under EU261. If the airline is a European airline, then it qualifies for protection as well. Otherwise, the company in charge of your flight won’t be subject to EU261 and likely won’t grant the same financial protections.

If your flight was delayed at least 3 hours, then you could be entitled to financial compensation. The longer it’s delayed, the more money you could earn back. The distance your flight was supposed to travel will also impact the amount you could receive. A flight that was delayed less than three hours will not be responsible for reimbursing you, regardless of how it impacts connecting flights.

If the airline has control over what impacted the delay, then you’ll be eligible for financial reimbursement via claim.

Obstructions Outside of the Airline’s Control

If the issue that causes the delay in the first place is outside of the airline’s control, you might not be entitled to financial compensation. Situations like police intervention, worker strikes, or security threats are all exceptions to the EU261 law and will not entitle you to reimbursement. A general rule of thumb is that if the airline could control the circumstances, you’ll be reimbursed. If they couldn’t, then you won’t be reimbursed.

What to Do Moving Forward?

Once your flight is delayed the necessary amount of time under the right factors, you could be eligible for financial compensation. However, there are a few different paths that you can take moving forward. Your first option is to accept a voucher from the airline. Once the delay qualifies for compensation, your airline will likely offer you a voucher for a free flight or meal on your next flight. The voucher will be much less valuable than what you can earn by filing a claim, but it’s guaranteed money right away.

Your next option is to file a claim on your own against the airline. If your claim is accepted and paid out, this will be your most lucrative option. You could earn up to €600 from the airline. The only issue with this is that the airline may do whatever it takes to avoid paying your claim. They could find some obscure loophole that prevents them from having to pay, or they could stretch the process out for months or even years.

Another option is to work with a third-party flight claim company to guarantee your money back. These companies have experience working on filing claims against airlines and can almost guarantee success in a short period of time. The drawback to this method is that you’ll have to pay the company a portion of your earnings as compensation for their services.