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How to calculate flight distance for the purpose of obtaining compensation under EU261

Compensation for for flight disruptions is assessed according to the distance to final planned destination, and the length of the delay.

How do I calculate my flight distance?

T.S Eliot said: ‘The journey, not the destination matters.’ - that may ring true for life but when it comes to claiming your compensation under European Regulation 261/2004 (“EU261”) it is in fact the destination that matters, not the journey.

When calculating how much compensation you are owed arising out of denied boarding, cancelled or delayed flight, it is the final destination of your ticket which is the relevant place to calculate total distance (Article 2(h) and judgment of 26 February 2013, Folkerts, C-11/11, EU:C:2013:106). This holds true irrespective of whether the disruption occurred on an earlier connecting flight.

You can calculate your flight distance here.

The amount of compensation you may be owed pursuant to EU261 is determined by the distance of your flight, as measured by its final destination:

  • 250 € for flights less than 1,500km
  • 400 € for flights between 1,500km and 3,500 km
  • 600 € for flights greater than 3,500km.

Bear in mind your compensation might be discounted depending on the total delay once you reach your final destination.

How is this applied in a real situation?

Let’s imagine you have a ticket from Paris to New York, with a connecting flight in Dublin. You have a 2 hour stopover in Dublin and your planned arrival at New York is 7pm. Your first flight from Paris to Dublin was cancelled. In this instance, your final planned destination is New York - even though you never reached the United States.

As a result, the distance is 5843 km - or 3630 miles. You would be entitled to compensation of 600 euros (the total flight distance is over 3,500km).

Alternatively, let’s imagine instead your flight from Paris to Dublin was delayed and you arrive in New York at 10:15pm. Your final destination is still New York but in this scenario you actually arrive at your destination - 3 hours and 15 minutes late. Here, the air carrier’s liability to compensate you reduces by 50% as you arrived to your final destination within 3-4 hours of scheduled time.

In both cases, you are entitled to claim compensation if your flight delay is greater than 3 hours. However, in case of extraordinary circumstances, the airline can be exempted from its liability to pay you compensation.

So long as your claim falls under EU261 (check this here), your entitlement to compensation remains irrespective of whether the delay occurred during a stopover in a non-European country air carrier (Gahan v Emirates).

Part of my journey is outside the EU - am I protected by EU261?


The landmark case of Gahan v Emirates [2017] EWCA Civ 1530 confirmed that:

  • it is the final destination on the ticket that matters when determining compensation owed in case of a flight disruption, and
  • it does not matter if the disruption occurs on a non-EU segment of the flight.

Where your flight is disrupted, always look to the final planned destination of your ticket to calculate your flight distance. Need help? Get in touch now and we will work it out for you!

29 April 2019

by Frédéric PELOUZE, Weclaim Founder & Director

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