Your trip doesn’t always go as planned. Your flight is cancelled or delayed, your luggage is delayed, lost… What should you do and what are your rights?

 

  1. You have been denied boarding, your flight is cancelled or delayed

Your rights in this respect are provided for in the European Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 on air passenger rights and in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The Regulation applies in cases of denied boarding, cancellation or delay of a flight. Since a judgment of 21 December 2021 (joined cases C-146/20, C-188/20, C-196/20 and C-270/20), the Court of Justice of the European Union has also considered that flights brought forward by more than one hour should be considered as cancelled under the Regulation.

The Regulation applies to passengers of:

  • a flight departing from an airport in the territory of the European Union; or
  • a flight from an airport outside the territory of the European Union to an airport in the European Union, provided that the flight is operated by a Community carrier.

The Regulation covers scheduled flights, charter flights, flights as part of a package tour as well as low-cost airline flights.

Under certain conditions, in the event of denied boarding, cancellation or delay of a flight, you may be entitled to a lump sum compensation of :

  • 250 € for flights of 1500 km ;
  • 400 € for flights between 1500 and 3500 km; or
  • 600 € for flights over 3500 km.

 

You have been denied boarding

If you have been unjustifiably denied boarding by the airline, you are entitled to

  • free assistance (meals, drinks, two phone calls, faxes or e-mails, hotel accommodation if necessary and transport between the airport and place of accommodation); and
  • a lump sum compensation ranging from €250 to €600 depending on the distance travelled.

In addition to the right to assistance and compensation, you also have the choice between :

  • reimbursement of your tickets on condition that you do not undertake the journey (with a free flight back to the point of departure if necessary); or
  • re-routing to your final destination, under comparable transport conditions and as soon as possible, or at a later date, at your convenience.

 

Your flight is cancelled or brought forward by more than 1 hour

If your flight is cancelled or brought forward by more than 1 hour (see above), you can choose between

  • a refund of your flight tickets; or
  • a re-routing to your final destination.

You can also benefit from free assistance (meals, drinks, two phone calls, faxes or e-mails, hotel accommodation if necessary and transport between the airport and place of accommodation).

When the cancellation is not due to extraordinary circumstances, the airline will also have to pay you a lump sum compensation ranging from €250 to €600 depending on the distance travelled.

 

Your flight is delayed

If your flight is delayed, you are entitled to free assistance (meals, drinks, two telephone calls, faxes or e-mails, hotel accommodation if necessary and transport between the airport and place of accommodation).

For a delay of at least 5 hours, the air carrier must also reimburse you the price of the ticket (with a free flight back to the point of departure, if necessary), provided that you give up your journey.

Since a judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (judgment of 19.11.2009, aff. C-402/07 and C-432/07), a flat-rate compensation ranging from €250 to €600 (depending on the distance travelled) can be claimed in the event of a delay of 3 hours or more in relation to the initially scheduled arrival time. However, the airline may exempt itself by showing that the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances.

 

How and to whom should you submit your complaint

In the event of denied boarding, cancellation or delay of a flight, we advise you to submit your complaint in writing as soon as possible to the airline that operated the flight.

In case of refusal or lack of response within 8 weeks, you can forward your complaint to the national authority (of the place of the incident) set up in each Member State to monitor the application of Regulation 261/2004 (“National Enforcement Body” or “NEB”).

In Luxembourg, this is the Ministry of Consumer Protection (passagers@mpc.etat.lu).

For more information, you can consult our factsheet “Air Passenger Rights“, where you will find an overview of the different rights you have as a passenger and practical advice on how to make your complaint to the airline.

The ECC Network has also published its 2015 report on air passenger rights (Air Passenger Rights Report 2015 – Do consumers get the compensation they are entitled to and at what costs?).

 

  1. Your baggage is delayed, lost or damaged

The Warsaw Convention of 12 October 1929 and the Montreal Convention of 28 May 1999 are applicable to any baggage-related problem (delay, loss, destruction or damage).

In particular, the Montreal Convention delimits the liability of the air carrier and sets strict time limits for claiming damages resulting from a baggage incident. 

The airline’s liability limit is 1288 SDRs per passenger (about 1600 euros), unless the passenger makes a special declaration when checking in his or her baggage (usually for an additional fee).

In case of delayed or lost baggage, you have 21 days from the loss or late receipt of the luggage to submit your claim to the airline (preferably by registered letter).

In the event of damage to or destruction of baggage, you have 7 days from the date of handover to submit your complaint to the airline (preferably by registered letter).

You can consult our “baggage incidents” fact sheet, which contains some practical advice in the event of a baggage incident.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you need more information on this subject.