Air Passenger Rights – A Basic Overview

In this short guide, we take a look at ‘Air Passenger Rights’.

Air Passenger RightsWe cover several topics including the following:



The following guide is designed to help you familiarise yourself with your Rights when flying. Therefore it is just a guide and is not the official document and if you are unsure, you should seek professional advice. If you experience any of the problems listed below, you should contact the airline to whom you are flying with, as soon as possible.

Air Passenger Rights Inside The EU (European Union):

The European Union has implemented certain Rights for passengers. As a result, all airlines have a duty and obligation to fulfill these Passenger Rights. If the airline that you are flying with does not meet these requirements, then you must issue your complaint to the appropriate governing body. The airline to which you are flying with, has certain responsibilities to which it must uphold. These responsibilities are to transport you and your luggage to your chosen destination. They must also ensure that they respect your Rights during the time in which you are travelling with them. Therefore, they must not breach your Air Passenger Rights! If they do breach these rights, there are certain procedures they must follow and the following guide highlights these procedures.


Air Passenger Rights In The EU:

If your flight departs from inside the EU, you will need to make your complaint in the EU. If your flight departs from outside the EU but lands in a country that is in the EU and the flight is operated by an EU company, it is recommended that you issue your complaint to the appropriate governing body in that country.


Denied Boarding, Cancellation Of A Flight or Long Delay:

The following applies to any flight departing from inside the EU and any flight departing from outside the EU but landing at a country inside the EU.

If you have checked-in for your flight on time and are denied boarding or your flight has been cancelled, the airline to which you are travelling with, should offer you financial compensation and assistance. This applies for both Scheduled and Charter flights.


Denied Boarding:

If you are denied boarding on a flight because the flight has been over booked and there are not enough seats available on the flight, the airline should do several things and these are as follows:

The airline should ask if there are any passengers willing to give up their seat in return for agreed benefits. These benefits must include the choice of a refund, plus a free flight back to your place of departure or alternative transport to your final chosen destination. If you do not volunteer and you are denied boarding, the airline must compensate you with the following:

  • For a flight which is less than a distance of 1500klms, the airline must pay €250 compensation to you the passenger.
  • For any flights that are further in distance and between 1500klms – 3500klms, the airline must pay €400 in compensation to the passenger.
  • For flights departing the EU or that are departing outside the EU but flying into the EU that exceed 3500klms, the airline must provide compensation of €600.

As well as the compensation, the airline should also offer you the choice of a refund of your ticket.


A free flight back to your place of departure or alternative forms of transport.

The airline must also provide you with meals, accommodation (when needed) including transfers and they should also provide you with a form of communication if needed.

 Please Note If a flight is delayed less than 2, 3 and 4 hours respectively, the amount can be halved.



If your flight is cancelled, the airline must ensure it provides you with a choice of either:

A refund of your ticket with a free flight back to your place of departure


Alternative forms of transport to your destination.

It should also provide you with meals, accommodation (when necessary) and a form of communication if required.

If the airline does not provide you with sufficient notice or alternative transport before the cancellation of your flight, the airline may also be required to pay you compensation of the same amount as listed above for ‘Denied Boarding’.

Compensation or refunds must be paid within 7 days and can be paid in many different ways. These forms of payment can be in cash, bank transfer, cheque or travel voucher. If the airline pays in travel vouchers, they should have a signed agreement signed by you the passenger.

These are the Rights that have been set in place for you the passenger. Therefore, if you do not receive these Rights, you should issue a complaint with the airline to which you are travelling with.


Long Delays:

The following Rights apply presuming you have checked-in on time for any flight from an EU airport.


To an EU airport from an airport that is outside of the EU but is operated by an EU airline.

If the airline is expecting delays of the following length of time, then they must provide you with;

  • Meals
  • Accommodation (if necessary and including transfers)
  • Facilities for communication if required

Delays of 2 hours or more for flights less than 1500klms

If you encounter delays of 3 hours or more for longer flights inside of the EU and other flights between 1500 – 3500klms.

Delays of 4 hours or more outside of the EU.

If the delay is more than 5 hours, the airline must offer you a refund of your ticket. It must also offer you a free flight back to you place of departure.



You may claim for damages, loss or delay of your luggage. This is on any flight from an EU airline, anywhere in the world. If your luggage has been damaged, you should issue a claim in writing. This claim should be made within 7 days of receiving your luggage. For delayed luggage, you should issue your claim within 21 days of receiving your luggage.


Injury And Death In Accidents:

Passengers can claim for injury or death as a result of an accident on a flight by an EU airline anywhere throughout the world. Passengers have the Right to an advance payment for immediate economic needs.


Package Holidays:

As well as the Rights that are highlighted above, you may also claim damages against the Tour Operator to whom you booked your travel arrangements with if they fail to provide you with the services you have booked within the EU. These Rights apply to failure of providing any flights that are included in your package. If the Tour Operator fails to provide any part of your package, they should assist you with any other arrangements to your travel without any additional cost to you.

The above notes are simply a guide and if you have experienced any of the issue listed above, it is recommended you seek advice from a professional who has extensive knowledge in the area of Air Passenger Rights.