Cancelled flight

Updated: 8/15/2016

If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to either transport to your final destination using comparable alternative means, or having your ticket refunded and, where relevant, being returned free of charge to your initial departure point. 

These rules apply if you are:

  • leaving the EU with any airline, or
  • arriving in the EU with a carrier registered in the EU (or Iceland, Norway or Switzerland)

The rules apply both if you have booked a flight ticket only, or if you are going on a package holiday. They do not apply for passengers who are travelling for free or at a reduced price. 

Has your flight been cancelled?

  • File a written complaint (via letter or e-mail) to the airline. Say you want compensation and why. Do not forget to attach copies of tickets and receipts of costs you might have had. Always save original receipts as well as a copy of your complaint. Feel free to use the European Commission's complaint form, on the right side of this page. (Or at the bottom of the page, if you are reading this from your mobile phone).
  • If the airline does not reply, or if you get a reply that you are not happy with, please contact ECC Sweden.

Right to a refund or rebooking of your flight

If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to:

  • a refund for the part of the ticket that you have not been able to use or
  • rebooking of your flight, so that you arrive as soon as possible, (or at another time suitable for you)

The airline is obligated to inform you about your rights as an air passenger, directly at the airport. They have to provide the choice of either rebooking of your flight, or cancellation. This applies, regardless of the cause of the cancellation, and regardless of when you have received information on the cancelled flight.

Service and assistance

Regardless of the cause of the cancelled flight, you always have the right to receive service and assistance if your flight is cancelled. The airline have to let you use the phone to call someone or to send a text message, or e-mail, if you wish to do so. They should also offer you food and drinks.

Should it be necessary to stay overnight, the airline is required to pay for accommodation and the transport between the airport and the hotel. You do have to limit your costs, however.

Compensation for necessary purchases

You can be compensated for purchases that you have made due to the delay. It is important, therefore, that you save all of your receipts. Please, be aware of that you are required to limit your costs. The airline does not always have to compensate you for your economic damage. If the airline can prove that it has done all that can be required to prevent the damage, or if the airline can prove that it was impossible to take such measures, it does not have to compensate you for your costs.

No compensation for pain and suffering

You can not require economic compensation for psychological distress, the inconvenience of having to wait, or feelings of discomfort due to the cancelled flight.

You may have the right to standard compensation from the airline

According to EU regulations standard compensations can be paid:

  • 250 euro for all flights not exceeding 1 500 kilometers
  • 400 euro for all flights within the EU longer than 1 500 kilometers and for all other flights between 1 500 and 3 500 kilometers.
  • 600 euro for all other flights, covered by EU regulations.

Exceptions from the right to standard compensation

If the flight has been rebooked to another time, you may not be entitled to compensation. This depends on when you were informed about the new flight time, and how big the time difference is between the new flight time and the original one.

You are not entitled to compensation if:

  • you have received information about the change more than 2 weeks before scheduled departure. It does not matter what the new departure time is, or what the new arrival time is.
  • you have received information about the change 2 weeks - 7 days before scheduled departure, and the new travel time is set to a maximum of 2 hours before the original departure. The new arrival time has to be 4 hours after the original arrival time at the latest.
  • you have received information about the change less than 7 days before scheduled departure, and the new travel time is one hour before the original arrival time at the most.
  • you have been informed that the flight is cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances.

Half of the standard compensation

Even if you are entitled to standard compensation, the amount can be reduced by half if the airline rebooks you to another flight. The arrival time for the new flight can not exceed the original arrival time more than a certain amount of hours, depending on the length of the flight.

In these cases, the standard compensation can be reduced by half:

  • If the flight distance is not more than 1 500 kilometers, the compensation is 250 euro. But if the delay is less than 2 hours, compared to the original time, you will be compensated half, that is 125 euro.
  • If the flight distance is more than 1 500 kilometers within EU, or if you fly 1 500 - 3 500 km outside of EU, the compensation is 400 euro. But if the delay is less than 3 hours, compared to the original time, you will be compensated half, that is 200 euro.
  • If the flight distance is more than 3 500 kilometers outside of EU and is covered by EU regulations, the compensation is 600 euro. But if the delay is less than 4 hours, compared to the original time, you will be compensated half, that is 300 euro.

In extraordinary circumstances, you are not entitled to standard compensation

The airline is not required to compensate passengers with standard compensation if the cancelled flight is due to "extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided, even if all reasonable measures had been taken".

Examples of extraordinary circumstances are:

  • political instability
  • weather conditions that make it impossible to fly
  • security risks
  • unforeseen flight safety shortcomings
  • strikes that affect the airline activity

There are no definite situations that are always extraordinary. This is assessed in each individual case.