Tuesday, 7th July 2020
LEGAL Article

This Month's Magazine
Airline Passengers Rights to Compensation

Airline Passengers Rights to Compensation

“Your flight delayed? Cancelled? Denied Boarding? You are probably entitled to compensation”! Say Martel & Urnieta Abogados.

We are about to enter the summer holiday seasons and passengers start turning up for their flights as they do at peak holiday times like Easter, Christmas, etc. Unfortunately, some passengers may be left behind or get “bumped” because of overbooking even though their flight was confirmed and they did meet the check in deadline.

The EU has created legislation to discourage airlines from deliberately overbooking flights, a practice which has become routine for most major airlines. Should "bumping", happen airlines have to offer compensation. Additionally, if flights are cancelled or delayed by more than two hours all passengers must be compensated. This will be the case except in "extraordinary circumstances", the definition of which may or may not include bad weather, security alerts or strikes, but passengers still have the right to information, assistance and re-routing. It has already been established in the European Court that airline companies cannot use an aircraft's technical problems as an excuse for not paying compensation to passengers.

Regretfully some airlines tend to overlook the fact that they should inform passengers of their rights to claim, so these are briefly summarised as follows:

  • Denied boarding
               You may be entitled to compensation between € 125 and € 600 depending on flight distance and the delays incurred when rerouted.
  • Long delays
               When flights are delayed, passengers will have the right to meals and refreshments, as well as telephone calls, fax or e-mails, all free of charge. If the departure time is not until the next day, passengers will be offered hotel accommodation and transport to and from the hotel. If the delay is over five hours, passengers can choose between reimbursement [airlines will have seven days within which to make the payment] of the ticket at the price at which it was bought or a return flight to the initial point of departure.
  • Cancellation
               You are entitled to compensation unless you received a 14 days cancellation notice, or you were offered an alternative route close to your booked schedule or if the airline can prove that the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances. Aircraft technical problems are not extraordinary circumstances.


More information and a list of the national authorities responsible for enforcing these rights are available at: http://apr.europa.eu

Remember this is valid in Spain and all EU member states, with the added penalty in UK where airlines failing to comply will face fines of up to ÂŁ5,000 per passenger, with the Civil Aviation Authority responsible for sorting out any complaints affecting UK carriers.

According to present legislation in Spain and anywhere in Europe passengers who are denied boarding because of overbooking or cancellation are entitled to the following compensation:




Length of journey

Delay to destination


Up to 1,500km

More than 2 hours

250 euros 


Up to 3 hours

200 euros 


More than 3 hours

400 euros

More than 3,500km

More than 4 hours

600 euros







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