Your rights when you fly

If an airline delays or cancels your flight, or something goes wrong while you’re travelling, it pays to know what your rights are

Under EU law, you have significant rights on many flights to, from or within the European Union. This page will help you understand when the law applies and what you are entitled to if your flight doesn’t go as planned.

The law covers many flights to and from EU airports

To be covered by EU law, your flight must be either:

departing from an EU airport and operated by any airline,

or

arriving at an EU airport and operated by an EU airline

Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

If you book with one airline but fly with another (a ‘codeshare flight’) then it’s the nationality of the airline operating the flight that counts.

Not covered?

If your flight isn’t covered by EU law, you may still be entitled to assistance.

The length of your flight is important

The length of your flight determines many of your rights, so it’s a good idea to check which category your flight falls into:

  • Short-haul flights under 1,500km
    For instance, Edinburgh to Dublin.
  • Medium-haul flights between 1,500km — 3,500km
    For instance, Manchester to Marrakesh.
  • Long-haul flights over 3,500km
    For instance, London to New York.

The distance is sometimes shown on your flight confirmation. Alternatively, you can check it online.

Delayed flights: your rights

If your flight is delayed, EU law says your airline must provide food, drink and accommodation. See specific information about:

Cancelled flights: your rights

If your flight has been cancelled, your airline must offer you the choice of a refund or alternative flight. See specific information about:

Being bumped: your rights

If an airline has overbooked a flight or uses a smaller plane than it planned, it sometimes asks or forces passengers to give up their seat. This is called being ‘bumped’ or denied boarding.

Your rights when bumped from a flight

Being downgraded: your rights

If your airline forces you to fly in a lower class than the one you booked (for instance, economy instead of business), you are entitled to a refund of the difference in price.

The table below shows how this is calculated:

Length of journey

Reimbursement

Up to 1500km

30% of the price of the ticket

1500-3500km

50% of the price of the ticket

More than 3500km

75% of the price of the ticket

 

Your rights when downgraded

Missed connections: your rights

If your journey involves more than one flight and you have a through ticket (a single ticket which covers more than one flight), your airline may have to look after you if you miss your connection.