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Air travel: Delay

Your rights when problems occur

Regrettably, flight delays happen rather frequently. If the delay is 5 hours or even more you have the right to rescission and can demand the refund of the ticket price.

Care services

The delay of your departure is the relevant factor. This rule refers to flights were the arrival at the place of destination is at least three hours behind schedule.

You are entitled to assistance by receiving free food and refreshments, a hotel room if waiting overnight is necessary including transport between airport and hotel as well as access to two free phone calls/faxes/e-mails.

The timeframe for the right to care is

  • delay of minimum two hours of a flight up to 1.500km
  • delay of minimum three hours of longer flights within the EU and other flights between 1.500km and 3.500km
  • delay of minimum four hours of a flight longer than 3.500km outside the EU

If the airline didn't offer such assistance or only booked the hotel room, but didn't pay for it, you need to keep all invoices in order to claim a refund for the extra costs afterwards.

Withdrawal instead of later transportation

If the departure is delayed for 5 hours or even more, you have the right to rescission, instead of a later transportation, and can demand the refund of the ticket price.

If you already travelled parts of your journey and the first flight becomes irrelevant, the airline has to organise a free return flight to your initial point of departure.

Compensation for long delays

According to the text of the Regulation, you are not entitled to compensation in case of delays. However, there was a legal discussion about the timeframe - at what point does a delay turn into a cancellation?

Finally, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) rendered a judgement that passengers of long delayed flights are entitled to the same payment of compensation (with the same restrictions) as if their flight would have been cancelled.

Please note: The important factor for your entitlement to compensation is not the delay of your departure, but of your arrival!

Tips and help

In order to make your claims according to the Air Passenger Rights Regulation, you can use our free sample letters (available in German):

The most effective way is to send a registered letter. At least you should send an e-mail with reading confirmation.

If you receive no or only negative replies, we will help you. Find all our contact details at this link.

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