Regulation 261/2004

The passengers' rights serve to strengthen the rights of air passengers for flights that are taken up in the EU, or that are carried out by EU airlines and have an EU airport as a destination.

  • 2.1 Control Areas
  • 2.2 Damage to Baggage
  • 2.3 body damage during the flight
  • 3.1 Germany

Air Passenger Rights Regulation

The current legislation ( Regulation 261/2004/EG ) was adopted on 11 February 2004 of the European Parliament and the Council and entered into force on 17 February 2005. The validity and primary law compliance of air passenger rights Regulation were confirmed in a judgment in proceedings for a preliminary ruling in Rs C-344/04 of the European Court of Justice (ECJ ) of 10 January 2006; Plaintiff in a British main proceedings were the international aviation association IATA and the Association of European low cost airlines ELFAA.

Cases for passenger rights

  • Denied boarding in particular overbooking
  • Cancellation of flights
  • ( Great) delays

Performance Undertaker

Provider of

  • Scheduled flights
  • Charter flights
  • Cheap flights

The Air Passenger Rights Regulation does not distinguish between these categories because of difficult classification.

Claims arising from the Passenger Rights Regulation are generally only be sent to the exporting or potentially exporting airline, regardless of what company with the contract of carriage was actually closed. Especially with code-sharing flights have this in mind! For flights within the scope of package tours (Directive 90/314/EEC ), the claims are not to be put to the tour operator, but also to the operating air carrier.

Scope of the claims

Case of denied boarding or cancellation, the claims are grouped according to the route of flight. Considering, however, not the actual route, but the distance is determined by the great circle method (see links).

Denied boarding

Case of denied boarding - for example due to overbooking - the passenger has right to:

  • Refund of the ticket price
  • Earliest possible free of departure,
  • Earliest possible transport to the destination
  • Transport to the destination on the desired date (if seats are available )

In addition, the airline has a lump sum compensation as compensation (Article 7 of Regulation (EC ) No 261 /2004) to pay:

  • € 250 for a shorter flight distance equal to 1500 km
  • € 400 for a further distance within the EU or less equal to 3500 km
  • € 600 for routes longer than 3500 km

If an alternative flight, which (according to the above-mentioned distance ) arrives no later than 2/3/4 hours from the planned flight to the target, the compensation available to only 50%.

People with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them, as well as unaccompanied children have a priority right to vacant places.


The passenger has the right either to:

  • Refund of the ticket price
  • Free of departure,
  • Re-routing to your final destination

In addition, the airline has to pay compensation ( compensation ):

  • € 250 for a flight distance of up to 1500 km and a delay of more than 2 hours
  • € 400 for one flight up to 3500 km and a delay of more than 3 hours
  • € 600 for a flight distance greater than 3500 km and a delay of more than 4 hours

These compensation payments available to the passenger to be

  • If the airline has not notified at least 14 days before the scheduled departure of the passenger
  • Or the passenger is informed of the cancellation in a period between two weeks and seven days before the scheduled departure time and receives an offer to re-routing, which allows him no more than two hours before the scheduled time of departure and their final destination less than four hours to achieve after the scheduled arrival time
  • Or he is informed of the cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled departure time and receives an offer to re-routing, which enables it to not more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and the final destination not later than two hours after the scheduled arrival time to reach.

A ruling by the Supreme Court passengers also have no claim to compensation if the cancellation was caused by a strike. see Section Exceptional circumstances.


For care services is both a timely check-in critical as well as the applicability in principle of air passenger rights Regulation on the flight. As compensation, meals, beverages, telecommunications and, if necessary, hotel accommodation inclusive of transfers shall be submitted. However, only for a delay of

  • 2 hours and more for a flight distance less than or equal 1500 km
  • 3 hours, and more for another route within the EU or less than or equal 3500 km
  • 4 hours and more on routes outside the EU larger 3500 km.

For a delay of more than 5 hours, the passengers can cancel the trip and then be entitled to the (partial) refund of the ticket price within 7 days and if appropriate, a free flight back to your starting point.

Since the decision of the ECJ of 19 November 2009 in terms of Sturgeon / Condor or Böck and Lepuschitz / Air France are the passenger in a delay of more than three hours ( regardless of distance ) and compensation (see above) graduated according to distance to.

In addition, damages may be asserted, regardless of departure or destination, unless a culpable damage occurred proven. For this purpose, the company must be responsible for the delay. In addition to the contracting company may also proceed against the operating carrier (code sharing). The amount is limited to up to 4150 Special Drawing Right (SDR ). If claims are not satisfied the courts.

