In the EU, if you board a plane, it takes off on time, but has to fly back to the same airport due to technical issues, do you get a new ticket, a refund, some compensation, a night at a hotel?

After all, you have already taken the flight, which was on time, just not to your chosen destination.

  • Best check with your travel provider and country. They vary. I always take the helpful guide from Which? consumer group with me so I know what I am entitled to on case of problems or delays – Rory Alsop May 17 '18 at 12:58

Under EU Flight Compensation Regulation 261, you are entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed by more than a certain amount of time. In 2009, the European Court of Justice ruled that this delay applies to the "loss of time" experienced by the passenger; in other words, it's calculated as a delay of the arrival time, not the departure time. A 2014 CJEU ruling clarified this further: the delay is calculated between the scheduled arrival time and the time at which the aircraft doors open at your final destination.

Thus, passengers on a flight that was diverted or returned to its departure point would be entitled to compensation, rerouting, refunding, and/or overnight accommodation. This assumes, of course, that the length of the delay met the pertinent thresholds, and that the diversion/return was not due to meteorological factors or air traffic management.


If you are on an EU-regulated flight, the delay was the airline’s fault, and you arrived 3+ hours late at your destination, you’re entitled to compensation. Depending on the circumstances of the delay, you’re entitled to other compensation eg accommodation if the delay is overnight. This article provides some further relevant information. https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/flight-delays

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    This is just a partially incorrect, vague and incomplete general description of the regulations involved and not an answer to the question asked. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 17 '18 at 14:49
  • @Tor-Einar Jarnbjo Sorry but I disagree, the OP asked about compensation rights and I’ve answered that in a summary and provided a link to a highly respected consumer advice website (admittedly U.K. based) which has very detailed information about the topic including, if you read it, a link to a tool to identify if a traveller can claim for past delays back to 2012. – Traveller May 17 '18 at 14:57
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    My reading of the original question (particularly the second sentence) was that the OP was already aware that these compensation rights existed in some cases, but that they didn't know whether they applied in the circumstances described. If that's true, this answer doesn't add much the OP didn't already know. – Michael Seifert May 17 '18 at 15:38
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    @MichaelSeifert "you arrived 3+ hours late at your destination" seems to be new (to the OP) and highly relevant information, since their confusion seemed to be caused by thinking the delay was calculated based on departure, rather than arrival, time. – Anthony Grist May 17 '18 at 15:45
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    @AnthonyGrist Your quote is one of the incorrect parts of this answer. The required delay is at least 2, 3 or 4 hours depending on the circumstances of the flight (distance and if it is an intra-community flight or not), to be entitled to compensation. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 17 '18 at 16:02

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