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Delayed Europe Flight? Know Your Rights

Today, the European Union (EU) Court of Justice upheld a ruling that promises reimbursement for passengers when flights are canceled or severely delayed. Several airlines, including Lufthansa and British Airways, had previously challenged the rule in European courts. But thanks to the EU Court of Justice's reinforcement of its original law, passengers will continue to receive compensation if their European travel plans are upended.

According to the upheld ruling, flyers departing or arriving in European Union countries are entitled to between 250 euros and 600 euros when flights are delayed for three hours or longer, or canceled. This law was established about three years ago, reports Reuters. Note, though, that airlines aren't required to shell out the money if flight delays are caused by extraordinary circumstances or those beyond their control, such as weather-caused delays. (Of course, this includes disruptions such as Icelandic volcanoes.)

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Your amount of compensation depends on the length of your flight. For example, for delays of flights of 1,500 km or less within the European Union, passengers receive 250 euros; for longer flights within the EU, passengers get 400 euros. For a complete list of compensation amounts, visit europa.eu.

As the holidays approach, it's important to be familiar with passenger rights in your arrival and departure destinations before heading to the airport during the busiest travel season of the year. Laws protecting passengers in the U.S. are different from those in Europe.

For more information on your rights as a flyer, read your airline's contract of carriage. And even if, for whatever reason, you aren't legally eligible to receive compensation for a flight delay or cancellation, you should still make a call to your airline. Carriers will sometimes provide lodging, transportation, or meal vouchers to stranded flyers. You often just have to ask.

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