This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'EU Regulation 261/2004'.


 
 
Finance and Corporate Services 
Information Management 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Mr Cook  
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx 
 
 
 
 
18 April 2012 
FOIA reference: F0001313 
 
 
Dear Mr Cook 
 
I am writing in respect of your recent application of 20 March 2012, for the release of 
information held by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). 
 
Your request: 
 
 “1. Please provide a copy of your complaints procedure – this is the procedure of how 
the CAA deals with a passengers complaint against an airline 
      
 2. Please provide a copy of your appeals procedure - this is the procedure of how the 
CAA deals with an appeal made by a passenger against a CAA decision 
      
 3.  I draw the CAA’s attention to EU Regulation 261/2004 Article 16 (1) which I copy 
below for convenience. 
 
     REGULATION (EC) No 261/2004 Article 16 Infringements. 
 

1.  Each Member State shall designate a body responsible for the enforcement of 
this Regulation as regards flights from airports situated on its territory and flights 
from a third country to such airports. Where appropriate, this body shall take the 
measures necessary to ensure that the rights of passengers are respected. The 
Member States shall inform the Commission of the body that has been 
designated in accordance with this paragraph. 

    
Do the CAA agree that they are in breach of EU Regulation 261/2004 by failing to 
enforce the regulations for individual passengers as laid out in EU Regulation 261/2004 
Article 16 (1). 
      
 4. Please provide any and all guidelines regarding the interpretation of EU Regulation 
261/2004 either produced by the CAA or provided to the CAA by a third party (e.g. a 
government  department, consultants, solicitors/barristers, the EU etc..) 
      

Civil Aviation Authority 
Aviation House  GW  Gatwick Airport South   Crawley   West Sussex   England   RH6 0YR  www.caa.co.uk 
Telephone 01293 768512   xxxx.xxxxxxxxx@xxx.xx.xx 
 

 
Page 2 
5. Please provide a copy of any studies that the CAA has undertaken or has in its 
possession regarding how other EU Countries interpret/implement EU Regulation 
261/2004”. 

 
 
Our response: 
 
In assessing your request in line with the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 
(FOIA), we are pleased to be able to provide the information below. 
 
1)  The CAA does not have a copy of an official complaints procedure. However, our 
process is detailed as below. 
  
•    Complaints are logged on the Passenger Advice & Complaints Team (PACT) 
database and assigned an individual reference number. 
•    PACT will assess the complaint and intervene on the passenger’s behalf where we 
believe the airline has not honoured its obligations or dealt with a passenger claim 
correctly.  
•    PACT will write to the complainant to advise them on their claim and any action 
that may have been taken. 
•    Airlines are given at least 28 days to reply. 
•    PACT will review the response once received and challenge the airline if required. 
•    The passenger will be updated and advised. If no response has been received, a 
chaser letter or email will be sent. 
 
2)  PACT currently has no formal appeals procedure, but we are in the process of 
formalising this. 
 
At present, if a passenger is unhappy with the outcome reached by the complaint 
handling team, they would need to contact the CAA’s Consumer Affairs Manager 
with their comments. If the passenger is still not satisfied, they may escalate further 
to the Director of Consumer and Markets or the Group Director of the Regulatory 
Policy Group at the CAA.  
 
3)  The CAA is not in breach of the Regulation. Our role involves handling passenger 
complaints and enforcing the legislation.  We assist passengers who have been 
unable to resolve their complaints and mediate with the airline to try and reach a 
solution.  Where we are unable to resolve the complaint we record the details and 
this information is reviewed by the CAA to consider the issues for possible 
enforcement action.  It is not possible for the CAA to take enforcement action on the 
basis of all individual complaints.  We therefore prioritise our enforcement work to 
deliver the most benefit for consumers.  Further details on how we prioritise issues 
and our enforcement strategy is set out below. 
 
4)  We do not have internal CAA guidelines, but we publish a range of information on 
our website about our consumer role.  This includes our consumer strategy, how we 
prioritise issues and our enforcement approach.  The following links are to our 
Strategic Plan, Prioritisation Principles and Interim Consumer Enforcement Strategy. 
 
http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/1743/CAA%20Strategic%20Plan%202011-16%20v2.pdf 
 
http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/2107/Prioritisation%20Principles.pdf 
 
http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/2107/Interim_Consumer_Enforcement_Strategy.pdf 
 

 
Page 3 
The European Commission published some guidelines on the Regulation in 2008 
(see attached).  The Commission is currently consulting on possible revisions to the 
Regulation and has currently withdrawn the guidelines. 
 
During the volcanic ash disruption in 2010 the Commission published some further 
guidelines which can be found on the following link. 
 
http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passengers/air/doc/2011_ash-cloud-crisis-guidelines-
for-interpretation.pdf 
 
5)  A firm of consultants, Steer Davies Gleave, prepared a report for the Commission in 
2010 evaluating the 261/2004 Regulation. 
 
http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passengers/studies/doc/2010_02_evaluation_of_regula
tion_2612004.pdf 
 
There have been a number of European court judgments in relation to the 261/2004 
Regulation and these can be found on the Commission website. 
 
http://ec.europa.eu/transport/passengers/air/european_case_law_en.htm 
 
 
If you are not satisfied with how we have dealt with your request in the first instance you 
should approach the CAA in writing at:- 
 
Mark Stevens 
External Response Manager 
Civil Aviation Authority 
Aviation House 
Gatwick Airport South  
West Sussex 
RH6 0YR 
 
xxxx.xxxxxxx@xxx.xx.xx 
 
The CAA has a formal internal review process for dealing with appeals or complaints in 
connection with Freedom of Information requests.  The key steps in this process are set in 
the attachment. 

