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Dealing with flight delays can be frustrating, especially when you’re unsure about your rights to compensation.

If you’ve experienced a delayed American Airlines flight, you might wonder what you’re entitled to and how to claim it.

The good news is that, in certain situations, you may be eligible for compensation under EU regulations.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the eligibility criteria for delayed flight compensation with American Airlines, guiding you through determining whether you qualify and how to claim what you’re entitled to.

We’ll cover the key factors that affect your eligibility, the compensation amounts you can expect, and the steps you need to take to claim your compensation successfully.

Overview of Flight Delays

Regarding flight delays and cancellations, it’s crucial to understand your rights as a passenger.

While the US doesn’t have federal laws requiring airlines to compensate passengers for delays, the European Union (EU) has a comprehensive regulation called EC261.

This law protects passengers on flights departing from an EU airport, regardless of the airline’s country of origin. 

Under EC261, American Airlines passengers may be entitled to compensation for delayed or canceled flights.

Travelers must understand their rights under this regulation, which can help them claim the compensation they deserve.

Knowing the eligibility criteria, compensation amounts, and the claim process can make a significant difference in getting the reimbursement you’re entitled to.

Applicability of EC261 to American Airlines

EC261 is a European Union regulation that aims to ensure compensation for passengers who face significant delays, cancellations, or denied boarding.

This law protects passengers’ rights and holds airlines accountable for inconveniences caused by flight disruptions.

Although American Airlines is not a European carrier, EC261 still applies to all its flights departing from airports within the European Union.

This means that passengers on these flights are entitled to the same rights and compensation as those operated by EU-based airlines.

Specific Flight Coverage under EC261

Regarding specific flight coverage, EC261 applies to all flights departing from an EU airport, regardless of the destination or the airline’s country of origin.

However, it’s important to note that flights arriving at EU airports from outside the EU are not covered by EC261 if operated by a non-EU carrier like American Airlines.

To illustrate this, let’s consider two example scenarios:

1. An American Airlines flight from Paris to New York would be covered under EC261 since it departs from an EU airport.

2. EC261 would not cover an American Airlines flight from New York to Paris because it originates outside the EU and is operated by a non-EU airline.

Practical Implications for Passengers

Passengers who believe their American Airlines flight is eligible for compensation under EC261 should thoroughly document the delay or cancellation.

This includes keeping records of flight numbers, departure and arrival times, and any communication with the airline.

Under EC261, passengers may be entitled to assistance and compensation, such as meals, refreshments, and financial compensation, depending on the length of the delay and the flight distance.

Knowing your rights and the applicable regulations can help you navigate the claiming process more effectively.

Eligibility Criteria for Compensation

Eligibility Criteria for Compensation

Understanding the eligibility criteria for compensation is crucial when you’ve experienced a flight delay with American Airlines.

Not all delays qualify for compensation under EC261, as specific requirements must be met, particularly concerning the duration and nature of the delay.

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To be eligible for compensation under EC261, your flight must have been delayed by more than three hours.

This is measured when the aircraft doors open at the final destination compared to the scheduled arrival time. It’s important to note that departure and arrival delays are considered when determining eligibility.

Extraordinary circumstances are situations beyond the airline’s control that cause flight disruptions.

These events are often unpredictable and unavoidable, and as a result, airlines are typically not obligated to compensate passengers affected by delays or cancellations caused by extraordinary circumstances.

Under EC261, extraordinary circumstances are addressed in specific articles and clauses that outline the legal framework for determining when an airline is exempt from paying compensation. Examples of exceptional circumstances include:

  1. Weather Conditions: Severe weather events such as hurricanes, blizzards, or volcanic ash clouds make it unsafe for flights to operate as scheduled.
  2. Strikes: External strikes, such as those by air traffic control staff, can be considered extraordinary. However, strikes by airline staff may not be deemed extraordinary if they are within the airline’s control.
  3. Security Risks: Incidents like terrorism threats or emergency landings due to onboard security concerns fall under extraordinary circumstances.
  4. Public Health Emergencies: Pandemics and other public health crises resulting from travel restrictions or flight disruptions are considered extraordinary.

In these situations, while passengers may not be entitled to financial compensation, they may still receive assistance, such as meals and accommodations, depending on the length of the delay.

Scenarios Where American Airlines is Liable On the other hand if the delay was caused by factors within American Airlines’ control, such as mechanical issues or crew delays, the airline is liable for compensation. In these cases, passengers are entitled to claim compensation under EC261.

