Airlines Claim EU Delay Compensation Is Disproportionate

Arguably one of the best things for travellers in the EU is the easy access to compensation should something go wrong. This, however, isn’t so great for airlines, who can be forced to shell out hundreds. Now, The Independent reports that airlines are claiming EU compensation regulations are unfair.

Flight Compensation
Jet2’s owner believes current regulations are disproportionate. Photo: Ken Fielding via Wikimedia

EU-261 is the name for a regulation which permits passengers access to compensation should their flight be delayed by at least three hours, or boarding denied. Depending on the circumstances, airlines could owe up to €280,000 for a flight.

What is EU261?

EU261 is the European regulation covering compensation in the case of flight delays. While it details the payout passengers can receive when inconvenienced, it also lays out the rules for how passengers should be taken care of in such events, from food to hotels.

Let us take the example of a cancelled flight. Say the last flight from Frankfurt to London is cancelled, and you have been lucky enough to get on the next morning’s flight, the airline with which you are travelling is required to provide you with a hotel room, and food vouchers.

Flight Compensation
Nobody likes delayed and cancelled flights, especially passengers. Photo: Jan Vašek via Pixabay

In fact, around a year ago, the Simple Flying team found themselves in this exact situation with a low-cost carrier. While no compensation was due as the cancellation was deemed out of the carrier’s hands, the airline was required to place us in a hotel overnight. The airline was also required to cover our food and drinks expenses (within reason) between the cancelled flight and the new flight.

Had the cancellation been in the airline’s hands, we would have been entitled to compensation in addition to this. Compensation can range from €250-€600 depending on the flight. In this case, we had paid around £40 for the flight, so would’ve made a huge profit had compensation been paid.

Flight Compensation
Jet2’s owners think the EU should “review the rules and make them proportionate”. Photo: Russell Lee via Wikimedia


Philip Meeson, Jet2’s owner’s executive chairman believes the current system should change. Should a claim be denied, passengers are able to contest this, however, should a claim be granted by a third party the airline can not appeal.

These compensation claims can be huge with around £3 per passenger being used for Jet2’s compensation claims in 2018. While a serious delay could warrant a payout, a two-hour delay may not necessarily be worth €250. Especially when the ticket may only have been worth one-tenth of this figure. This could be why Mr Meeson claimed that current rules are disproportionate.

Do you think required payouts are fair on airlines? Should there be reform? Let us know in the comments!