 
Page 4 
Should you remain dissatisfied with the outcome you have a right under Section 50 of the 
Freedom of Information Act to appeal against the decision by contacting the Information 
Commissioner at:- 
 
Information Commissioner’s Office 
FOI/EIR Complaints Resolution 
Wycliffe House 
Water Lane 
Wilmslow 
Cheshire 
SK9 5AF 
www.ico.gov.uk/complaints.aspx 
 
Should you wish to make further Freedom of Information requests, please use the e-form at   
http://www.caa.co.uk/foi.
 
 
Yours sincerely 
 
 
 
 
 
Rick Chatfield 
FoIA & EIR Case Manager 

 
Page 5 
 
 
 
CAA INTERNAL REVIEW & COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE 
 
 
 
The original case to which the appeal or complaint relates is identified and the case 
file is made available; 
 
The appeal or complaint is allocated to an Appeal Manager, the appeal is 
acknowledged and the details of the Appeal Manager are provided to the applicant; 
 
The Appeal Manager reviews the case to understand the nature of the appeal or 
complaint, reviews the actions and decisions taken in connection with the original 
case and takes account of any new information that may have been received.  This 
will typically require contact with those persons involved in the original case and 
consultation with the CAA Legal Department; 
 
The Appeal Manager concludes the review and, after consultation with those 
involved with the case, and with the CAA Legal Department, agrees on the course of 
action to be taken; 
 
The Appeal Manager prepares the necessary response and collates any information 
to be provided to the applicant; 
 
The response and any necessary information is sent to the applicant, together with 
information about further rights of appeal to the Information Commissioners Office, 
including full contact details. 
 
 
 
 






 
 
 
 
REGULATION 261/2004 
OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT 
AND 
OF THE COUNCIL 
OF 11 FEBRUARY 2004 
ESTABLISHING COMMON RULES ON COMPENSATION 
AND ASSISTANCE TO PASSENGERS IN THE EVENT OF 
DENIED BOARDING AND OF CANCELLATION OR  
LONG DELAY OF FLIGHTS 
EUROPEAN
COMMISSION
 
 
 
Information Document 
of Directorate-General for Energy and Transport 
 
 
Answers to Questions 
on the application 
of Regulation 261/2004 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
T h i s  do c um e n t  d oes   n ot  c o ns t i tu t e  a ny  k i n d   o f f o r m al  c om m i tm e nt   
o n   th e  p ar t   o f  t he  E u r o p ea n  C o m mi ssi o n.  
 
17 February 2008 

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
For the avoidance of doubt, IATA, AEA, ELFAA, ERA and IACA wish 
to state that this document does not necessarily reflect their views 
and that their participation at the meetings where this document was 
developed was undertaken without prejudice to the subsequent 
rights of their member airlines in the context of court proceedings. It 
is their view that each incident should be assessed on a case by 
case basis.1 
 
 
I n t r od u ct io n 
 
T h e r e   is   a   p r e s ump t i on   i n   th e   a n s wers   g i v en   b e l o w,   t ha t   e v al ua ti o n   o f   an  
i n ci d en t   b y   a   N a t io n a l   E nf or c e m en t  B o d y   ( N EB)   w i l l   b e  u n d e r ta ke n   o n   a 
c a se   b y c a se   b as is   a do p ti ng   i n  i ts  a s se s sm en t   a  t e st  o f   w he th e r   th e  
a c t io n  o f  a   p as s en g e r ,  o r  a n   ai r l in e,   m ay   b e  c o ns i de re d   r ea s on a b le   in 
t h e   c i rc um s t an c es.  
 
R e f e r en ce s   t o   t he  " R e g u la ti o n"   m e an   R e g u lat i o n   ( E C)2 6 1/ 2 00 4  u n l es s  
o t h e r w is e  s t at e d.  
 
 
I. SUBJECT OF THE REGULATION AND DEFINITIONS 
 
Article 1: Subject 
 
1. This Regulation establishes, under the conditions specified herein, minimum rights for passengers when: 
 
(a) they are denied boarding against their will; 
 
(b) their flight is cancelled; 
 
(c) their flight is delayed. 
 
2. Application of this Regulation to Gibraltar airport is understood to be without prejudice to the respective legal positions of the 
Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom with regard to the dispute over sovereignty over the territory in which the airport is 
situated. 
 
3. Application of this Regulation to Gibraltar airport shall be suspended until the arrangements in the Joint Declaration made by 
the Foreign Ministers of the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom on 2 December 1987 enter into operation. The 
Governments of Spain and the United Kingdom will inform the Council of such date of entry into operation. 
 
