EC261 guarantees passengers the right to abandon journey if the expected delay is bigger than 5 hours.

The court decisions interpret EC261 that a delay of at least 3h (depending on the distance) is a base for a compensation as if the flight was cancelled.

Can one use these two jointly, that is: when the delay of at least 5 hours is announced, declare resignation from the journey and claim both return of the ticket price AND the fixed EC261 compensation?

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    @Irked, why? You're going to have to make alternative arrangements at short notice, incurring cost and stress. There's a reason it's called compensation. Oct 18, 2017 at 7:09
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    @Irked Well, imagine (what's probably true in 90% of the cases) that someone's flight is delayed a long time and there are many earlier flights he could take, but they are at other airlines and cost more. It seems plausible to me for the airline to cover the ticket, but as it now they are not required to do this, so someone may use compensation for that.
    – sygi
    Oct 18, 2017 at 9:54
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    Also, most of the delays could be prevented with more money for planes, emergency stuff etc. from the airline. But they don't provide it exactly because airlines are greedy and it's cheaper to pay compensation than to not have delays. Why should passengers be the ones to suffer?
    – sygi
    Oct 18, 2017 at 9:56
  • @Irked: No, the ticket prices are mostly regulated by market, and the more punctual airline can offer cheaper prices as they won't have those costs. They are only part of the cost for airlines which have lots of cancellations and delays. This is why AirBerlin (which was one of the worst) is filing for bankruptcy now. They had to pay millions in compensation due to delays - but they cannot raise ticket prices to cover it because other airlines fly the same routes cheap (and they can charge less because they do not have to pay those claims).
    – George Y.
    Oct 18, 2017 at 16:47
  • @Irked - the airlines have been filing for bankruptcy as long as I've been flying, way before the compensation was introduced. And nobody's losing money, as your canceled flights are refunded (via chargeback) - note that you're not eligible for compensation if notified 14+ days in advance about cancellation. And yes I'm happy a crappy airline would leave the market - makes potential room for better airlines.
    – George Y.
    Oct 19, 2017 at 2:12

1 Answer 1


Based on the law, my understanding is that yes, you can. The law is a bit complicated to read as it creates multiple dependencies, so we need to follow them all:

Article 6. Delay

  1. When an operating air carrier reasonably expects a flight to be delayed beyond its scheduled time of departure: ..

(iii) when the delay is at least five hours, the assistance specified in Article 8(1)(a).

We have a reference to Article 8. Now let's look at 8(1)(a):

Article 8. Right to reimbursement or re-routing

  1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered the choice between:

(a) - reimbursement within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger's original travel plan, together with, when relevant,

I highlighted the reference to Article 7, because it it important:

Article 7. Right to compensation

  1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall receive compensation

Since the reference to article 7 is made, you shall be eligible for compensation. Note that it may be reduced by 50% if the airline offers you alternative flight subject to 7(2) - which in my experience almost never happens.

PS. Some commenters think it is greedy - but there is reason for this logic in the law. If the rules for delay were just refund of the ticket, while for the cancellation the airlines would have to pay both refund and compensation, some airlines (hello R#@$@#air) would instead of canceling your flight just announce that "your flight has been now delayed for three days" as a means to avoid paying you the compensation.

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    Ah, good old R#@$@#air, how I detest them. The wife and I are off to Bordeaux in December, and have deliberately opted to go via train instead of flying with you-know-who, despite the extra cost and it taking a couple more hours. And I completely agree with your point.
    – MadHatter
    Oct 18, 2017 at 14:42
  • Your reading doesn't seem to me to make sense. Article 7(3) lists the ways in which a payment can be made: cash, bank transfer, vouchers if the passenger agrees, etc. So it seems to me that the intent of the reference in Article 8(1)(a) is just to say that the reimbursement of the ticket price is to be made by one of those means, not to require compensation in addition to reimbursement. It is true in a literal sense that a reference was made to Article 7, but it does not seem at all to be intended to trigger compensation. Nov 30, 2019 at 23:42
  • I would be curious to know if there is any court decision agreeing with your interpretation. Nov 30, 2019 at 23:43
  • Yes, you would claim compensation both for Article 6 (delay compensation) AND get your flight refunded under Article 8. The law doesn't say you have to choose one and it seem clear enough to me. I'm not aware of any court rulings regarding this, and that's why I said its "my understanding".
    – George Y.
    Dec 2, 2019 at 0:16

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