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Expansion of air passengers rights in Belgium

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Thanks to the recent Belgian Court of Cassation ruling, Belgian travellers can now fight longer for their cancelled or delayed flight compensation.

In the first decade of the 21st century, the European Union has established Regulation 261/2004, also known as the Flight Compensation Regulation. It allows air passengers to claim compensation for delayed and cancelled flights — if the flight has been delayed by at least 3 hours or cancelled fewer than 14 days in advance.

While the law applies to all the countries within the EU (and has also been adapted into the post-Brexit British law), it’s up to the country to choose how much time the passengers have to claim the compensation. For example, if flying to or from France, or flying from the EU with a French airline, a passenger has up to 5 years to issue such a claim. However, most countries have much stricter regulations.

Until recently, one of the strictest cases was Belgium. There, passengers had only a year to claim the compensation. If the airline hasn’t answered the claim within a year since the original departure date or has responded negatively very late, the passenger lost their chance for compensation.

This changes now, thanks to the recent ruling of the Belgian Court of Cassation, the country’s supreme court. According to it, non-payment of compensation by an airline is now considered a criminal offence, expanding the limitation period to 5 years. Even though Belgian travellers still have only a year to submit a claim for flight compensation, they can now fight for their air passenger rights for up to 5 years — in case the airline doesn’t respond in time or responds negatively.

The new ruling will mostly affect Belgian air passengers flying to non-EU countries. If flying to another EU state (or the UK), the flight compensation can always be claimed based on the most favourable law. For example, if the passenger is flying from Brussels to Berlin with a French airline, the most favourable option would be to apply for compensation based on the French law, as it allows to claim flight compensation up to 5 years after the original flight date.

Do you need help with claiming flight compensation? At, we have legal teams in 9 countries, meaning we can fight for your air passenger rights wherever you are based.

Check whether you are eligible for flight compensation in as little as a minute by using our free, easy-to-use Claim Calculator.

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