Article 2 Definitions 
 
For the purposes of this Regulation: 
 
(a) "air carrier" means an air transport undertaking with a valid operating licence; 
 
(b) "operating air carrier" means an air carrier that performs or intends to perform a flight under a contract with a passenger or 
on behalf of another person, legal or natural, having a contract with that passenger; 
 
(c) "Community carrier" means an air carrier with a valid operating licence granted by a Member State in accordance with the 
provisions of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2407/92 of 23 July 1992 on licensing of air carriers(5); 
 
(d) "tour operator" means, with the exception of an air carrier, an organiser within the meaning of Article 2, point 2, of Council 
Directive 90/314/EEC of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours(6); 
 
(e) "package" means those services defined in Article 2, point 1, of Directive 90/314/EEC; 
 
(f) "ticket" means a valid document giving entitlement to transport, or something equivalent in paperless form, including 
electronic form, issued or authorised by the air carrier or its authorised agent; 
 
                                                 
1 IATA (International Air Transport Association), AEA (Association of European Airlines), ELFAA (European 
Low Fares Airline Association), ERA (European Regions Airline Association), IACA (International Air Carrier 
Association) 
 
2

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
(g) "reservation" means the fact that the passenger has a ticket, or other proof, which indicates that the reservation has been 
accepted and registered by the air carrier or tour operator; 
 
(h) "final destination" means the destination on the ticket presented at the check-in counter or, in the case of directly connecting 
flights, the destination of the last flight; alternative connecting flights available shall not be taken into account if the original 
planned arrival time is respected; 
 
(i) "person with reduced mobility" means any person whose mobility is reduced when using transport because of any physical 
disability (sensory or locomotory, permanent or temporary), intellectual impairment, age or any other cause of disability, and 
whose situation needs special attention and adaptation to the person's needs of the services made available to all passengers; 
 
(j) "denied boarding" means a refusal to carry passengers on a flight, although they have presented themselves for boarding 
under the conditions laid down in Article 3(2), except where there are reasonable grounds to deny them boarding, such as 
reasons of health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation; 
 
(k) "volunteer" means a person who has presented himself for boarding under the conditions laid down in Article 3(2) and 
responds positively to the air carrier's call for passengers prepared to surrender their reservation in exchange for benefits; 
 
(l) "cancellation" means the non-operation of a flight which was previously planned and on which at least one place was 
reserved. 
 
Question 1: What criteria determine that a flight can actually be considered as 
cancelled?
 2 3 
 
A flight may generally be considered as cancelled when the flight number changes for the 
same route for which the passenger has a contract on a specific day and time schedule.  
 
A flight may experience such a long delay that it departs the day after it was scheduled and 
may therefore be given an annotated flight number (e.g. XX 1234a instead of XX 1234) to 
distinguish it from the flight of the same number on that subsequent day.  
 
[However, in this case, it could still be considered as a delayed flight and not a cancellation 
provided the delayed flight departs before the next flight on that subsequent day, where there 
is a scheduled flight that day. In their assessment of a particular case, NEB may determine a 
maximum delay value which could take into account frequency of flights and distance from 
destination]
4. 
 
 
II. SCOPE OF THE REGULATION 
 
Article 3: Scope 
 
1. This Regulation shall apply: 
 
(a) to passengers departing from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies; 
 
(b) to passengers departing from an airport located in a third country to an airport situated in the territory of a Member State to 
which the Treaty applies, unless they received benefits or compensation and were given assistance in that third country, if the 
operating air carrier of the flight concerned is a Community carrier. 
 
2. Paragraph 1 shall apply on the condition that passengers: 
 
(a) have a confirmed reservation on the flight concerned and, except in the case of cancellation referred to in Article 5, present 
themselves for check-in, 
 
- as stipulated and at the time indicated in advance and in writing (including by electronic means) by the air carrier, the tour 
operator or an authorised travel agent, 
 
or, if no time is indicated, 
                                                 
2 Under Article 1(1)(c) and Article 2(l). 
3 ECJ Cases C-402/07 and C-432/07 ongoing – awaiting final judgements 
4 Airlines are of the opinion that Article 6. 1. c. (ii) ('when the reasonably expected time of departure is at least 
the day after the time of departure ...') clearly indicates that the Regulation implicitly contemplates the notion 
that a delay may last longer than 24 hours. 
 
3

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
- not later than 45 minutes before the published departure time; or 
 
(b) have been transferred by an air carrier or tour operator from the flight for which they held a reservation to another flight, 
irrespective of the reason. 
 
3. This Regulation shall not apply to passengers travelling free of charge or at a reduced fare not available directly or indirectly 
to the public. However, it shall apply to passengers having tickets issued under a frequent flyer programme or other commercial 
programme by an air carrier or tour operator. 
 
4. This Regulation shall only apply to passengers transported by motorised fixed wing aircraft. 
 
5. This Regulation shall apply to any operating air carrier providing transport to passengers covered by paragraphs 1 and 2. 
Where an operating air carrier which has no contract with the passenger performs obligations under this Regulation, it shall be 
regarded as doing so on behalf of the person having a contract with that passenger. 
 
6. This Regulation shall not affect the rights of passengers under Directive 90/314/EEC. This Regulation shall not apply in cases 
where a package tour is cancelled for reasons other than cancellation of the flight. 
 
Question 2: Are overseas countries and territories to which the provisions of part IV of 
the EC Treaty apply and which are mentioned in Annex II thereto5 supposed to be 
treated as third countries for the application of the Regulation?    
 
Yes. Article 80 of the EC Treaty, and consequently any regulations based on that provision, 
do not apply to the countries and territories mentioned in Annex II of the EC Treaty. Instead, 
those countries and territories are subject to the special association arrangements laid down 
in accordance with Part IV of the EC Treaty. 
 
On the other hand, under Article 299(2) of the EC Treaty, the provisions of the Treaty do 
apply to overseas departments, namely Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Martinique, Reunion 
Island, the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands. 
 
Question 3: Do passengers flying to the EU from a third country who have already 
received compensation and/or assistance at the point of departure lose their rights 
under the provision of the Regulation?6 
 
The Regulation does not apply to non-EU air carriers' flights into the EU.  
 
