smartphone on a suitcase in an airport.

Flight delay compensation—are you covered for setbacks?

6 min read

There are lots of reasons for airport delays—bad weather, security issues, airport construction, or traffic disruptions are just a few examples. Flight delays can be especially tricky if you have connecting flights to catch or a tight schedule, but savvy travelers will tell you that there are several ways to get flight delay compensation. From your own insurance providers to EU regulations, read on to learn everything you need to know about flight delay compensation.

How common are flight delays?

Flight delays are a more common occurrence than you might think. According to the US Bureau of Transportation, 19.8% of flights were delayed in 2019—that’s nearly one out of every five flights.

Delayed flights are also a regular issue at European airports, so most travelers seem to think they’re just an inconvenient fact of life. A survey by the Berlin-based claims-management company AirHelp found that 85% of European air travelers aren’t aware that they could be owed financial compensation after facing flight delays. 

Are you eligible for flight delay compensation?

The good news is that European travelers do have rights when it comes to delayed flights. It’s all thanks to a regulation in EU law called EC 261, which requires flight delay refunds of up to €600 in some instances. 

You are eligible for flight delay compensation under EC 261 if the delay meets the following criteria:

  • Your flight is delayed by 3 hours or more
  • The delay is the airline’s responsibility, for example if there was a technical fault with the aircraft
  • Your flight took off from the EU with any airline
  • Your flight landed in the EU, and the airline was headquartered in the EU*

If you’ve had a disrupted journey that fits this criteria and you checked in on time, you may be able to claim up to €600 in funds. It doesn’t matter if the airline has given you snacks, drinks, vouchers, or any other type of gift—you are still within your rights to ask for compensation. 

What to do if you’re not eligible for flight delay compensation

Unfortunately, not all flights are protected by the EC 261 regulation. For example, flights that take off and land outside of the EU—and are not operated by EU airlines—are not covered. 

If your flight doesn’t qualify for protection under EC 261, check your compensation with a tool like AirHelp or get in touch with authorities in the countries that you travelled to and from. There may be local regulations that protect your rights as a consumer. 

N26 premium accounts offer flight delay compensation, as well as trip cancellation cover up to €10,000, to give you peace of mind when your trip doesn’t quite go to plan. 

Your life, upgraded

Live your best life with zero hidden fees, exclusive perks, travel insurance & more.
Discover N26 You (new tab)
5 different coloured N26 You debit cards.

How to file a claim for flight delay compensation

If you think you may be eligible for flight delay compensation, great! But chances are that you’ll still need to do a bit of legwork work to get your benefits. Here’s how to file a claim: 

Keep hold of evidence that proves there was a delay

If you think you’re eligible to make a claim for your flight delay, keep hold of all your paperwork and documents—especially your boarding pass. If you can, get evidence of the delay. The airline might email you about this, but in case they don’t, take a photo or video of the departures or arrivals board**. You can then use this to back up your claim.

Find out the cause of the delay

Next, you’ll need to find out the reason your flight was delayed, so make sure you ask for this from an airline employee and note it down.

Read the terms and conditions carefully before accepting any compensation

Remember, you don’t have to accept vouchers or any other gift instead of your refund. Make sure you read any paperwork carefully before you sign it, as agreeing to receive some other form of refund could mean the airline is no longer responsible for your flight delay compensation.

Get proof of all expenses you’ve incurred

Depending on the length of your delay, the airline should pay for any refreshments or potentially overnight accommodation if it’s required. If you’re not offered these, keep your receipts for anything you had to pay out yourself so you can include them in your claim. 

Check the table below to see if you’re eligible for refreshments and possibly accommodation:

Flight detailsInternal EU flights over 1500 kmNon-internal EU flights between 1
Length of the delay 3 hours or more3 hours or more4 hours or more***

Once you have all your evidence, you can either go directly to the airline or use an online eligibility checker like AirHelp. 

Alternatively, your claim might be handled by your existing travel insurance provider. N26 You or Metal customers have flight delay compensation included as part of their N26 travel insurance.

How much flight delay compensation can you claim?

Exactly how much you can claim in flight delay compensation depends on how late you arrive at your destination and the distance you were flying****. 

The airline won’t factor in how much you spent on your ticket. Your flight delay claim depends on whether the airline considers your flight short, medium, or long distance. 

Here are some examples of the different distances:

"Short distance—up to 1,500km""Medium distance—up to 3,500km""Long distance—over 3,500km"
€250 compensation €400 compensation€600 compensation
e.g., Paris to London e.g., Barcelona to St Petersburge.g., Berlin to Los Angeles

Take note of the time you arrive at your destination and when the plane door opens. This is usually the arrival time airlines will use to calculate your delay. If you have a long wait on the runway or a delay in the air, you might also be able to make a claim. 