Unclear rules

The European Court has held that in case of delay from 3 hours delayed arrival at the final destination compensation ( according to the amount of the payments that are recognized also in case of cancellations ) are observed ( ECJ 19/11/2009 verb Rs C-402/07 and C -432 / 07). This applies even if the delay has not already been submitted for departures, but only changes such that the traveler missed a connecting flight and thus late arriving at the final destination (ECJ 26.02.2013, C-11/11 ). However, this connecting flight must be after the Supreme Court also within the EU be commenced, as the applicability of the regulation for each flight must be assessed separately, even if it constitutes a single flight with only one flight number the same airline and was booked together (BGH, judgment v. 13.11.2012 - X ZR 12/12, and X ZR 14/12 ).

Airline passengers can seek compensation if the delay is more than three hours and the airline can prove exceptional circumstances as justification. Responsible is already one that is so poorly organized that it can obtain a replacement aircraft. This has the district court Kingswells, which is for launching or landing at Berlin- Schoenefeld Airport " Low Cost " responsible, in two recent, final judgments ( 14.01.2011, 9 C 552 /10; 15/02/2011, 9 C 560 /10) decided. Also responsible for the Cologne-Bonn Airport Cologne District Court accepts in accordance with the case law of the ECJ and the Supreme Court on payment of compensation in case of large flight delay.

Especially convenient for travelers is that they do not have to prove actual harm, as it is a lump-sum compensation for the inconvenience.

Airlines often one that the delay was due to so-called " exceptional circumstances " (Art. 5 § 3 of Regulation (EC ) No 261 /2004), for example, an unforeseen damage to the aircraft by bird strikes - as in the proceedings before the AG King wusterhausen - occurred, and therefore lacked the requisite culpability. In 2009 the Berlin Court of Appeal this decision that this argument will not apply when due to lack of provision no spare machine can be organized ( June 03, 2009, 8 ​​U 15 /09). However, in 2013, the Bundesgerichtshof has ruled in the case that a bird strike may constitute exceptional circumstances within the meaning of the Air Passenger Rights Regulation and the airlines are not required in the case for holding a spare machine ( September 24, 2013 - X ZR 160/12 ). Whereas, according to federal court ( November 12, 2009 Xa ZR 76/ 07, ) seen in isolation, represent technical defects, as they occasionally occur during the operation of an aircraft, no exceptional circumstances which dismissed the airline from liability. This is true even if all maintenance has been performed on time and properly.

In addition, meals and drinks depending on the waiting time are to provide and Telecommunications ( two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or or e -mails) and, if necessary, hotel accommodation inclusive of transfers.

For all support measures in particular to the needs of people with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them, as well as to the needs of children to ensure unaccompanied.

Settlement of claims

For the calculation of the distance of the last destination is assumed, which is reached by the late denied boarding or cancellation. However, only routes and transfer points are calculated that are posted with a single airline in a single continuous plane ticket. If several different independently booked airlines involved in a total flying, any route of a society considered in isolation.

Become an alternate airports available, the airline has to bear the cost of the transfer to the original destination airport or agreed with the customer destination.

An upgrading of the passenger in transport category must be charged. A downgrade has according to the above-mentioned distance staggering a refund in the amount of 30%, 50 % and 75 % result.

Refunds may be in cash, by bank transfer, by check or can - only with the written consent of the passenger - in the form of travel vouchers within seven days be made ( Article 8, paragraph 1, letter a of Regulation (EC ) No 261/2004 ).

Exceptional circumstances

As required by the Montreal Convention, obligations on operating air carriers should be limited or excluded in cases where an incident is caused by extraordinary circumstances which then could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

The Court of Justice of the European Union ( ECJ) in the Rs Wallentin-Hermann/Alitalia the circumstances can only be described as "exceptional" if they relate to an event that is not part of the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned and because of its nature or cause of it beyond its actual control. This has now confirmed the decisions of the verb Rs Sturgeon / Condor or Böck and Lepuschitz / Air France the ECJ.

Such circumstances may occur, in particular in cases of political instability, with the operation of the flight incompatible weather conditions, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and the operation of an operating air carrier debilitating strikes.

German courts have now determined that drew an unexpected defects but not within the exception in the Order because each defect sometime can occur and therefore is considered to be predictable. According to the Bundesgerichtshof, however, bird strike as an extraordinary event iS of Regulation ( EC) may be 261/2004 rate. Deterring birds incumbent example priority for the airport operator and not the airline. However, will be examined in each individual case whether the airline has done everything it can reasonably be expected to avert delays or cancellations based on bird strike. Thus, the judgment of the KG Berlin is likely to be obsolete in 2009.

The ECJ ruled on 31 January 2013 that an air carrier passengers whose flight has been canceled due to exceptional circumstances such as the closure of airspace after the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, must serve. The Union law requires no time or financial limit this duty to assist passengers (accommodation, meals, refreshments ), the ECJ.

Enforcing claims

The assertion of claims based on the principles of a civil action or process according to the applicable national law.

