Compensation in case of extraordinary circumstances

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Travelers know it all too well: you are standing at the airport, ready for that long-awaited vacation or important business trip, and suddenly you learn that your flight has been canceled or delayed. Such a situation can be extremely frustrating for travelers, especially if the flight has been cancelled or delayed due to an extraordinary circumstance.

What are extraordinary circumstances?

In this article, we would like to address the issue of extraordinary circumstances and provide you with some important information and tips. According to the European Air Passenger Rights Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004, airlines can be exempted from the obligation to compensate for flight cancellations or delays if the reason for the cancellation or delay is due to extraordinary circumstances. Such circumstances are events that are beyond the control of the airline and cannot be avoided even by taking reasonable measures.

Typical examples of extraordinary circumstances are natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, extreme weather conditions such as storms or floods, political unrest, terrorist attacks or strikes by airport personnel or air traffic control. As a rule, the circumstances must be unexpected and unforeseeable.

Extraordinary circumstances - am I entitled to compensation?

If a flight is cancelled or delayed due to extraordinary circumstances, the airline does not have to pay compensation to the affected passengers. However, it is obliged to offer passengers alternative transportation to their destination or to cover the cost of an alternative itinerary. In addition, airlines must inform passengers of their rights and, if necessary, assist them with meals, accommodation and transportation to the airport or accommodation.

However, it is important to note that airlines are not always able to provide alternative flights, especially during events that have a significant impact on flight operations. In such cases, there may be significant delays and passengers may need to arrange alternate itineraries or accommodations at their own expense. It is also important to find out the actual reason for the flight delay or cancellation. Some airlines cite weather or other unforeseen circumstances as the reason, but perhaps the real reason was a technical defect or staff shortage. If you submit your case to us at, we can investigate the weather and airport conditions, and if this was not the true reason for the delay or cancellation, we will claim your compensation for you. MYFLYRIGHT offers free advice and a compensation calculator to enforce your air passenger rights. In case of success we charge 25% commission plus VAT. If we have to engage our external lawyers, we charge a surcharge of 10%.

Extraordinary circumstances - what to do?

When a flight is cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances, passengers should first try to contact the airline to arrange alternative flights or a refund. If the airline is unable to provide an appropriate solution, passengers can file a complaint or take legal action to obtain compensation.

It is important to note that the burden of proof in such cases lies on the airline to prove that the flight was cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances and no compensation is due. Passengers should therefore gather all relevant information, such as photographs of announcements at the airport or communications from the airline, to support their claims.

Compensation rights by route

If the airline has not stated the real reason for the delay or cancellation, and it is not exactly extraordinary circumstances, you can file your case with us. To find out if you are entitled to compensation and to calculate the amount of compensation, the following variables must be taken into account: the airline you are flying with, the country of departure and the country of destination. There are certain criteria that must be met, according to the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation, in order to be able to invoke it for compensation claims. The scope for EU passenger rights under EC Regulation 261/2004 includes the following cases:

  • The flight is within the EU, whether the airline is headquartered in the EU or not.
  • The flight departs from an EU country and the destination airport is in a non-EU country, regardless of where the headquarters of the airline are.
  • The flight departs from a non-EU country and lands in an EU country, providing the airline is headquartered in the EU.

The table below outlines the flight routes which are covered by the EU Regulation.

Flight delays, flight cancellations, flight overbookings, flight rebookings and missed connecting flights are covered by the EU regulation. You can find more information in our articles Flight delay, Flight cancellation, Flight overbooking, Flight change and Missed connection flight.

Exceptional circumstances - additional expenses

In summary, flight cancellations and delays due to extraordinary circumstances can be extremely annoying for passengers, but in many cases airlines are exempt from the obligation to compensate. Nevertheless, passengers have the right to alternative transportation or reimbursement and should contact the airline or an attorney to assert their rights if necessary. It is important that airlines do everything possible to minimize the impact on passengers, even in extraordinary circumstances, and provide them with adequate information and assistance. Here is a summary of rights and benefits in the event of a flight cancellation or delay:

Exceptional circumstances: rights for package tours

Even during package tours where flights, accommodation and activities are bundled, travelers enjoy the protection of the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation and can claim compensation of up to 600 € in the event of flight disruption, if the true reason for the delay or cancellation is not due to extraordinary circumstances. If the destination is reached more than 4 hours later, travelers are also entitled to a price reduction and can claim this. The Frankfurt table provides a guideline for possible price reductions against the tour operator, based on rulings by the Frankfurt Regional Court. However, the table is not legally binding, and each case is evaluated individually.

Exceptional circumstances - ticket reimbursement

In order to get a refund of your airline ticket, it is crucial to be informed about your rights and to know what services must be provided by the airline. These include compensation of up to 600 €, as well as a full refund of the ticket price or a refund for unused legs of the journey and a free return flight to the original departure airport, as early as possible. This only applies in the case that the airline has not honestly stated the true reason for the delay or cancellation, and it is not really exceptional circumstances. You can find more information in our article Ticket Refund.


If you had a flight delay or cancellation and you are not quite sure about the real reason, you can always contact MYFLYRIGHT. To avoid the financial risk as well as the time-consuming and stressful process of the procedure, you can delegate your case to us. We are experts in air passenger rights and can help you to get the compensation you are entitled to. If you wish, MYFLYRIGHT will pursue your case against the airline without any cost risk. Just enter your flight details at and we will do the work for you, without any cost risk.

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Flight cancellation

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Denied boarding

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Flight delay

In case of a 3 hours flight delay at arrival

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Flight cancellation

In case of a cancelled flight 14 days before departure

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Denied boarding

In case of overbooking / denied boarding

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Delayed / Lost luggage

In case of arriving without the luggage

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Ticket refund

In case of a missed / not boarded flight

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Get up to 600 €* in compensation