The EU regulations on Air passenger rights describe when you are entitled to compensation for delay:

If your flight is delayed at departure, you have the right to assistance, to reimbursement and a return flight, depending on the duration of the delay and the distance of the flight.
If you arrived at your final destination with a delay of more than 3 hours, you are entitled to compensation, unless the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances.

or for downgrade:

If you are downgraded, you are entitled to reimbursement of a percentage of the price of your ticket, depending on the flight distance as follows: ...

Yesterday 8 May I happened to notice on the KLM website that my non-stop international flight AMS-SFO (operated by KLM/Delta) of 18 May is canceled. I did not receive notice (it is 9 May now, so maybe it is pending). I received an email late on 9 May. They booked me for an flight with a stop-over in Detroit that leaves 45 minutes later, but I will arrive 6:15 hours later in SFO.

Does this count as either a delay or a downgrade that I can claim compensation for?

I have gone through both EU Regulation on air passenger rights and European Commission Interpretative Guidelines on air passenger rights but the texts regarding cancellation are not obvious IMO.

Under Scope paragraph 2 it says that the rules

... shall apply on the condition that passengers:
(a) [skip]; or
(b) have been transferred by an air carrier or tour operator from the flight for which they held a reservation to another flight, irrespective of the reason.

Under Cancellation it says

In case of cancellation of a flight, the passengers concerned shall:
(a) [skip]
(b) [skip]
(c) have the right to compensation by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 7, unless:
(i) [skip]; or
(ii) they are informed of the cancellation between two weeks and seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than two hours before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than four hours after the scheduled time of arrival;

(ii) applies to me

I can quote more text parts from these two documents, but I think that goes to far here.


  • Did I obtain re-routing under satisfactory conditions? (BTW they also use the term comparable transport conditions)
  • I did not get a reason for the cancellation.
  • Of course, I can only apply for compensation after my actual flight.

As for downgrading, how do I find out if I am placed in a class lower than that for which the ticket was purchased?

  • 1
    You are jumping the gun. You are not all clear to receive compensation yet. At this point they can go ahead and notify you and still change your current flight to satisfy the +/- 2 hr and +/- 4hr criteria criteria under the second or third clause. You will not be certain you will receive compensation until the most extreme clause i.e the airline notifies the passengers less than one week prior to departure, and re-routes passengers so that they can: depart no more than one hour earlier than scheduled, and arrive no more than two hours later than scheduled is violated. May 9, 2017 at 14:09
  • @SheikPaulofOsawatomie It's not that I intend to claim anything now. I know where and when to do that.
    – user40521
    May 9, 2017 at 14:39
  • I have some trouble understanding what's confusing you. Are you hoping to get more than €600 because you find a stopover less convenient than a direct flight? I see no reason why article 10 would apply (and some implicit reasons why it would not) but the most relevant is article 7.
    – Relaxed
    May 9, 2017 at 21:37

1 Answer 1


It seems like a straightforward case and EU compensation does apply. Your flight has been cancelled so article 5(1)(a) gives you a choice between

  • getting a refund under article 8(1)(a)
  • using the ticket under the new conditions they offer under article 8(1)(b)
  • flying later under article 8(1)(c)

Since 6 hours and 15 min after the scheduled time of arrival is too late to avoid paying compensation under article 5(1)(c)(ii) or paying a reduced compensation under article 7(2)(c) and unless they claim “extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken”, you are also entitled to €600 under article 7(1)(c). Note that the clauses of article 5(1) are joined by “and”, implying that you are entitled to compensation even if you choose not to fly.

I don't see anything confusing about that and the other two issues, downgrade and “comparable transport conditions”, do not change anything to this. Specifically:

  • The clause about “comparable transport conditions” has little teeth, I think it's about preventing egregious abuse and not giving the airlines the option of choosing to pay instead of providing transport at all. The choice should be yours and by offering an alternative that brings you to your destination a few hours later on the same airline, they have almost certainly satisfied that.

  • I don't think the downgrade article has been tested much but I see no reason to think it means anything else than another cabin (e.g. economy instead of business). It has little bearing on the whole article 5-8 business and thinking you should get something on top of the usual compensation because there is a stopover when that notion is nowhere to be found in the regulation and the flight they offer really isn't that bad sounds like wishful thinking.

    In fact the language of the regulation and especially article 8(1)(b) put a strong obligation on airlines to do the best they can to get you to your destination quickly even if that means using another route. But they should probably allow you to take a direct flight the next day or later if you prefer that.

On the other hand, the EUCJ made a mess of articles 5 and 6 in Sturgeon so maybe you can have a few years of fun in court and convince it to create a new compensation out of whole cloth if you are so inclined.

  • (OP:) I just checked with the procedure on euclaim.nl and it states Your flight does not fall under regulation 261/2004. No further info, I'll have to do some more digging.
    – user40521
    Jun 22, 2017 at 19:14

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