New compensation rules for delayed or cancelled transfer flights outside of the EU

Legislation for compensation rules in EU Regulation 261/2004 has been clarified for passengers having transfer flights outside of the EU. Previously compensation would only be awarded to passengers dealing with missed connections in the EU, but the European Court of Justice has ruled that passengers of problem flights outside of the EU, part of journey that commenced in the EU, are entitled to compensation for arrival delays of three hours or more.

shadow of plane on land

Transfer flights outside EU now covered by EU legislation

Regulation 261/2004 was established to protect passenger rights for passengers flying from the EU or to the EU with a European airline. Missed connection claims were already covered by the Regulation as the problem flight causing passengers to miss their connection, departed from the EU. However, what happens if you booked a trip with a stopover outside of Europe, and that flight is delayed or cancelled due to a technical defect or shortage of staff for example? Reasons for which under Regulation 261/2004 you would be entitled to compensation. By other means, if your transfer flight was planned ín the EU, you would be entitled to compensation even though the journey is practically the same.

Example: You travel from Amsterdam to Singapore, Malaysia with a stopover in Dubai. Your flight from Dubai to Singapore is cancelled because of a technical defect. You were not entitled to compensation before, as your flight was outside of the EU and not covered by Regulation 261/2004. Was your stopover in London instead of Dubai? Then you would be entitled to compensation.

However, the European Court of Justice found it unfair, as the second flight is part of an entire journey starting in the EU. Therefor the ECOJ ruled that flights in one booking should be considered one journey and therefor the Regulation applies for both flights.

New rules mean more passengers can claim compensation

What does this new judgement mean for you as a passenger? If your flights are in one booking, it does not matter where your transfer flight is, your passenger rights are protected as long as you depart from an airport in the EU. The existing rules for compensation still apply, meaning that your arrival delay must be three hours or more and the delay is not to be delayed due to an extraordinary circumstance. If your flight is from outside the EU to a destination in the EU, you are only entitled to compensation if your flight is operated by a European airline. 

Example: Your flight from Singapore to Sydney is delayed by 8 hours because of a tropical storm. The flight is part of your journey from London. You are not entitled to compensation because the flight is delayed due to an extraordinary circumstance. If this was not the case, you would now be entitled to €600 in compensation by the new ruling.

How to ensure your passenger rights to the max when flying outside the EU

There are a few precautions you can take to ensure your rights when you travel outside the EU.

  1. Always book your flights together. No separate bookings that is. The airlines that conduct the connecting flights work together and ensure that you make your connecting flight in time.
  2. Choose a journey that allows you some wiggle room in the transfer time. That way a little delay won’t make you miss your connecting flight.
  3. Flying home from a destination outside the EU? When possible, fly with a European carrier. They are still bound by European legislation.
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Martin Rice

Hi i was flying from dublin till toronto when we arrived at airport they flew us till st johns in canada insted till get another flight till toronto .are we entitled compensation for having extra stopover


Hi Jasmijn,

We were on a return trip from Bolivia to Spain (connection) with destination London. Bolivia-Spain operated by BOA OB0776 and Spain-London by Iberia IB3170, with a delay of over 7 hours spend in the plane waiting!! Would we be entitled to any compensation?! Mny thanks Ella


I was flying back from Bangkok to Manchester via Dubai for connection but had to do an emergency landing due to medical emergency before we got to Dubai. We missed our flight from Dubai to Manchester and had to take our flight back the next morning. I know medical emergencies delays are not claimable but does it still apple for missing the connection flight and having to wait almost 12 hours for another flight counts? We also had a young child with us and it caused us so much inconvience 🙁 Also the carrier isn’t EU. Is it just worth… Read more »

What a terrible situation, Jess! Unfortunately you are right and can’t file a claim for your flight, despite the long delay due to the missed connection. But you can always send a message to the airline. Maybe they can do something for you out of care. If you have made extra costs because of the delay, the airline should compensate the costs like food, drinks or overnight stay. Hope you have better experiences in the future! ~Anouk

Hazik Afzal

Okay, that’s interesting.

In the case of a flight from Amsterdam -> Dubai -> Singapore. Let’s say Amsterdam to Dubai went smoothly, but the Dubai to Singapore flight arrives 4hrs late. Is the compensation amount calculated based on the distance from Amsterdam to Singapore or Dubai to Singapore?

I guess basically my question is, if there is a delay on just the second leg of a flight, do you get compensation based on the flight distance of the entire journey or just the effected portion?

Thank you for your message Hazik! The compensation is based on the flight distance of the entire journey, being Amsterdam to Singapore. The Court of Justice has ruled that connecting flights in a single booking must be regarded as one journey. If you have any further questions, please feel free to send us a message! ~Anouk


Hello Jasmijn! Me and my girlfriend had a reservation made with American Airlines from Buenos Aires to Dublin via JFK and LHR going out and via ORD and DFW coming back. Everything went smoothly except for the last leg, DFW to EZE, which departed 17 hours later (we were offered hotel but no transport to/from it). Are we entitled to compensation as the return journey originated in Dublin under the same reservation? Note: We had a 19-hour layover in DFW in which we claimed our bags and checked them in again the next day.

John Gerrard

Hi, We travelled to Male via connection in Dubai November 2016 on Emirates Flight. We were delayed and they admitted liability but said we were only able to claim for the 3 hrs 20min late to Dubai and not the missed connection to Male leaving us 7 hours 20mins late. We requested €600ea each but were told we could only have €300ea. I argued the point that it was all booked together on a through ticket but they classed it as 2 separate flights. Quote that they regulations were ” Interpretive Guidelines”. Sanghvi – v -Cathay Pacific case. We missed… Read more »


Hello! I’m flying from Tokyo to Berlin via Brussels. My flight from Tokyo has been delayed (approx. 2 hours) and, as a result I will miss my connecting flight from Brussels. The airline for the Tokyo to Brussels leg is ANA, but Brussels airlines for the Brussels to Berlin leg (both Star alliance group). My original connection for the Brussels to Berlin leg is the last direct flight of the day so they have proposed an alternative route – Brussels -> Frankfurt; Frankfurt -> Berlin. This means I will arrive more than 4 hours after the scheduled time. Do you… Read more »

Hi Alex, I apologize for the late reaction. You had a pretty long flight thanks to the alternative route. Unfortunately, you have to fly with an European airline if you’re departing from a non-European country to be entitled to compensation. Maybe you can send a message to ANA and they can do something for you out of coulance? If you have any further questions, please feel free to send a message! ~Anouk


Yesterday (26th of January 2020) my family arrived over 3 hours late back to Prague from Malé.
Original booking:
– missed connection in ZRH -> rerouted: ZRH-FRA-PRG (arrived 3 hours late)
the boarding started very late (10 minutes to departure – which is not ok for this type of plane and flight) all pax were on board about 20 mins after departure time, and then we waited 1 hour because of the plane wasnt loaded yet and the captain was waiting for some paperwork? .. is that EU261 approved? Also then the airport was kinda busy so that adds that..
Thank you so much!

Hi Adam, I apologize for the late reaction! I’m so sorry to hear they had such a long delay. Which airline were they flying with? If they were flying with an European airline from Malé to Prague, then the flight falls under the European Regulation. If this is not the case, then unfortunately they are not entitled to compensation for the loss of time. If you have any further questions, please let me know! ~Anouk

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