When submitting a claim, passengers may be required to provide proof or documentation to support their case.

This can include boarding passes, flight confirmations, and any correspondence with the airline regarding the delay.

How to Claim Compensation If you believe you’re eligible for compensation due to an American Airlines flight delay, the first step is to contact the airline’s customer service.

Be prepared to provide details about your flight, including the flight number, date, and length of the delay.

You can also use online compensation calculators or third-party services like AirHelp to determine your eligibility and facilitate the claims process.

These tools can help you understand your rights and guide you through the necessary steps to submit a claim.

Remember to keep all relevant documents and correspondence related to your flight and the delay, as these may be necessary when pursuing your compensation claim.

Types of Compensation Available

When your American Airlines flight is delayed or canceled, it’s essential to understand the types of compensation you may be entitled to under EU regulation EC261.

This regulation provides a comprehensive framework for passenger rights, ensuring that travelers are adequately compensated for the inconvenience caused by flight disruptions.

1. Financial Compensation

One of the primary forms of compensation under EC261 is financial compensation. The amount of compensation you can claim depends on the flight distance.

  • For flights under 1,500 km, you can claim up to €250.
  • For intra-EU flights over 1,500 km and non-intra-EU flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km, you can claim up to €400.
  • For non-intra-EU flights over 3,500 km, you can claim up to €600.
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To be eligible for financial compensation, your flight must have been delayed by three or more hours and not caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond the airline’s control. The flight’s departure and arrival locations also play a role in determining the compensation amount.

2. Additional Rights

In addition to financial compensation, EC261 grants passengers other rights when faced with flight delays or cancellations.

These include the right to care, which entitles you to meals, refreshments, and accommodation if your delay exceeds two hours.

Furthermore, you can choose between re-routing or a full refund if your flight is delayed or canceled. American Airlines must offer you the following choices:

  • Immediate re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity.
  • Re-routing at a later date at your convenience.
  • If the delay extends beyond five hours and you decide not to travel, you will receive a full refund of the ticket price.

Practical Tips for Claiming Compensation

It is crucial to keep all your travel documents, such as boarding passes and receipts for any additional expenses incurred due to the delay or cancellation, to ensure a smooth compensation claim process.

When filing a claim with American Airlines, you can contact their customer service through various channels, such as email, phone, or social media.

Please provide all relevant information, including your flight details, the reason for the delay or cancellation, and any supporting documents.

Remember, if you’re unsure about your eligibility or need assistance with your claim, you can always seek help from third-party services specializing in air passenger rights.

Recent Legal Changes

Air passenger rights regulations, including EC261, have undergone various updates and amendments since their introduction.

Passengers must stay informed about the most recent changes that may affect their ability to claim compensation for delayed or canceled flights.

For example, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) has impacted the application of EC261 for flights to and from the UK. The COVID-19 pandemic has also led to temporary adjustments in how airlines handle cancellations and refunds.

To understand the implications of these legal changes, passengers should consult official resources provided by regulatory bodies.

These may include updated versions of the regulations, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and guidance documents that clarify passenger rights under the revised laws.

By staying informed about extraordinary circumstances and recent legal changes, passengers can better understand their rights and navigate the compensation claim process when faced with flight disruptions on American Airlines or other carriers.


Understanding your rights and the eligibility criteria for delayed flight compensation with American Airlines under EC261 is crucial.

Knowing the applicable regulations, compensation amounts, and claiming process can help you confidently navigate the situation if you face a significant flight delay.

Remember, while extraordinary circumstances may exempt the airline from paying compensation, in most cases, you are entitled to financial compensation and additional assistance.

Stay informed about your rights, keep all necessary documentation, and don’t hesitate to seek help if needed.

Armed with this knowledge, you can turn a frustrating flight delay experience into an opportunity to claim what you deserve.

Take action and ensure that your rights as an air passenger are upheld, and remember, a well-informed traveler is an empowered traveler.


Deacon Crowe


Deacon Crowe is ThetalkHome's go-to for airline services and policies, helping travelers fly smarter. A graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University with a focus on Aviation Business Administration, Deacon decodes the fine print of flying, from booking hacks to loyalty programs. His philosophy? "Knowing the rules lets you fly higher." Lean on Deacon's expertise for a smoother journey, whether it's snagging the best deals or navigating airport complexities.

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