Regulations on airline compensation

Because passenger rights for a delayed flight are protected by law in the EU, airlines must stick to tight regulations.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, your airline might offer you vouchers as an apology or offer to book an alternative flight for you, as a result of the inconvenience you experienced. Always check whether accepting these vouchers waives your right to compensation. If it does, then don’t feel pressured to accept them. 

You can still make a claim if the delay caused you to miss a connecting flight if you booked this as one trip*****. This means having one single ticket and one reservation reference for your entire journey. You can use this to make a claim and any potential compensation would apply to the journey as a whole.


Your money at N26

We believe your bank should make your life easier—not more complicated. That’s why we offer flight delay compensation to our N26 You and N26 Metal customers. You can get up to €500 if your flight is cancelled or delayed over 4 hours. Claim up to €500 if your luggage is delayed for more than 12 hours, and up to €2,000 if it goes missing altogether. Wherever you go, N26 is by your side.

What compensation can I get for flight delays?

Flight delay compensation depends on your travel route and what coverage you have in place. If your flight is due to depart from or arrive at an airport in the EU, you can claim up to €600 if you arrive at your destination more than three hours late. But even if your trip isn’t based in Europe, you can still claim up to €500 if you’re an N26 You or N26 Metal customer, thanks to our flight insurance. Check out the full insurance package available, and see which useful perks are included with your bank account.

How can I claim flight delay compensation?

First, you need to know what coverage you have. If you’re seeking flight delay compensation under the EU regulations, you can go straight to the airline. If you’d like to use the coverage provided as part of your N26 You or N26 Metal account, start the flight delay claim process right from your smartphone using the N26 app. Either way, make sure you have your documentation ready to support your claim for flight delay compensation. That means your boarding pass, evidence that your flight was delayed, and the flight delay information from the airline.

How do I get compensation for flight delays?

All travelers within the EU have the right to be compensated for flight delays in certain circumstances. If your flight is due to leave or arrive at an airport in the EU, and it’s delayed by at least three hours, you could have a valid claim. However, that’s not the only way to get peace of mind for your travels. N26 offers flight delay compensation as part of our travel insurance package for N26 You and N26 Metal customers. This allows you to claim flight delay compensation for up to €500 for delays of more than four hours.

How long does flight delay compensation take?

To help hurry along the process of getting your flight delay compensation, try to put your claim in as soon as possible. The sooner you do this, the sooner things will progress. The exact time it takes for you to get your flight delay refund depends on the airline and the organization you must go through to process your claim. There are also third-party companies that can help you get your insurance. They’ll keep the process moving for you. If you’re an N26 customer, we’ll do our best to make sure you get your refund as quickly as possible.

How long can a flight be delayed without flight delay compensation?

In the EU, a flight can be delayed for up to three hours without compensation. Under the flight delay compensation coverage that we provide for our N26 You and N26 Metal customers, it’s up to four hours. Remember, the delay counts from the moment your plane touches down and a door opens for passengers to disembark. Airlines count this as the point when people can leave the flight, so that time counts as your official arrival time. If you have a long wait on the runway at your destination, you might still be eligible for flight delay compensation.

Can I claim compensation for flight delays from the EU to the UK?

If you’ve experienced flight delays while travelling to or from the UK to the EU or other destinations, you will most likely still be able to make a compensation claim as long as your flight was operated by a UK or EU airline. The EC 261 regulation which offers up to €600 compensation previously included travel to and from the UK. Post-Brexit, the UK adopted their own law called the Air Passengers Rights and Air Travel Organisers Licensing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, which offers very similar protection to EC 261. As long as you are either leaving or entering the UK or EU, and the airline is based in the UK or EU, you will be protected by one of these laws, or possibly both.

* https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm#next-steps

** https://skyrefund.com/en/flight-delay-compensation

*** https://www.claimcompass.eu/en/passenger-rights/eu-regulation-261-2004/

**** https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/i-had-a-flight-delay-or-cancellation-can-i-get-compensation-a366S8c1zHl2

***** https://www.claimcompass.eu/en/missed-connection-compensation/

By N26

Related posts

These might also interest you
Woman reading travel guide to Paris.

How Europeans are traveling in 2022

Given the upheaval of the last few years, we took a deep dive to learn how EU residents are thinking about travel in 2022. Read on to discover our findings!

German flag and barcode.

Everything you need to know before you travel to Germany

Land of sausages, beer, and mountains, Germany has it all. Whether you're an adventure traveler, or you're looking for a family-friendly trip, here's where you should go if you travel to Germany.

Two women with shopping bags.

What exactly is duty free

Not all duty-free goods were created equal! Here’s what to buy and what to avoid to save some cash the next time you’re in the airport.