The Regulation applies to operating air carriers licensed in a Member State of the EU 
(Community carrier) flying from outside the EU into the EU and to passengers (including non-
EU citizens) using such flights. 
 
However, these passengers are not entitled to the provisions of the Regulation where 
benefits or compensation and assistance are given on the basis of local regulations in non-
EU countries. The legislation of the third country always needs to be respected.  
 
If such local legislation does not exist in a third (non-EU) country, the Regulation will apply in 
full. 
                                                 
5 Namely Greenland, New Caledonia and Dependencies, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic 
Territories, Wallis and Futuna Islands, Mayotte, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles 
(Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten), Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, South 
Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Saint Helena and Dependencies, British Antarctic 
Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Turks and Caicos Islands, British Virgin Islands, Bermuda. 
6 Under Article 3(1)(a) and (b). See also Article 3(5). 
 
4

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
Question 4: Does the Regulation apply to an incident at a connecting point on the 
territory of a third country, for a journey which started on the territory of the EU and 
whose next ticketed point is a third country? 
 
No, such incident takes place on the territory of a third country for a flight not to a point of 
destination in the EU. The Regulation does not apply. 
 
Question 5: Does the Regulation apply to all types of flights on all air carriers?7   
 
No. the Regulation does not apply to passengers travelling by helicopter or on a chartered 
private aircraft. 
 
 
III. DENIED BOARDING 
 
Article 4: Denied boarding 
 
1. When an operating air carrier reasonably expects to deny boarding on a flight, it shall first call for volunteers to surrender their 
reservations in exchange for benefits under conditions to be agreed between the passenger concerned and the operating air 
carrier. Volunteers shall be assisted in accordance with Article 8, such assistance being additional to the benefits mentioned in 
this paragraph. 
 
2. If an insufficient number of volunteers come forward to allow the remaining passengers with reservations to board the flight, 
the operating air carrier may then deny boarding to passengers against their will. 
 
3. If boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the operating air carrier shall immediately compensate them in 
accordance with Article 7 and assist them in accordance with Articles 8 and 9. 
 
Question 6: Can passengers who have been refused boarding because of inadequate 
or missing documents relating to their identity be granted compensation?8 9 
 
No. A case of denied boarding under the terms of the Regulation would not exist where an 
airline has reasonable grounds to refuse boarding to passengers, such as for reasons of 
health, safety or security, or due to inadequate travel documentation10. The Regulation would 
not apply in such cases.  
 
However, passengers are occasionally denied boarding due to errors by ground staff in 
checking their travel documents. Whilst such incidents will undoubtedly be an honest 
mistake, a passenger with valid documentation would be denied boarding and therefore be 
entitled to the provisions of the Regulation. 
 
Question 7: On connecting flights, passengers often present themselves with already 
confirmed seat numbers received at first check-in. Where such passengers arrive later 
than scheduled for their connection, airline companies sometimes give those seats to 
stand-by passengers on a waiting list. Can such a situation be considered as a denied 
boarding incident? 11 
 
The Regulation applies to passengers that have a confirmed reservation on the flight 
concerned and, except in the case of cancellation referred to in Article 5, present themselves 
                                                 
7 Articles 3.3, 3.4 and 2(a-c) 
8 See also Articles 3.2 and 3.3.  
9 Airlines are of the opinion that the Regulation does not apply if the airline has reasonable grounds to refuse 
boarding (even in case of errors by ground staff). The wording "reasonable grounds" allows a margin for 
personal judgment on the part of ground staff and thus for an honest mistake. 
10 Provided by Article 2(j). 
11 See also Articles 3(2)(a) and 3(3).  
 
5

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
on time for check-in. When passengers have been through-checked, they have an obligation 
to arrive at the gate on time for boarding. This applies to both departing and connecting 
passengers. 
 
However, if a connecting passenger holds a boarding card and is able to present himself for 
boarding at the time indicated at the gate and is refused boarding, this needs to be 
considered as a case of denied boarding.  
 
Question 8: What kind of benefits should be offered to volunteers who surrendered 
their reserved seats? 12 
 
The Regulation does not stipulate the nature of these benefits, except that they must be 
agreed between the passenger concerned and the operating air carrier, and cannot replace 
the assistance mentioned in Article 8. Such assistance is additional to these benefits. 
 
Volunteers should be provided with full information in writing (Article 14) before they are 
given a choice13. 
 
 
IV. CANCELLATION 
 
Article 5: Cancellation 
 
1. In case of cancellation of a flight, the passengers concerned shall: 
 
(a) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 8; and 
 
(b) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 9(1)(a) and 9(2), as well as, in event of re-routing 
when the reasonably expected time of departure of the new flight is at least the day after the departure as it was planned for the 
cancelled flight, the assistance specified in Article 9(1)(b) and 9(1)(c); and 
 
(c) have the right to compensation by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 7, unless: 
 
(i) they are informed of the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure; or 
 
(ii) they are informed of the cancellation between two weeks and seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are 
offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than two hours before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their 
final destination less than four hours after the scheduled time of arrival; or 
 
(iii) they are informed of the cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, 
allowing them to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less 
than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival. 
 
2. When passengers are informed of the cancellation, an explanation shall be given concerning possible alternative transport. 
 
3. An operating air carrier shall not be obliged to pay compensation in accordance with Article 7, if it can prove that the 
cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had 
been taken. 
 
