Flight Cancelling, Rights & Duties – Backpacking Tips

What to do if my flight is cancelled

You are traveling from Germany to New Zealand or on the way back and your flight is cancelled shortly before departure, you miss your connecting flight or the flight is delayed? Air travellers have a lot of rights, especially in Europe, and we want to explain to you today what options you have in these cases.


  1. First flight delay
  2. Missed connecting flight
  3. Flight cancellation


What do I do in case of cancellation of my flight?

In case of a complete cancellation of the flight you have the choice of several options. You can either have the ticket refunded in full, or have it transported to you. If the cancellation is announced less than 14 days before departure, you may be eligible for 125-600 €. Unfortunately, this compensation does not exist in exceptional circumstances. If your flight is brought forward several hours, this also counts as a cancellation and entitles you to a compensation payment. If your flight has arrived at the destination only with a delay, other rules apply. What you are entitled to in case of delay, we wrote down in another article here on the blog.


What are unusual circumstances

Extraordinary circumstances are all circumstances that the airline does not control itself. These include, for example, thunderstorms. Also, volcanic eruptions or other natural disasters can count if they affect the actual flight. Uncommon circumstances may include political unrest or other security risks in the destination country. If, for example, air traffic is interrupted due to a terrorist warning that is one reason why the airline will refuse to pay compensation. Damage caused by animals, such as bird strikes, are also exceptional circumstances.

Even strikes can be unfamiliar circumstances, but not necessarily. Here is the individual case consideration why you should register in any case, first your claims.


View in a dark waiting area at the airport

Photo by Glen Noble on unsplash


What are not unusual circumstances

No extraordinary circumstances are technical problems, or a bad preparation of the airline. For example, if only a pilot is missing or the necessary de-icing agent is not available in winter, then this is a mistake of the airline and entitles you to compensation.

Even strikes can be unfamiliar circumstances, but not necessarily. Here is the individual case consideration why you should register in any case, first your claims. The airline is in the case in the proof that it was an extraordinary circumstance.


Refund ticket price or rebooking the flight

If your flight is cancelled you have the choice of the following options:

  • You can get the full ticket price refunded
  • You have to book a flight
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Check in the event of a cancellation, first what would cost you a new flight; this is cheaper than your old ticket price, so it is worthwhile to claim the refund. If all flights cost more at the time, let the airline rebook you on an alternative flight. This may not cost you extra.

In order to easily compare the airfares, we recommend you several portals, you book afterwards best on the website of the airline itself.

For more information about finding and booking flights, visit our blog article following this link.


What is the procedure in case of cancellation

If you decide to change the booking to another flight, you will discuss the details most meaningfully with the airline. This usually books the new ticket directly for you. If the airline asks you to book the new ticket yourself, then you best leave this request in writing. Then there are no problems with the reimbursement of ticket costs.


Entitlement to refreshments and meals

If you have decided to change your flight and have to wait, the airline is obliged to take care of you. That means free refreshments and meals for the wait. The rights here are basically coincident with those in case of a delay. If your flight leaves the next day, you are also entitled to accommodation and transfer. If the airline does not offer it to you, ask the staff what they will refund you if you book something yourself.


Entitlement to compensation

If the airline has not informed you at least 14 days before departure, you may be eligible for compensation in cash form. In addition to the above two variations, rebooking or ticket reimbursement, you may be eligible for compensation ranging from € 125 to € 600. How much in detail depends on when an alternative flight starts and how long the flight is.

The sooner the airline informs you, the sooner you have to live with bigger time changes.


Which deadlines apply to the notification and a change of flight times

For a notification from 7 to 14 days prior to departure, an alternative departure may depart no more than 2 hours before the original time. The arrival may be a maximum of 4 hours after the originally planned time.

If the airline notifies you less than 7 days before departure, the alternative departure may depart less than one hour earlier. The new arrival may be a maximum of 2 hours after the original arrival. If the airline sticks to these limits, you are not usually entitled to any compensation. However, if the flight leaves earlier or arrives later than the tolerance limits mentioned above, you are entitled to compensation. This applies regardless of whether the new flight is operated by the same or another airline.

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In exceptional circumstances, these rules are unfortunately not applicable.


How can I get my compensation

First, you turn to the executive airline; this is in the case of the case once responsible. If this rejects your request, it does not answer or does not answer satisfactorily, so you have different possibilities to get your money.


Here are several ways to help:

  1. Fairplane: Fairplane is a passenger rights portal in Europe. If your flight was delayed for more than 3 hours, the flight was cancelled or overbooked, the flight was diverted or you missed your connecting flight, then Fairplane allows you to check your claims against the airline. In the case of a claim, you will receive compensation from the Fairplane for a portion of the work done. We have always been lucky with our flights, but know some of the nice sums of compensation. You can use the following link* to claim your claim for free.
  2. Flightright: Flighright is also a passenger rights portal. Just look at both sides and decide who you would like to hire. In the event of a claim against the airline, you can expect to receive between €250 – €600 in compensation per person minus commission (usually 20 – 30% plus VAT). You can try Flightright for free via the following link*.
  3. Flugrecht: A German portal for the problems with the flight already mentioned above, compare and then decide which portal will appeal to you the most. Flugrecht.de you can use the following link*.


Which of these websites you use is up to you, some take a commission for their work. The arbitration board works free of charge. Depending on how much time you want to invest yourself, you should both consider the commission level and then decide. I wish you success!


Questions, comments or ideas

Questions, comments or ideas? Then we look forward to your comment under this article. Frequent questions will be added later in the article. Thank you and have a good time in New Zealand!



* Marked links are affiliate links. This means that if you buy a service or a recommended product via one of these links, we will receive a commission. Nothing else changes for you. At the same time you support our work here in the blog.


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