7 June 2023

Flight cancellation compensation

Flight cancellation compensation

Air travel has become a common way of moving over long distances in recent years. However, with the increase in the number of flights, the number of unexpected situations, such as flight cancellations, has also increased. We understand the frustration associated with such an event and therefore have prepared an article on compensation for a cancelled flight.

Passenger rights upon flight cancellation

When your flight is cancelled, the carrier should offer an alternative flight to the destination. Your rights in such a situation depend on whether you accept the offer of an alternative flight.

Accepting an alternative flight

If you decide to accept the offer of an alternative flight, you are entitled to a free reservation change, and in some cases, compensation for lost time. You are not entitled to a ticket refund in this case.

Refusing to travel

If the proposed alternative flight is not satisfactory to you, you have the right to refuse to travel. In this case, the carrier should refund your ticket, and depending on the reason for the cancellation, you may be entitled to compensation.

Criteria for granting compensation for a cancelled flight

Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 sets out the conditions that must be met for a passenger to receive compensation for a cancelled flight. First and foremost, the reason for the flight cancellation cannot be extraordinary, and the replacement flight should arrive at the destination with at least a two-hour delay.

Notification of flight cancellation

If the carrier notified you of the flight cancellation at least 14 days before the scheduled departure, you are not entitled to compensation. However, there are special criteria under which passengers may receive compensation if they are informed of the flight cancellation less than 14 days before the scheduled departure.

Compensation amounts for a cancelled flight

The compensation amount for a cancelled flight is determined based on Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and Council of February 11, 2004, and depends on the length of the planned flight:

  1. Short flights under 1500 km: The passenger is entitled to compensation of 250 euros.
  2. Medium flights from 1500 to 3500 km or intra-EU flights over 1500 km: The passenger may receive compensation of 400 euros.
  3. Long-haul flights over 3500 km: In case of flight cancellation, the carrier is obliged to pay compensation of 600 euros.

However, if the airline can prove that the cancellation was due to "extraordinary circumstances" that could not be avoided even if all possible measures were taken, it may not be obliged to pay compensation. Such "extraordinary circumstances" may include extreme weather conditions, strikes, security threats, unforeseen technical problems, and other situations beyond the airline's control.

It's worth noting that compensation is calculated per passenger, not per booking. So if two seats are booked on one reservation, compensation is due for both seats.

How to claim compensation?

First, you should contact the airline. Prepare all travel-related documents: tickets, confirmations, proof of purchase, etc. Present the carrier with details of your situation and expectations regarding compensation.

If the carrier refuses to pay compensation and you believe you are entitled to it, you can lodge a complaint with the appropriate aviation supervisory authority. In Poland, it's the Civil Aviation Authority.

How to get help with compensation for a cancelled flight?

If you have problems getting compensation, you can use the services of a company specializing in helping to obtain compensation for cancelled flights, like ours.


Remember that flight cancellation does not always mean a right to compensation. It's important to know your rights as a passenger and know what steps to take in case of flight cancellation. If you have any doubts, consult with us, we will do our best to help.