4. The burden of proof concerning the questions as to whether and when the passenger has been informed of the cancellation 
of the flight shall rest with the operating air carrier. 
 
Question 9: What amount of compensation is applicable if a connecting flight is 
cancelled? 14 
 
The compensation depends on the distance of the cancelled flight, calculated from the point 
at which the cancellation occurred to the destination at which the cancellation will delay the 
                                                 
12 See Article 4(1).  
13 Airlines are of the opinion that Article 14(2) does not apply to volunteers. Article 14(2) refers to an actual case 
of denied boarding whereas the call for volunteers occurs before this and takes place in situations where a carrier 
only reasonably expects to deny boarding, as per Article 4(1). 
14 Article 5(1)(c).  
 
6

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
passenger’s arrival. The interruption of a flight at an intermediate point cannot be considered 
as a cancellation. 
 
[Exception could arise if the two parts of a journey with an intermediate point can clearly be 
deemed a single “flight” (e.g. when passengers do not change aircraft). In such a case, the 
carrier should compensate for the total distance rather than for the distance between the 
intermediate point and the final destination15]. 
 
Question 10: When a return flight is cancelled before departure of the outbound flight, 
what is to be reimbursed to a passenger who decides not to travel? 
 
If the passenger decides not to travel, he/she can claim reimbursement of the whole ticket. 
 
Question 11: What assessment criteria are used for accepting extraordinary 
circumstances?17   
 
Article 5(3) must be interpreted in the light of Recitals 14 and 15 of the Regulation. The 
Montreal Convention, which uses a similar concept, can also provide some guidance for 
assessment. 
 
The consequences to aircraft operations of weather conditions and technical deficiencies 
must be taken into account, since safety and security are overriding objectives that must be 
guaranteed. The burden of proof concerning a cancellation and whether it is caused by 
extraordinary circumstances rests with the operating air carrier. 
 
Question 12: What procedure should a National Enforcement Body follow in order to 
decide whether extraordinary circumstances occurred or not? 18 
 
According to Article 5(3), air carriers carry the burden of proof. If information provided by 
airlines is of a coherent and detailed character, NEB are left with a margin of flexibility and 
are free to apply a system of random checks. Such acceptance of proof respects the 
principle of proportionality. If however, information is only provided in a generalised manner 
not allowing NEB to draw sound judgements, incidents have to be followed up by requesting 
for example, as matter of proof, logbooks, incident reports, maintenance manuals etc. Air 
carriers will notify contact-points to NEB for internal communication.  
 
Question 13: How should an NEB assess a justification by airlines stating that 
meteorological conditions are 'incompatible with the operation of the flight'? 
 
 
Weather conditions are by their nature unpredictable and it is not therefore possible to create 
an exhaustive list of the circumstances that may lead to weather related disruption. In 
evaluating an incident, an NEB has to bear in mind that the safety of flight operations has to 
be the overarching priority and should therefore consider each incident on its own merits. A 
NEB should adopt the test of whether the actions of an airline were "reasonable" in the 
circumstances based on the information available to the airline at the time of the disruption. 
                                                 
15 See also the Judgement of Hamburg's Amtgericht of 28 February 2006, which decided that an incident in Paris 
for a Lisbon-Paris-Hamburg journey opened the right to compensation on the whole journey, because one single 
boarding card had been emitted. 
17 Article 5.3  
18 Article 5.3 
 
7

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
Question 14: Can a strike be considered as an extraordinary circumstance? 
 
Yes, under certain conditions. Recital 14 of the Regulation states that strikes can constitute 
extraordinary circumstances. A case-by-case assessment will remain crucial taking into 
account all relevant jurisprudence and legislation in force in the country of the incident.  
 
Question 15: Can denied boarding caused by a shift to a smaller aircraft be considered 
as an extraordinary circumstance? 
 
No, since the Regulation does not provide for extraordinary circumstance in the case of 
denied boarding. 
 
 
V. DELAY 
 
Article 6: Delay 
 
1. When an operating air carrier reasonably expects a flight to be delayed beyond its scheduled time of departure: 
 
(a) for two hours or more in the case of flights of 1500 kilometres or less; or 
 
(b) for three hours or more in the case of all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres and of all other flights 
between 1500 and 3500 kilometres; or 
 
(c) for four hours or more in the case of all flights not falling under (a) or (b), passengers shall be offered by the operating air 
carrier: 
 
(i) the assistance specified in Article 9(1)(a) and 9(2); and 
 
(ii) when the reasonably expected time of departure is at least the day after the time of departure previously announced, the 
assistance specified in Article 9(1)(b) and 9(1)(c); and 
 
(iii) when the delay is at least five hours, the assistance specified in Article 8(1)(a).  
 
2. In any event, the assistance shall be offered within the time limits set out above with respect to each distance bracket. 
 
Question 16: When is an airline deemed reasonably to expect that a flight will be 
delayed beyond its scheduled time of departure, and therefore be deemed to take the 
necessary action?
 19 
 
The key phrase here is “reasonably expects”. The operating airline must start to arrange 
assistance as soon as it receives information that leads it to reasonably expect that the 
actual flight will be delayed for at least two, three or four hours (depending on the length of 
the flight). 
 
