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I recently had a flight from Valencia to London, going through Düsseldorf, cancelled. According to EU regulations there are different levels of compensation for flights below and above 1500 km in distance. I assume that this distance refers to start and end airport regardless of connection. Is this the case? I haven't found a proper definition online. Here, it would make a difference as VLC to LHR is around 1350 km, but the complete itinerary is above the 1500 km threshold.

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Yes, the relevant distance is the straight line (that is, the "great-circle distance") directly from your point of departure to your final destination.

This was ruled by the European Court of Justice in Bossen v Brussels Airlines from 2017.

  • Thank you for clarifying, that's quite straightforward. – PapayaGiver Jun 26 at 15:17
  • Strictly speaking, that ruling is irrelevant in this particular case, but it's still great to point it out for future readers. Article 7 of the Regulation explicitly states that the distance should be calculated up to the final destination by the great circle method, and Article 5 (cancellation) refers to it. The ECJ ruling clarifies that Article 7 shall also be applied to delays, even though the corresponding Article 6 doesn't say so explicitly. – TooTea Jun 26 at 15:24
  • @TooTea: Is that an amendment to the regulation? The original text from 2004 says only "The distances given in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be measured by the great circle route method." but did not unambiguously state whether that is hop-by-hop or for the entire itinerary at once. – Henning Makholm Jun 26 at 15:29
  • Nope, it's there in the last sentence of Article 7 (1): "In determining the distance, the basis shall be the last destination at which the denial of boarding or cancellation will delay the passenger's arrival after the scheduled time." The issue was that this only speaks about cancellation, not about compensations due to delays, which is why it went to the ECJ. – TooTea Jun 26 at 15:31
  • @TooTea: Hmm. A priori, there would be at least three ways to reckon the distance: a) just look at the great-circle distance of the particular flight that got delayed/canceled, b) take the GC distance directly from departure to final destination, or c) add up the individual flight lengths all the way up to the final destination. The last sentence of 7(1) plainly excludes method (a), but I think it leaves some room to argue that was all it did, such that both (b) and (c) remained plausible. However, we agree that Bossen clearly says (b), no matter if it meant that to be novel or not? – Henning Makholm Jun 26 at 15:48

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