Has your flight been cancelled or delayed? Were you denied boarding? Your luggage is delayed or lost. You may have already experienced this kind of situation.

In order to better protect passengers, the European Union adopted Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 of February 11, 2004 guaranteeing a number of rights to air passengers. This regulation concerns :

  • all flights departing from the European Union, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland,
  • flights to the European Union, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland provided that the flight is operated by an airline based in an EU Member State, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland.

The Regulation applies in cases of denied boarding, flight delats or cancellations.

Following a judgment on 21 December2021 (joined cases C-146/20, C-188/20, C-196/20 and C-270/20) , the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has also considered that flights brought forward by more than one hour should be considered as cancelled under the Regulation.

The Regulation covers scheduled flights, charter flights, flights as part of a package travel contract as well as flights of low cost airlines.

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 transportation from the airport to the place of accommodation); and
  • a lump sum compensation ranging from €250 to €600 depending on the distance traveled.

In addition to the right to assistance and compensation, you can also choose between:

  • a refund of your tickets provided you do not follow through with the trip (with a free flight back to the point of departure, if applicable); or
  • re-routing to your final destination, under comparable transportation conditions and as soon as possible, or at a later date, at your convenience.

Your flight is cancelled or advanced by more than 1 hour

If your flight is canceled or advanced by more than 1 hour (see above), you have the choice of either:

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

You may also be entitled to free assistance (meals, drinks, two phone calls, faxes or e-mails, hotel accommodation if necessary and transportation from the airport to your accommodation).

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

Your flight is delayed

In the event of a delay, you are entitled to free assistance (meals, drinks, two phone calls, faxes or e-mails, hotel accommodation if necessary and transportation from the airport to your accommodation).

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

Following 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 lump sum compensation ranging from €250 to €600 (depending on the distance traveled) can be claimed in case of a delay of 3 hours or more in relation to the originally scheduled arrival time.

However, the airline can exonerate itself by demonstrating that the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances.

How and to whom to submit your complaint

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

In case of refusal or lack of response within 8 weeks, you can forward your file 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 Directorate for Consumer Protection (passagers@mpc.etat.lu).

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

ECC-Net has also published in its Air Passenger Rights Report 2015 – Do consumers get the compensation they are entitled to and at what costs?)

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 issues related to baggage (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 related incident.

The airline's liability limit is set at 1288 SDRs per passenger (approximately 1600 Euros), unless the passenger makes a special declaration when checking in his or her luggage (usually at an additional fee).

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

You can consult our fact sheet “baggage incidents”  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.