Question 17: What are the rights of the passenger if she/he chooses not to continue 
his/her journey because of a delay of at least five hours? 20 
 
If the passenger chooses not to continue his/her travel, he/she will ask the airline to cancel 
his/her reservation. He or she would then be entitled to a refund, within 7 days, of the cost of 
the parts of the journey not made. 
                                                 
19 Article 6(1). 
20 Article 6(1)(c)(iii). 
 
8

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
The obligation of an air carrier stops when the reservation is cancelled resulting in the 
passenger no longer being entitled to assistance 
 
If the delay occurs at a connecting point, and if the flight no longer serves any purpose, then 
the passenger is also entitled to a free flight back to the first point of departure. 
 
If the delay occurs before the start of the outbound or return leg, then there is no first point of 
departure to return to and therefore no entitlement to a return flight. 
 
For example on a London-Amsterdam-Sydney return flight: 
 
Outbound: 
•  If the delay occurs in London – refund only, no additional flight appropriate. 
•  If the delay occurs in Amsterdam – refund plus flight back to London. 
 
Return: 
•  If the delay occurs in Sydney – refund for the parts of the return journey not made, no 
additional flight appropriate 
•  If the delay occurs in Amsterdam – a refund for the part of the return journey not 
made. 
 
When the flight is part of a 'package holiday', the passenger is only entitled to reimbursement 
of flight element of that package in the framework of this Regulation. 
 
Question 18: Where, in the case of an interline ticket, a delay occurred on the last leg, 
who should be responsible for potential reimbursement?  
 
If the passenger chooses not to continue his/her journey because of a delay of at least five 
hours, he/she would then be entitled to a refund, within 7 days, for the part or parts of the 
journey not made from the airline whose flight was delayed. 
 
Similarly, in the case of an interline ticket where a delay in departure occurred on the 
preceding leg, that preceding airline should be responsible for potential reimbursement.   
 
In either case when the flight is part of a 'package holiday', the passenger is only entitled to 
reimbursement of flight element of that package. 
 
Question 19: Do airlines have compensation obligations in the case of long delays? 
 
No. However, if a flight is expected to be delayed by more than two, three or four hours, as 
applicable, the passengers concerned are entitled to receive information on their rights and 
proper assistance (meals, refreshments, communication facilities and, if appropriate, hotel 
accommodation). 
 
However, without prejudice to compensation possibilities on the basis of national civil law, no 
financial compensation is to be paid for delays under the Regulation.  
 
With regard to a possible refund of tickets (which is different from compensation), the 
Regulation provides for this kind of reimbursement where stranded passengers do not wish 
to continue their journey at a delay for more than five hours and are entitled, under the 
Regulation, to cancel their flight on their own initiative and to claim a refund on tickets not 
used. When expecting such a long delay, the airline has to propose this option to the 
passengers concerned. 
 
9

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
VI. COMPENSATION 
 

Article 7: Right to compensation 
 
1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall receive compensation amounting to: 
 
(a) EUR 250 for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less; 
(b) EUR 400 for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 
kilometres; 
(c) EUR 600 for all flights not falling under (a) or (b). 
 
In determining the distance, the basis shall be the last destination at which the denial of boarding or cancellation will delay the 
passenger's arrival after the scheduled time. 
 
2. When passengers are offered re-routing to their final destination on an alternative flight pursuant to Article 8, the arrival time 
of which does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked 
 
(a) by two hours, in respect of all flights of 1500 kilometres or less; or 
(b) by three hours, in respect of all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres and for all other flights between 1500 
and 3500 kilometres; or 
(c) by four hours, in respect of all flights not falling under (a) or (b), 
 
the operating air carrier may reduce the compensation provided for in paragraph 1 by 50 %. 
 
3. The compensation referred to in paragraph 1 shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques 
or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services. 
 
4. The distances given in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be measured by the great circle route method. 
 
Question 20: What technique is used to measure distances by the great circle route 
method?
 21 
 
The following website might be of interest: http://www.airportcitycodes.com/calcform.aspx. 
 
Airport codes should be used, rather than city codes for those cities that have more than one 
airport e.g. for London Gatwick use LGW rather than LON. 
 
 
VII. REIMBURSEMENT OR RE-ROUTING 
 
Article 8: Right to reimbursement or re-routing 
 
1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered the choice between: 
 
(a) - reimbursement within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which 
it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer 
serving any purpose in relation to the passenger's original travel plan, together with, when relevant, a return flight to the first 
point of departure, at the earliest opportunity; 
 
(b) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity; or 
 
(c) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date at the passenger's convenience, 
subject to availability of seats. 
 
2. Paragraph 1(a) shall also apply to passengers whose flights form part of a package, except for the right to reimbursement 
where such right arises under Directive 90/314/EEC. 
 
3. When, in the case where a town, city or region is served by several airports, an operating air carrier offers a passenger a 
flight to an airport alternative to that for which the booking was made, the operating air carrier shall bear the cost of transferring 
the passenger from that alternative airport either to that for which the booking was made, or to another close-by destination 
agreed with the passenger. 
                                                 
21 Article 7(3). 
 
10

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
Question 21: Does the flight, in cases of re-routing, have to be performed by the 
original operating carrier?22 
 
No. This flight does not necessarily need to be operated by the airline the passenger booked 
with. 
 
Question 22: Is re-routing to be made exclusively by air transport? 23 
 
No. Re-routing alternatives can be proposed by other means of transport, such as train, taxi 
or bus, if, the distance to be covered is appropriate for such transport modes.  
 
