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Delayed and Cancelled Flights from Portugal: Your Compensation Options

Delayed and Cancelled Flights from Portugal: Your Compensation Options

Amy Lancelotte
Written By Amy Lancelotte
Last Updated: May 13, 2024

In terms of punctuality, Portugal consistently ranks low on a European scale. In 2023, according to Eurocontrol, only 49% of flights from Lisbon Airport were on time. This is down 6% from 2022 and well below the European network average of 65%.

Let’s let that sink in. One out of every two flights from the country’s busiest airport departed late.

When we embarked on a study of the best EU airlines for 2023, one thing that stood out was the flight delays experienced by TAP Air Portugal. As the most common airline for flights to, from, and within the country, TAP’s interruption numbers aren’t great. In fact, in 2022 and 2023 they were consistently the worst of the 15 airlines we reviewed for delays.

TAP only arrived on schedule 61% of the time in 2023. That’s 10% below the European average established by Eurocontrol. Flights cancelled from Portugal fared better in our study but still amounted to over 2,300 total flight cancellations in 2022 for all TAP routes.

When you experience a delay or cancellation, you try your best to get on with things, but when you get home, you should always file an official flight delay compensation claim or one for the flight cancellation. We’ll cover all the necessary info to make sure you know exactly what to do.

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Flight delay compensation in Portugal key details:

  • Many flights to and from Portugal qualify for cancellation or flight delay compensation according to regulation EC261.
  • Flight delays must be a minimum of 3 hours.
  • Flights cancelled from Portugal with less than 14 days' notice, may qualify for compensation.
  • Compensation ranges from €250 to €600.
  • There’s an exception to the standard flight delay compensation rules called extraordinary circumstances.
  • Passengers can claim for a delayed flight within 3 years of the delay.
  • Filing your claim through AirAdvisor can be done in 5 simple steps.

Portugal Flight Interruptions - The Numbers

According to Statistics Portugal, in 2023, the country handled a total of 67.5 million passengers. Of that, 15.9 million were on TAP Air Portugal, which accounts for 23.5% of the total volume. Let’s apply some of the information we know to see exactly how many passengers are affected by delays and flight cancellations.



Interruption Factor

Total Passengers Interrupted

All Portugal Passengers

67.5 million


23.63 million

TAP Passengers

15.9 million


6.71 million


* Calculated from 2023 flights by TAP as per OAG from Jan 2023 to Sep 2023. The on-time percentage was 57.78%.

Now, not all of these flights will qualify for compensation, but that’s still a staggering number of passengers that have had their flights delayed or cancelled.

Flight Delay Compensation in Portugal - Know Your Rights

Being aware of your rights as they relate to delayed flights can really help you understand why making a claim is worthwhile. Compensation is guided by EU regulation EC261 (also called EU261). Since reading all the details of this regulation is certainly tedious, we’ll summarize the important conditions for you:

  • Flight delays of fewer than 3 hours are not eligible.
  • The actual flight delay compensation amounts in Portugal depend on distance.
  • Only flights within or departing an EU airport are covered for every airline. Flights that arrive in the EU are covered when you fly with an EU-based airline.

Travel delays in Portugal

The Amounts for Delayed Flight Compensation in Portugal

Let’s get into the actual amounts of compensation you can expect based on the distance of your flight. We also assume here that your flight was delayed by at least 3 hours.

Delay Time at Final Destination

Total Flight Distance

EU flights less than 1500 km

Internal EU flights over 1500 km

Non-internal EU flights from 1500 km to 3500 km

Non-internal EU flights over 3500 km

Under 3 hours


3 hours or more






* It’s our goal to receive the highest amount of compensation from the airline. In some cases, this amount may be reduced to €300.

Which Flights from (to) PortugalQualify for Compensation?

Now that we know the distance and time requirements, it’s helpful to look at a few examples to put this information into practice. Here are some scenarios where flight delay compensation does not apply.

Departure Airport

Arrival Airport

Length of Delay at Destination

Approximate Flight Distance


Compensation Amount

New York JFK

Lisbon Humberto Delgado

5 hours

5,400 km

American Airlines

€0 - non-EU carrier only arriving in the EU.

