Flight Delay, Rights & Duties – Backpacking Tips

What do I have to do in case of a flight delay

You are on the way from Germany to New Zealand or on the way back and your plane is late, you miss your connecting flight or the flight is cancelled completely? 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 to do in case of a flight delay

If your flight is delayed for more than 3 hours, you are entitled to compensation. The airline does not have to pay if special circumstances such as bad weather or a natural disaster are the reason for the delay. However, technical problems or a strike are not exceptional circumstances. In these cases, the airline is responsible for compensation.

From a delay of 2 hours or more, the airline must provide you with food or give away food vouchers; in addition, the airline must allow at least two phone calls, e-mails or faxes. If the flight does not leave until the next day, you are entitled to transfer and accommodation.

If your flight has been completely cancelled, then other rules apply, which you can find here in the article under flight cancellation.


View on the flight times schedule

Photo by jeshoots on unsplash


What compensation is due to me for a delay

Depending on the length of the delay you are entitled to 250 to 600 € compensation. There are free sample letters in the internet in the event of a delay. Afterwards you simply send it to the airline and in the ideal case you will receive your compensation.

Some airlines are also happy to stubborn here, you should meet on such an airline then there are websites that have specialized in the assertion of such claims. The portals all work according to the principle of participation, which means you pay part of the compensation to the company, but have little effort and no risk. Most portals take between 15 to 30 percent of the compensation for their help.

The amount of the compensation depends on the length of the route and the delay. If you have started or landed in a European country and the airline is based in Europe.

  • At a distance up to 1500 kilometres there is a compensation of 250 €.
  • Compensation is 400 € for a flight within Europe of more than 1500 to 3500 kilometres or for take-off or landing outside Europe.
  • For distances of 3500 kilometres or more with start or finish outside Europe, there are even 600 €. However, with a delay of no more than 4 hours, the airline may reduce the compensation by 50 percent at this distance.
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In order to get compensation, it does not matter if you really did the flight or if you didn’t start the flight because of the delay.

Even if you miss your connecting flight due to the delay, you may be entitled to compensation. If you have booked the flights together in a booking, then you can also get a claim for compensation.


How do I behave correctly in the event of a flight delay

Ideally, in the event of a flight delay, you should follow these points:

  • Have the delay at the airport confirmed with a reason for the delay in writing. If you do not want to name or write a reason for the delay, then you can demand the compensation in any case.
  • Collect all receipts for food, drink, any applicable taxi or hotel costs.
  • Your claims are limited to 3 years after the flight, so you have time to get your compensation.


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, which 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.


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, that’s why you should in any case register your claims. The airline is in this case in the proof that it was an extraordinary circumstance.


Who do I have to talk to about my claims for delay

It is always the responsibility of the operating air carrier within the meaning of the Regulation. The executing company is the company that has made an offer for a particular route. Thus it carries both the responsibility for the flight, as well as for all delays. For example, if an airline charters an aircraft on another airline, it remains responsible, even for compensation for delays.

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How do I file my claims against the airline

On the Internet there are with the search term sample letter for flight delay, free forms which you only have to fill in with your data. Then you should send this letter by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt to the responsible airline. If the airline rejects your claim or does not respond, there are other ways to claim. More in the next punk.


What do I do if the airline refuses my claims

If the airline rejects your claims, or simply does not respond, then there is also professional help for you here. Some of the options are free, but require a bit more cooperation. Others take a commission, but are largely without effort.


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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