Question 23: What about the obligation of assistance when the passenger chooses to 
travel at a later date?24 
 
If a passenger chooses to travel at a later date, rather than at the earliest opportunity, the 
airline's obligation to provide further assistance ceases at that point. The obligation of an air 
carrier stops when the reservation is cancelled resulting in the passenger no longer being 
entitled to assistance 
 
Question 24: What happens in practical terms when an operating air carrier offers a 
passenger a flight to an alternative airport to the one for which the booking was 
made?25 
 
In such a case, the operating air carrier has to bear the costs of transferring the passenger 
from the alternative airport to either the one for which the booking was made, or to another 
close-by destination agreed with the passenger. 
 
 
VIII. CARE 
 
Article 9: Right to care 
 
1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered free of charge: 
 
(a) meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time; 
 
(b) hotel accommodation in cases 
 
- where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or 
 
- where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary; 
 
(c) transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel or other). 
 
2. In addition, passengers shall be offered free of charge two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails. 
 
3. In applying this Article, the operating air carrier shall pay particular attention to the needs of persons with reduced mobility 
and any persons accompanying them, as well as to the needs of unaccompanied children. 
                                                 
22 Article 8(1) (b) and (c). 
23 Article 8(1) (b) and (c).  
24 Article 8(1) (b) and (c). 
25 Article 8(3).   
 
11

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
Question 25: What is the responsibility of the operating carrier if no lodging facilities 
exist around the airport? Would the airline be obliged to transport passengers to the 
closest hotels? 26 
 
When Article 9 applies, carriers are obliged to provide the assistance stipulated. However, as 
the case may be, NEB should consider the practicalities faced by airlines - for example the 
distance to the closest available hotels combined with the time the following day of the 
delayed or replacement flight. The replacement flight might be early the next morning and 
available hotels so far away that it would not be practical to transport passengers to and from 
the airport.  
 
Question 26: What is the responsibility of an airline if no catering facilities exist in or 
around the airport?  
 
When Article 9 applies, carriers are obliged to provide the assistance stipulated. If no 
catering facilities exist in or around the airport, the airline would have to organise a minimum 
service. However, NEB should consider the practicalities faced by airlines given the 
circumstances at the particular airport. 
 
In this respect, NEB should take into account the “reasonableness” test for Article 9, which is 
Recital 18 of the Regulation: “Care for passengers awaiting an alternative or a delayed flight 
may be limited or declined if the provision of the care would itself cause further delay”.  
 
 
IX. UPGRADING AND DOWNGRADING  
 
Article 10: Upgrading and downgrading 
 
1. If an operating air carrier places a passenger in a class higher than that for which the ticket was purchased, it may not request 
any supplementary payment. 
 
2. If an operating air carrier places a passenger in a class lower than that for which the ticket was purchased, it shall within 
seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), reimburse 
 
(a) 30 % of the price of the ticket for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less, or 
 
(b) 50 % of the price of the ticket for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres, except flights between the 
European territory of the Member States and the French overseas departments, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 
kilometres, or  
 
(c) 75 % of the price of the ticket for all flights not falling under (a) or (b), including flights between the European territory of the 
Member States and the French overseas departments. 
 
Question 27: Where an air journey contains several legs, which part is to be 
reimbursed in case of downgrading? 27 
 
If an air carrier or tour operator places a passenger in a class lower than that for which the 
ticket was purchased, it shall reimburse the difference in price between the passenger's 
ticket and the cheapest published fare available for the class in which the passenger is 
placed for that part of the journey.28 
                                                 
26 Article 9(1)(b).  
27 Article 10(2). 
28 NEB are of the opinion that reimbursement will be made in relation to the ticket, not just the flight sector, 
which the passenger was travelling on when the downgrade occurred. 
 
12

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
X. PERSONS WITH REDUCED MOBILITY OR SPECIAL NEEDS 
 
Article 11: Persons with reduced mobility or special needs 
 
1. Operating air carriers shall give priority to carrying persons with reduced mobility and any persons or certified service dogs 
accompanying them, as well as unaccompanied children. 
 
2. In cases of denied boarding, cancellation and delays of any length, persons with reduced mobility and any persons 
accompanying them, as well as unaccompanied children, shall have the right to care in accordance with Article 9 as soon as 
possible. 
 
XI. FURTHER COMPENSATION 
 
Article 12: Further compensation 
 
1. This Regulation shall apply without prejudice to a passenger's rights to further compensation. The compensation granted 
under this Regulation may be deducted from such compensation. 
 
2. Without prejudice to relevant principles and rules of national law, including case-law, paragraph 1 shall not apply to 
passengers who have voluntarily surrendered a reservation under Article 4(1). 
 
XII. RIGHT OF REDRESS 
 
Article 13: Right of redress 
 
In cases where an operating air carrier pays compensation or meets the other obligations incumbent on it under this Regulation, 
no provision of this Regulation may be interpreted as restricting its right to seek compensation from any person, including third 
parties, in accordance with the law applicable. In particular, this Regulation shall in no way restrict the operating air carrier's right 
to seek reimbursement from a tour operator or another person with whom the operating air carrier has a contract. Similarly, no 
provision of this Regulation may be interpreted as restricting the right of a tour operator or a third party, other than a passenger, 
with whom an operating air carrier has a contract, to seek reimbursement or compensation from the operating air carrier in 
accordance with applicable relevant laws. 
 
Question 28:
 Who can be held liable for failure to honour the obligations provided for 
in the Regulation?
 
 
Since the passenger is transported by the operating carrier, this carrier is responsible for 
complying with the provisions of the Regulation. This is without prejudice to the right of the 
operating carrier to seek recovery of the expenses made for the provision of information, 
assistance and compensation from the third party responsible for the flight disruptions under 
the applicable provisions of national law on contractual or extra-contractual liability. 
 
