EU261: Rights for Compensation

Resulting from Disrupted Flights at Schiphol Airport

By Ellie Hsu  | Metro City | April 25, 2023

Cover Illustration: Amsterdam Schipol Airport, Netherlands. 2019. Miguel Angel Sanz / Unsplash

Metro City Reporter Ellie Hsu discusses EU261 regulations, which entitle passengers to compensation, refunds and assistance in the event of delayed or canceled flights.

Flying can be an exciting and convenient way to travel, especially for students based far away from the Netherlands. In cases of delays and cancellations, it is important to know your rights as a passenger under EU Regulation 261/2004.

EU Regulation 261/2004, also known as EU261, sets out guidelines for air passengers in the case of delayed or canceled flights, including compensation, refunds and assistance. The regulation applies to all flights departing from an airport in the European Union, including Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

In 2022, there were several cases in which airlines failed to comply with EU261. KLM was fined €40,000 by the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) for failing to provide refunds to passengers for their canceled flight. In addition to KLM, Cathay Pacific Airways and Singapore Airlines each received fines of €11,800 and €22,400 respectively for the same violation.

According to the ILT, passengers are entitled to compensation in cases of delayed or canceled flights, as well as denial of boarding. Under EU261, passengers are qualified for remuneration if their flight is canceled within 14 days prior to the scheduled departure, or delayed by more than three hours. The amount of compensation depends on the length of the delay and the length of the flight, but can range from €250 to €600. For example, for a flight of fewer than 1,500 km that is delayed by more than three hours, passengers are eligible for €250. For a flight of more than 3,500 km delayed by more than four hours, passengers are entitled to €600.


Airport Departure Timetable. 2015. Matthew Smith / Unsplash

Passengers are also designated assistance if their flight is delayed or canceled. This includes free meals and refreshments, access to communication facilities (such as phone and email) and accommodation if necessary.

It is important to note that EU261 only applies in certain circumstances. If the flight is delayed or canceled due to extraordinary circumstances beyond the airline’s control, such as severe weather conditions or airport strikes, passengers may not be entitled for compensation. Therefore, if the flight delay or cancellation was caused by the staff shortage at Schiphol Airport, passengers may not be qualified for compensation since this is beyond the airline’s control. 

Passengers have up to two years to make a claim for compensation in the Netherlands. Therefore, passengers that were affected by events such as the KLM Schiphol strike back in April 2022 will still be eligible for remuneration and/or a full refund until April 2024. 

When experiencing a delay or cancellation, it is important to contact the airline immediately and request the appropriate compensation and assistance. Keep all relevant documents and receipts, such as boarding passes and receipts for expenses incurred during the delay.

When passengers find it difficult to claim reimbursement from the airline by themselves, it is also possible to reach out to flight compensation companies that provide legal services to assist passengers in claiming flight remuneration. Some of the top flight compensation companies in the Netherlands include Flight-Delayed (Vlucht-Vertraagd), Skycop and AirHelp. 

As students, it is important to be aware of your rights when traveling. EU261 provides important protections for passengers in the case of delayed or canceled flights. If you experience a delay or cancellation, don’t hesitate to contact the airline and request the appropriate remuneration and assistance.

Ellie Hsu is a university student in Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer. 

+ posts