Possible issues when claiming compensation

When am I eligible for compensation? And why was my claim refused although I was delayed for several hours?

The rules regarding compensation for flight disruptions may generally seem simple. But several circumstances may nevertheless make it very difficult or nearly impossible to get compensation.

When am I eligible for compensation?

The four main rules

Below you see four conditions that must be fulfilled in order to be eligible for compensation from the airline: 

  1. You must arrive minimum 3 hours delayed to your final destination.

  2. You are flying from an EU country or with an EU-based airline.

  3. The flight disruption should be solely the airline's responsibility e.g. due to problems related to the operation of the aircraft, i.e. technical problems with the aircraft itself or sickness amongst airline crew. (Extraordinary circumstances do not entitle compensation). 

  4. The booking number (PNR- number) must be the same for the entire route if your initial delay is less than three hours. Some ticket agents often sell tickets, which include several PNR-numbers when your journey contains several connecting flights. If your ticket consists of more than one PNR-numbers, your right to compensation may be void.

How much am I entitled to?

In the following table, you will get an overview of what makes you eligible for compensation, and how much you may be entitled.

Reason Delayed arrival time Flight distance under 1.500 km Flight distance 1.501 - 3.500 km Flight distance more than 3.500 between EU-countries Flights over 3.500 km to/from EU-countries
Cancellation*   2 - 3 hours      250 €      200 €      200 €      300 €
Cancelled / Delayed   3 - 4 hours      250 €      400 €      400 €      300 €
Cancelled / Delayed More than 4 hours**      250 €      400 €      400 €      600 €
Overbooked        250 €      400 €      400 €      600 €

* If cancelled less than 7 days before the planned departure.

**If cancelled between 14-7 days before the planned departure.

Multiple booking numbers (PNR - numbers) for a total trip

A delay on your first flight might cause you to miss the connecting flight heading to your final destination.
Generally, you will only be eligible for compensation if you arrive later than 3 hours at your final destination, and as long as the PNR-number is the same for the entire journey.

Let’s take an example where your entitlement to compensation is void, due to multiple PNR numbers.

You are heading from Copenhagen to Dubai across London and have bought your flight as one journey with a connecting flight. You then see on your itinerary that your journey has two different PNR numbers (booking numbers).

So the first PNR - number was assigned to the flight from Copenhagen to London, and the second was assigned to the flight going from London to Dubai.

The first flight from Copenhagen is delayed 40 minutes and causes you to miss your connecting flight from London to Dubai and you were stuck for 7 hours in London, before you are rerouted with another flight to your destination. Overall, you arrived 8 hours later at your final destination (Dubai) than scheduled. Because your first flight was assigned its own PNR-number the destination is legally London. Since you did not arrive at your destination (which is London according to the PNR-number) later than 3 hours, you are unfortunately not eligible for compensation - no matter how much later you arrived at Dubai, which for you was your final destination.

In this example, your flight from Copenhagen to London was delayed 40 minutes. If we change the delay time to 3 hours and 10 minutes, which causes you to arrive more than 3 hours later to London than scheduled, you could be entitled EUR 250, even if the booking was assigned two PNR-numbers. But you will only receive compensation for the distance of London and not to Dubai.

We always recommend air passengers to buy their ticket directly through the airlines - so that your booking is only assigned one PNR - number.

When the authorities are unable to assist with a clarification

If the airlines refuse to pay compensation, Refundmore will investigate several databases and gather technical evidence, which might determine if the passenger is eligible for compensation from the airline. This applies as long as the airline is responsible for the disruption. During extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather, etc. The flight disruption is no longer within the airline's control - and the passengers will by default, not be eligible for compensation.

Sometimes the collected evidence can easily clarify whether the airline is responsible for the flight disruption or not - and in other cases, it is uncertain what actually happened and which party is responsible.

NEB stands for National Enforcement Body. Some NEBs are very helpful, while some NEBs are not very functional in helping with flight disruption matters. Some have long case processing times, are inaccurate in their decisions or do not cooperate at all with EU citizens and their legal assistance (Refundmore). This means sending a case to the authorities does not always provide clarification to the passenger. Principally, EU citizens should be able to make use of the same rights - but this is unfortunately not always how it turns out.

So, if a passenger is delayed in Italy, the case must be brought to the Italian authorities (NEB). However, it is Refundmore’s experience that the Italian NEB does not always work as optimally as it should. This means that Refundmore is hindered in providing assistance - and the passenger will never get a clarification on whether or not the airline should pay compensation due to lack of cooperation from the Italian NEB.



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