Flight cancelled, what to do now?

Your flight has been cancelled. Unfortunate but nothing you can do, or is there. See you can do something about it, because you are always entitled to an alternative flight, or a refund and assistance. You will find the necessary explanations here.

Flight cancelled: to what are you entitled?

Even if you bought your ticket months in advance, there is still the risk that the airline cancels your flight. Regardless of the reason why the flight was cancelled, you always have the choice between:

  • an alternative flight 
  • the refund of your reservation

Are you opting for an alternative flight? Then you are also entitled to:

  • meals and refreshments in proportion to the waiting time
  • two free-of-charge phone calls, e-mails or fax messages
  • an overnight stay at a hotel if necessary, and transport to this hotel

When can you claim damages?

Regardless of whether you opt for an alternative flight or for a refund of your reservation, you are entitled to claim compensation if your flight was cancelled, unless you were informed of this in good time:

  • at least 2 weeks before your departure
  • between 2 weeks and 7 days before your departure, and you were offered an alternative flight that departs at the most 2 hours earlier and arrives at the most 4 hours later than your originally booked, cancelled flight
  • less than 7 days before your departure, and you were offered an alternative flight that departs at the most 1 hour earlier and arrives at the most 2 hours later than your originally booked, cancelled flight
Please note: The airline is not required to pay this compensation if the cancellation is due to exceptional circumstances or force majeure.

What is the amount of the compensation?

Do you meet the above-mentioned conditions? Then you can obtain financial compensation per passenger, amounting to the following:

  • € 250 for flights up to and including 1,500 km
  • € 400 for flights exceeding 1,500 km within the European Union, and for flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km outside of the EU
  • € 600 for other flights

This amount can be halved, however, if you are offered an alternative flight for which the arrival time:

  • is within 2 hours after your original arrival time for a distance of 1,500 km or less
  • is within 3 hours after your original arrival time for a distance exceeding 1,500 km within the European Union, and for a distance between 1,500 and 3,500 km outside of the EU
  • is within 4 hours after your original arrival time for other flights

What happens in the case of force majeure?

Has your flight been cancelled due to force majeure? In any case, the airline has to offer you meals, refreshments, phone calls and a hotel until the actual flight. The airline is not required to pay you compensation, however.

But what is a case of force majeure? Force majeure includes:

  • political instability
  • difficult weather conditions
  • safety risks
  • strikes external to the airline

Is there a technical problem? The Court of Justice of the European Union does not consider this as force majeure as such.

Good to know: Not convinced by the reason given by the airline? In this case, fill in the complaints form for airline passengers, and appeal to one of the National Enforcement Bodies appointed for this purpose by the European Commission and the member states. You should consult the competent authority in the country where your plane should have taken off. Are you departing from a non-EU country? Then you should contact the competent authority in your country of arrival.