Lisbon Humberto Delgado

Paris Charles de Gaulle

2 hours

1,470 km

Air France

€0 - delay not long enough

Los Angeles LAX

Orlando International

4 hours

3,560 km

United Airlines

€0 - no portion of the flight is in the EU.

On the other hand, many flights will qualify for flight delay compensation. Here are some of the most popular routes that touch Portugal:

Lisbon Humberto Delgado to London Heathrow

Departing from Lisbon and landing at London Heathrow Airport covers a distance of roughly 1,560 km. Because this route departs from an EU airport, it doesn’t matter which airline you fly. You should be eligible for delayed flight compensation of €400 per passenger, provided the delay exceeds 3 hours.

Faro International to Lisbon Humberto Delgado

Another popular route links the cities of Faro and Lisbon. Departing from Faro International Airport and arriving at Lisbon Airport travels about 210 km. Since this flight is entirely within Portugal, and therefore the EU, passengers should qualify for the lowest tier of compensation of €250 as long the delay is a minimum of 3 hours.

Sao Paulo Guarulhos to Lisbon Humberto Delgado

The route from Sao Paulo to Lisbon is an example of a distance that exceeds 3,500 km (it’s actually over 7,500 km). In this case, to get the maximum flight delay compensation of €600, passengers need to travel with an EU airline like TAP Air Portugal and experience a delay of 3 hours or more. If we reverse the route, since you would now be departing from the EU, flights with any airline would be eligible.

Have you run into a significant flight delay on the routes above or any other Portugal flights? Contact us now to start an easy claim.

The Role of Extraordinary Circumstances

To add a little more complexity to the situation, EU261 has an exception to the payment of flight delay compensation called extraordinary circumstances. Simply put, if the interruption is the direct result of something that is not within the airline’s control, the carrier isn’t required to issue any kind of remuneration.

These are the most common extraordinary circumstances:

  • Political unrest.
  • Security problems, terrorism, or sabotage.
  • Manufacturing defects with the plane.
  • Air traffic control or baggage handler strikes.
  • Extreme weather, like severe fog, lightning strikes, or blizzards.

When the airline has the power to resolve the situation or could have acted in advance to avoid the delay, EU 261 applies. So, if the delay is caused by airline staff strikes, poor aircraft maintenance, or airline staff shortages, don’t let the carrier wiggle out of paying the appropriate compensation.

TAP delayed flights

TAP Air Portugal Flight Delays

TAP is by far the most popular airline in the country, so if you’re planning to claim delay compensation in Portugal, chances are good that your flight was through TAP.

As mentioned, part of our research into the top EU airlines for 2023, found that TAP flights had an on-time average of under 60%. Flipping that means that over 40% of the time, TAP flights are delayed. This national airline scored the worst out of the 15 we reviewed in 2022 and 2023.

To file a TAP complaint about a delay, you can find a contact form on their website. Alternatively, the airline compensation experts at AirAdvisor can do all the heavy lifting for you if you want to avoid the hassle.

Was your TAP flight excessively delayed? Click here to confirm your compensation.

Flight Delay Compensation in Portugal - A Checklist

To really make sure that the rules are clear, here’s a list of the conditions you need to meet to qualify for delayed flight compensation in Portugal:

  • The delay time at your final destination is at least 3 hours.
  • Your flight was entirely within the EU.
  • Your flight departed from an EU airport.
  • Your flight arrived at an EU airport and was with an EU-based airline.
  • Extraordinary circumstances did not cause the delay.
  • You have the necessary documents to validate your claim. Keep everything about the flight including correspondence, boarding passes, and any reference numbers.

Portugal Flights Cancelled? Learn The Rules

For flights cancelled from Portugal, and for any EU cancelled flights for that matter, here’s what needs to happen to qualify for compensation:

  • Your flight must be cancelled by the airline less than 14 days prior to departure.
  • Compensation is based on distance and the longer the flight, the higher the amount. In general, for flights under 1,500km, the compensation maximum is €250. For flights between 1,500km and 3,500km, passengers can expect up to €400. And lastly, for flights exceeding 3,500km, the amount can be up to €600.
  • Passengers are also entitled to free meals and phone calls if they are stuck waiting at the airport for at least 2 hours.
  • If you took a replacement flight from the airline, compensation will be decreased based on how closely that flight’s arrival time sticks to the original flight.

