Information about your passenger rights

In case of a long delay, a cancellation or denied boarding, the operating airline might be obliged to offer you compensation, assistance, care and information about your passenger rights. A long delay is when you arrive 3 hours or later at your final destination.

The airline is not obliged to offer compensation when you are informed about the cancellation 14 days or more before the flight or when the delay or cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances, which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

Examples of extraordinary circumstances are:

  • Adverse weather
  • Strikes
  • Political instability
  • Damage to the aircraft due to a bird strike, lightning strike, hail or objects on the runway
  • Security risks
  • Medical emergencies
  • Decisions or restrictions of Air Traffic Management (ATC)
  • Disturbance at the airport

Situations not considered as extraordinary circumstances are:

  • A technical problem (unless a manufacturing defect, damage due to sabotage/terrorism or due to an external cause such as a bird strike or hail)
  • A shortage of crew
  • A wildcat strike after restructuring of the airline

You are also not entitled to compensation if you did not arrive in time at the airport or for boarding (for example due to long queues at the security checks).

Points to note

  • The air carrier has an obligation to inform you about passenger rights;
  • If a delay lasts longer than 2 hours, passengers have rights to refreshments/meals/hotel (in proportion to delay period) and two phone calls;
  • If a delay exceeds five hours, a refund of the ticket can be requested if a passenger decides to decline from his flight;
  • A cancelled flight is a confirmed flight that was not performed irrespective of the reason why.

Complaints about a delay or cancellation of a flight

Complaints and requests for compensation must be claimed to the operating airline of the flight. The Dutch Council of State has determined that the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) has no legal authority to enforce individual requests for compensation. Based on Dutch legislation, it is primary the role of civil courts to assess claims for compensation. Per 2019, the ILT therefore no longer investigates individual complaints regarding financial compensation in case of a delay, cancellation or a missed connection. This prevents possible different assessments of the same individual situation. This means that the ILT no longer assesses your individual situation or complaint. 

What is the role of the ILT regarding passenger rights?

The ILT is appointed as the National Enforcement Body (NEB) of the Netherlands, responsible for the enforcement of the European passenger rights under EU Regulation EC No 261/2004 (Regulation). The ILT can take enforcement measures if investigation determines that an airline systematically infringes the Regulation. This can be the case when an airline often and during a longer period of time does not comply with the Regulation. The ILT needs passengers’ reports on complaints to be able to determine systematic infringements of the Regulation.

The report of your passenger complaint is therefore important to the ILT. A complaint can be reported via the form: Report a complaint about air passenger rights. The ILT can take enforcement measures by imposing (conditional) administrative penalty fines. The aim of our intervention is to improve the general compliance of airlines to the Regulation. The ILT does not provide feedback after receiving a report of an individual complaint, but informs via our website (in Dutch) about sanctions imposed to airlines or airports.   

The ILT also provides general advice about the steps to take when you do not reach an agreement with the airline. The Inspectorate only looks into reports of flights that have taken place shorter than a year ago.

  • Complaints about assistance for passengers with reduced mobility or a handicap and complaints about denied boarding of a flight are investigated by the ILT by requesting information from the airline or airport.
  • Complaints about financial compensation in case of a delay, cancellation or missed connection are registered as an alert signal to determine systematic infringement of the Regulation. The airline receives a notification with a copy of your complaint and is asked to contact the passenger to resolve the matter.   

When can you report a complaint to the ILT?

  • If your flight departed from the Netherlands
  • If you departed with a European airline to the Netherlands and you departed from outside of the EU.
  • Did your flight depart from another European country? You can then report your complaint to the national enforcement body of that county. The ILT cannot enforce on flights departing from another EU country. 

Whom to contact first

The airline is responsible for their performance with respect to the EU-regulation. Always contact your airline first for ticket reimbursement/compensation or assistance. Ensure that you address your complaint at the airline in question. It should not be addressed to your travel agency or tour operator. The airline often has a specific online form dedicated to complaints about passenger rights. 

If the airline relies on extraordinary circumstances for not compensating the passenger, it is the airlines responsibility to clearly substantiate these circumstances or reasons directly to the passenger.  

Do you disagree with the response of the airline?

In the Netherlands compensation claims can only be submitted to the civil district court.

You can bring a financial claim to civil court in the country of:

  • departure;
  • arrival or;
  • where the airline is registered.

When considering legal steps, please check for possible national time limitations to such applications. In the Netherlands this is limited to two years. You are not obliged to hire an attorney. In other countries, other time limits or procedures might apply, such as a possibility to claim via alternative dispute resolution entities.

Save a copy of your travel documents, these can serve as evidence. For claims regarding flights in other EU countries check the European Small Claims procedure: 

If you decide to bring the case to the competent national court, you might check:

Lost luggage on flight

The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate cannot handle luggage claims. Claims on lost luggage need to be filed in accordance with the ‘Montreal agreement'.