Traveling can be amazing, but when your flight is delayed or canceled, it can create a cascade of problems to derail your trip. You could miss your connection, the chance to see your favorite team play or another critical event. So what are your rights when this happens, and are you entitled to flight delay compensation? In this article, we’ll discuss what to do when a flight is canceled and help determine if you’ll receive compensation for the delay or cancellation.
Do airlines have to compensate for delayed or canceled flights?
If your flight has been delayed or canceled, it’s possible that the airline owes you compensation for the trouble that it caused you. The likelihood of compensation and the amount you’re owed will depend on a number of factors, including how long the delay was, where you’re flying to and from, and the reason for the delay.
Flight delay/cancellation policies by region
When your flight is delayed or canceled, your ability to receive compensation depends on the circumstances that caused it and where your flight is headed to or from. Europe has some of the strongest protections for passengers, while other areas have minimal or no formal rules governing what the airlines must do.
Flight delay compensation in the U.S.
Unfortunately, the U.S. doesn’t have a passenger Bill of Rights to protect passengers when something goes wrong. Airlines are not required to compensate passengers when flights are delayed or canceled; U.S. laws only require compensation when a passenger is “bumped” from a flight that is oversold.
Many credit cards with travel benefits offer protections that cover flight delays, cancellations, and lost or delayed luggage. These protections can help you get rerouted, cover additional costs like room and board, or pay for necessities when you don’t have access to your luggage.
Flight delay/cancellation compensation in Europe: EU regulation 261/2004
In 2004, the European Parliament passed common rules (EU regulation 261/2004) on compensation for passengers who were denied boarding, had their flight canceled, or experienced a long delay. The rules base maximum compensation on the distance traveled and where you’re flying to and from.
Flight delay/cancellation compensation in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia
Unlike the European Union or the U.S., the Middle East, Africa, and Asia have numerous countries and governments in charge of them without a central governing body. Because of that, there are no cohesive policies in place to protect passengers.
Your best bet for compensation of a delayed or canceled flight headed to these regions is if your flight is arriving into or departing from the EU, or if your credit card includes trip delay/cancellation insurance. If you’re flying through the EU, its generous flight delay and cancellation policies apply as long as the delay or cancellation is related to something within the airline’s control. Credit card benefits apply if you’ve paid for some or all of your tickets with the card, depending on your card’s benefits.