The Steps to Submit Claims for Flight Interruptions in Portugal 4.6/5 based on 14,946 reviews

With a 98% rate of success and hundreds of thousands of satisfied clients, one of the best things you can do to ensure compensation (and the maximum amount of it) is to work with us. Here’s how to go about making a claim:

  1. Go to the AirAdvisor homepage.
  2. Add in your flight details.
  3. Attach any supporting documents you think are pertinent and click submit.
  4. We’ll let you know if anything is missing and file the claim directly with the airline. No follow-up from you is necessary.
  5. Receive the compensation maximum less a small fee that’s only levied on successful claims.

Flight delays at Lisbon Airport

Flight Delays in Portugal - Time Limits

In Portugal, passengers have up to 3 years from the delayed flight day to complete a claim. It’s best not to wait too long, though. When you don’t submit your flight delay compensation request as soon as you get home, a few things can happen:

  • You forget about it completely and never recover the compensation you’re owed.
  • You lose the important documents that are needed to validate your delay claim.

In general, you can expect a reply from most airlines within about 30 days from the initial complaint date.

Don’t want to risk letting your flight delay complaint fall by the wayside? Let us handle the claim process from initial submission to follow-up to payment.


What’s the minimum delay time to qualify for compensation in Portugal?

For EU regulation EC261 to apply, your flight must be delayed by 3 hours minimum.

What flights are eligible for flight delay compensation in Portugal?

Any flights that depart from Portugal will trigger EU261, and therefore be eligible for a compensation request. For flights that arrive in Portugal, as long as you’re flying with an airline based in the EU, compensation is possible. When a flight doesn’t depart or land within the EU or leaves an EU airport on a non-EU airline, compensation is not possible.

What is the airline required to provide if my flight gets postponed to the next day?

When a delay is so long that you won’t leave until the next day, passengers can be entitled to compensation in the form of a hotel for the night and airport transfers. Don’t just book something yourself, as this often has to be provided directly by the airline. Additionally, this is over and above the payout you should receive for a delay of over 3 hours.

How long do I have to claim flight delay compensation in Portugal?

Three years. This is from the date of the delayed flight, but the sooner the better. When you wait a long time, you can either forget to file the claim entirely or lose the documents that are required by the airline for a successful claim.

Are children able to claim for flight delays?

Yes. Provided your child is not on a lap fare and has their own ticketed seat, they would be eligible for the exact same flight delay compensation as adults, which varies from €250 to €600.

What additional expenses can I claim if my flight is delayed?

With a delay of at least 2 hours, passengers can claim for various items that will help navigate the delay. This includes things like food, drinks, and hotel stays. Whether or not you qualify depends on the total time spent waiting at the airport and the flight distance.

If a flight is over 3,500 km, the delay at the airport needs to be 4 hours or more. For flights from 1,500 km to 3,500 km, airport waiting must be a minimum of 3 hours. And for flights under 1,500 km, the airport delay just has to be at least 2 hours.

What happens when a delay causes a missed connection?

Similar to flight delay compensation, when a delay results in a missed connection, you may be entitled to compensation of up to €600 for your troubles.

What are extraordinary circumstances? Why do they matter?

Getting flight delay compensation in Portugal only happens as long as extraordinary circumstances don’t cause the interruption. These include things such as extreme weather, civil or political protests, and problems with air traffic control personnel.

Things that are not considered extraordinary circumstances are instances where the airline had some control over the outcome. Staff shortages, airline strikes, and poor maintenance of planes are examples of when flight delay compensation is possible.

Do airlines offer different kinds of compensation?

Yes, when a flight is overbooked or delayed, airlines may try to offer compensation like travel vouchers or discounts. Sometimes they’ll even offer cash, but this is almost always much lower than what you’d receive if you file a claim through the proper channels. It’s up to you what you prefer, but just know that accepting compensation on the day of the interruption means you can’t file any other compensation claims about the incident.

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