 
XIII. OBLIGATION TO INFORM PASSENGERS OF THEIR RIGHTS 
 
Article 14: Obligation to inform passengers of their rights 
 
1. The operating air carrier shall ensure that at check-in a clearly legible notice containing the following text is displayed in a 
manner clearly visible to passengers: "If you are denied boarding or if your flight is cancelled or delayed for at least two hours, 
ask at the check-in counter or boarding gate for the text stating your rights, particularly with regard to compensation and 
assistance". 
 
2. An operating air carrier denying boarding or cancelling a flight shall provide each passenger affected with a written notice 
setting out the rules for compensation and assistance in line with this Regulation. It shall also provide each passenger affected 
by a delay of at least two hours with an equivalent notice. The contact details of the national designated body referred to in 
Article 16 shall also be given to the passenger in written form. 
 
3. In respect of blind and visually impaired persons, the provisions of this Article shall be applied using appropriate alternative 
means. 
 
13

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
Question 29: What is the extent of the information obligation provided for in the 
Regulation?30 
 
Article 14 of the Regulation places a clear twofold obligation on carriers: 
 

1.  To ensure that an information notice is displayed at check in (Article 14.1). Whilst a 
generic information notice can be provided for carriers by either the airport authority 
or a common ground handler, the obligation to ensure that such a notice is displayed 
remains with the carriers; 
 
2.  If disruption occurs that would be covered by the terms of the Regulation, to ensure 
that a passenger is provided with an appropriate notice setting out their rights under 
the Regulation (Article 14.2). 
 
Of course, flight disruptions may happen unexpectedly and each particular situation shall be 
assessed on a case-by-case basis. 
 
 
XIV. EXCLUSION OF WAIVER 
 
Article 15: Exclusion of waiver 
 
1. Obligations vis-à-vis passengers pursuant to this Regulation may not be limited or waived, notably by a derogation or 
restrictive clause in the contract of carriage. 
 
2. If, nevertheless, such a derogation or restrictive clause is applied in respect of a passenger, or if the passenger is not 
correctly informed of his rights and for that reason has accepted compensation which is inferior to that provided for in this 
Regulation, the passenger shall still be entitled to take the necessary proceedings before the competent courts or bodies in 
order to obtain additional compensation. 
 
Question 30: Can obligations vis-à-vis passengers pursuant to the Regulation be 
limited or waived, notably by a derogation or restrictive clause in the contract of 
carriage?31 
 
No. Irrespective of what a carrier's Conditions of Carriage may say in relation to the provision 
of assistance or compensation, Article 15 of the Regulation expressly states that a carrier 
cannot limit or waive their passenger obligations by the use of such conditions. Such 
conditions cannot therefore take precedence over the legal requirements of the Regulation. 
 
 
XV. INFRINGEMENTS 
 
Article 16: Infringements 
 
1. Each Member State shall designate a body responsible for the enforcement of this Regulation as regards flights from airports 
situated on its territory and flights from a third country to such airports. Where appropriate, this body shall take the measures 
necessary to ensure that the rights of passengers are respected. The Member States shall inform the Commission of the body 
that has been designated in accordance with this paragraph. 
 
2. Without prejudice to Article 12, each passenger may complain to any body designated under paragraph 1, or to any other 
competent body designated by a Member State, about an alleged infringement of this Regulation at any airport situated on the 
territory of a Member State or concerning any flight from a third country to an airport situated on that territory. 
 
3. The sanctions laid down by Member States for infringements of this Regulation shall be effective, proportionate and 
dissuasive. 
                                                 
30 Articles 14(1) and 14(2). 
31 Article 15.1.  
 
14

This document does not constitute any kind of formal commitment 
on the part of the European Commission. 
 
Question 31: What is the geographical scope of NEB’ enforcement obligations?32 
 
Article 16.1 refers to the National Enforcement Body being responsible for enforcement and 
being empowered to take appropriate action (enforcement through a sanction regime) to 
ensure that passengers’ rights are upheld. 
 
The designated body deals with enforcement of passenger rights for all flights leaving an 
airport on their territory or coming in from third countries on EU carriers. It does not 
distinguish between different nationalities, place of residence or contracting. 
 
Question 32: Are there exceptions to the above rule?  
 
The rule is that the designated body deals with enforcement of passenger rights for all flights 
leaving an airport on their territory or coming in from third countries on EU carriers. It does 
not distinguish between different nationalities, place of residence or contracting. 
 
For passengers’ convenience, Article 16, paragraph 2, provides for a possibility for 
complainants to submit claims against airlines to another National Enforcement Body than 
the one where the incident took place (e.g. for language purposes, flights which took 
off/landed at/in a Third Country). But the authority which is competent for this complaint 
under the criteria of Article 16, paragraph 1 will still have to deal with investigation measures. 
There should therefore be good coordination between National Enforcement Bodies to 
prevent passengers from ‘shopping around’ for rights, and pass on files for action when 
needed. NEB should be aware that Regulation [EC]261/2004 is covered by the Consumer 
Cooperation Regulation which has entered into force in December 200633. 
 
 
____________ END ____________ 
                                                 
32 Article 16.1. 
33 Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 October 2004 on 
cooperation between national authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws (the 
Regulation on consumer protection cooperation) -  Official Journal L 364 , 09/12/2004 P. 0001 – 0011. 
 
15

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