In the meantime, have established themselves on the market, some companies who are the injured passengers to help by way of a kind of litigation funding. Companies like EUclaim, fair Plane, Flight Right, and consumer debt collection offer passengers on their support for the enforcement of air passenger rights. The service providers are primarily for passengers in question, who have tried unsuccessfully by the airline a compensatory payment under the Air Passenger Rights Regulation because of denied boarding or cancellation of their flight to get. The services work together with lawyers who sue the claim of the passenger if necessary, in court. The passenger does not carry a cost risk if the efforts of the service provider are unsuccessful. Pays the airline, the passenger must submit a fee to the service of his payment of compensation 15 to 30 percent. The services take on cases that are eligible under the EU Regulation 261 /2004. This is crucial from where the plane takes off and whether it is a European airline. On the websites of the providers receive free passengers a rough initial estimate of the legal situation. The services help only when customers make the compensation packages according to the European air passenger rights regulation on the ground. Disputes about to lost luggage or cost of hotel stays they do not accept.

Otherwise passengers will only enforce their claims in the ordinary means of civil proceedings with all the appropriate process and cost risks themselves. Before a court's exercise of the rights of the injured passenger should ask the airline in writing with a deadline for payment, as he has otherwise in the case of an acknowledgment to bear the costs. For the extrajudicial recovery, it is advisable to use a sample letter.



In Germany, the Federal Aviation Authority (LBA ) is the competent authority for the enforcement of the Regulation 261/2004/EG. About the Civil Service of the Federal Aviation Authority and complaint forms and further information is available. The LBA but only cares about trade legal supervision. A settlement of civil claims between passenger and airline carried by the LBA not ( but see later in this chapter arbitration in aviation ).


In Austria, this is up to the service center for air passenger rights established at the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology ( BMVIT).

Dispute resolution in air traffic


On March 21, 2013, the German Bundestag passed the law on arbitration in the aviation sector, with which in Germany introduced a conciliation procedure for disputes between passengers and airlines ( by alteration or amendment of § § 57 ff of the German Air Traffic Act ( LuftVG ) ).

The airlines should be required to set up an arbitration body or to join such a (§ 57 LuftVG nF ). By law, it is up to the airlines to choose a privately organized institution as an arbitration board. Otherwise, they are subject to an administrative settlement with the Federal Office of Justice ( BfJ ) (§ 57a LuftVG nF ).

The procedure is for the passengers initially free (only for abusive use can then according to § 57 para 4 sentence 2 LuftVG nF, and § 57a paragraph 3 sentence 2 LuftVG nF be requested reimbursement also by the passenger ). 2 years after the start of the arbitration, a revision of the earlier procedure by the Ministry carried out and, where appropriate, then remain subject to the introduction of a small fee.

In § 57b LufVG N.F. it is determined that only claims thereof by consumers (in the sense of § 13 BGB ) and in a demand amounting to max. 5,000 euros are affected. Thus, for example, Incidents from business arbitration not acceptable under this system. In § 57b LuftVG N.F. are also issued additional requirements when an arbitration is permitted and when not level. A Procedure for specific proceedings before the arbitration boards should still develop the Federal Ministry of Justice (BMJ ).

The new rules are binding as of 1 November 2013.

There was criticism during the legislative process, among other things, that there will be no single point for all airlines and there is every airline free to choose its own arbitration board.

Montreal Convention

Control areas

  • Loss, damage or delay of baggage
  • Death or injury of the passenger during the flight
  • (Loss, damage or delay to cargo )

Damage to Baggage

Damages may be asserted only against exporting airlines. In addition to the contracting company may also proceed against the operating carrier (code sharing). The amount is up to 1,131 SDRs limited ( changed from 1,000 to 1,131 SDRs by adjusting according to Article 25 MT in 2009 ). If claims are not satisfied the courts.

Damage to the checked baggage must within seven days and for delayed baggage within 21 days ( Note here: deadline! ) After arrival be made in writing.

Body damage during the flight

A strict liability exists (Note: Raising the liability cap from 100,000 to 113,100 SDRs in 2009 under Article 24 MT ) Up to a maximum of 113,100 Special Drawing Rights per passenger. There is an unlimited liability of the Carrier for presumed fault for further damages. The Carrier may of unlimited liability only escape if he can prove that his conduct did not contribute to the occurrence of damage (Article 17, paragraph 1 and Article 21 MT ).

Damages may be asserted only against contractual airlines. In addition to the contracting company may also proceed against the operating carrier (code sharing). There is a right to immediate economic needs. If claims are not satisfied the courts.

National law


According to national German law passenger rights in air transport law ( LuftVG ) are regulated.

However, passenger rights under international agreements ( for example, after the Montreal Convention) or EU law are paramount.