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Six days before the departure of an intra-EU flight connection (total duration 4 hours) I was notified that the ticket was rebooked: new departure and arrival are both 3.5 hours earlier than the original ones.

I am wondering what are my rights in this situation. Am I entitled to a refund? Are there any rules or case law about additional compensation in such cases? I chose the later connection due to commitments I cannot avoid and of course it is more costly to buy a new ticket for a convenient time just a few days in advance.

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    Please edit the question to include the airline name, and the departure and arrival airports. Sep 8 at 23:49
  • 1
    Have you asked to be rebooked at a later time than the original time?
    – Willeke
    Sep 9 at 12:24
  • If you tell us the flight involved it may be possible to give you more specific advice.
    – jcaron
    Sep 9 at 15:03

2 Answers 2

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As this is an intra-EU flight, you are covered by EC261, a European regulation which protects air passengers in case of delays, cancellations and more.

The reference site for most question related to EC261 is the EU’s Air Passenger Rights website.

It tells us in the FAQ that:

A flight which has been brought forward by more than one hour is considered a cancelled flight. You have the same rights as in case of a flight cancellation.

So you look up your rights in case of a cancellation, which are:

The airline must offer you, on a one off basis, a choice between:

  • the reimbursement of your ticket and, if you have a connecting flight, a return flight to the airport of departure at the earliest opportunity
  • re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or,
  • re-routing at a later date at your convenience under comparable transport conditions, subject to the availability of seats.

Note that “at the earliest opportunity” sometimes means “even if they have to rebook you on another airline at their expense”, but it’s unclear (to me, at least), when this is actually enforceable (and I don’t know if in your case there would indeed be a better alternative for you on another airline).

Obviously if there is another flight on the same day which is better for you you can ask to be rebooked on that one instead. Note that “at the earliest opportunity” most definitely means “even if there’s only availability in a higher class of service”, if the airline has multiple classes of service.

Since you were notified less than 14 days in advance, you may also be owed compensation.

The rules are a bit complex depending on what option you pick, the time difference and the distance, but may vary between 125 and 400 euros.

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Depends a bit on your specific airline and fare rules of the ticket but in general you have the right to a refund and/or rebooking (if that's possible).

You are probably also entitled to compensation under EU 261 (departure earlier than 1 hour and less than 7 days notification.

See for example: https://thepointsguy.com/news/eu261-early-flights-compensation/

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