Airplane canceled or delayed: what to do?

My travels lead me to take a plane very regularly, so I experienced the famous delays and cancellations of which some flights are victims as soon as the wind decides to blow a little too much, that the snow invades the tracks or that a strike suddenly breaks out. So I did my little research on the amounts that I could legally claim, as well as the procedures to follow to get me reimbursed.

I do not hide from you that I was quite surprised by some of my discoveries so I decided to write a little article to help you understand what your rights are and how to make them work. Your hours lost in the corridors of the airport will no longer remain unpaid 🙂

Refund and compensation of his plane ticket in case of cancellation / delay

What are the conditions to be compensated?

European guarantees

To begin, you should know that when traveling by plane, you are protected by European law (EU Directive 261-2004) which guarantees you certain rights. However, in order to benefit from this guarantee, you must be in at least one of the following situations:

  • Your flight instead ofa European country to another European country (No matter which airline you have borrowed)
  • Your flight instead ofa European country to an external country (No matter which airline you have borrowed)
  • Your flight instead ofan external country to a European country (only if you have borrowed from a company that is based in Europe)

* European countries include the countries of the European Union, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland

You may not be compensated if extreme conditions have prevented the airline from taking off, such as a strike or snowstorm.

Company guarantees

If your flight does not meet at least one of the two criteria listed above, European law does not protect you. That does not mean that you can not get a refund, because in almost all cases, the company reimburses at least the amount of the flight, but the terms of repayment depend on each company and there is often no additional compensation.

airline ticket compensation

flight delayed or canceled: what are your rights?

In case of delay less than 3 hours

In case of delay, the company is obliged to take care of you during the delay, that is to say provide you refreshments and meals if necessary.

In case of delay greater than 3 hours / cancellation / denied boarding

In case of delay greater than 3 hours, cancellation of the flight or denied boarding (due to overbooking) the airline must:

  • You take charge (meals, drinks etc …).
  • It is obliged to offer a refund or a routing in the same conditions to your destination and pay you a hotel if the departure is the next day.
  • Offer you compensation.

The compensation offered can go up to 600 € and depends on the distance traveled as well as the duration of the delay.

Flight distance Compensation
In the European Union (EU) Between the EU and a non-EU country
Up to 1,500 km 250 € 250 €
1,500 to 3,500 km 400 € 400 €
More than 3,500 km 400 € 600 €

airline ticket compensation

How to get a refund or compensation?


In the event of a delay of more than 3 hours, cancellation or denied boarding, you may decide not to take your flight and ask the airline to reimburse you for your flight ticket. In this case, the claim is simple because it is up to the company to offer you the refund and make it within 7 days of your claim. You have no additional steps to take.


This is where it gets complicated, because if it is easy enough to get a ticket refunded, the steps to get the extra compensation you owe are often long and full of paperwork (yuck). I will give you two possible solutions in this case:

Make your own compensation claim

You can apply online at the website of the airline you have borrowed. However some companies do not offer this possibility. You must then take your courage and find the address proposed to file a complaint and send a letter / request for payment to the company in question stating that you want compensation.

If the company answers you (which is not always the case) and the answer does not suit you (for example, claiming extraordinary circumstances), send a letter to the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, with supporting documents and your claim. As much to tell you that you will have to arm yourself with patience.

Go through a specialized website

If you want to avoid filling out a bunch of forms, finding the right address to write to, etc … you can also go through specialized sites that take care of claiming your compensation for you.

There are today a multitude of sites that offer these services. I personally advise you to go through Flightright. A safe and above all extremely effective site (99% success on the initiated procedures)

Just enter your details, the flight reference and they do all the work for you. The filing of your file is done in 5 minutes and you just have to wait. The maximum compensation is 600 €, the site then takes a commission on the amount of this allowance (27% + VAT amount). And the best part of all this is that you only pay this commission if you win, you have nothing to pay if you do not receive anything from the airline.

You have up to 5 years to claim your compensation, so if you took a flight in the last 5 years that was more than 3 hours late, you can still claim compensation today.


It costs you nothing in case of failure and it takes you 5 minutes to fill out the forms, so I think it's always worth a try if one of your flights has been delayed or canceled.

I hope that this article will help you to assert your right in case of cancellation or delay of your flight.

I know it does not make up for a spoiled vacation, but a delay can be good news if it allows you to pay for a big restaurant on arrival 🙂 Feel free to comment on your own feedback. experience on this kind of situation.

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