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Flight Cancellations and Delays from Spain: Compensation Options

Flight Cancellations and Delays from Spain: Compensation Options

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

In 2023, 283.5 million passengers passed through the 49 airports in Spain. Of that traffic, 43% (121.6 million passengers) was via Spanish airlines. On average, Spain has 4,616 flights every day, which means there’s a chance that travelers may experience a delayed or cancelled flight.

Spain's two major airlines, Iberia and Vueling, are leaders in punctuality in Europe. Based on information from Eurocontrol for 2023, Iberia’s flights arrived on time 85% of the time and Vueling’s 82% of the time. Since the European average sits at only 71%, we can conclude that these airlines are very reliable.

But even with reliable airlines, there are outliers. In 2022 alone, the top 3 Spanish airlines cancelled over 500 flights (more on this later). Are you a recent passenger in Spain who encountered one of these disruptions? If so, you’ll want to find out exactly how cancellation and flight delay compensation in Spain works.

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Our airline compensation experts have assisted well over 250,000 passengers just like you. If you ask them, they’ll recommend AirAdvisor 92% of the time for flight delay compensation claims. So, If you’re looking for a partner to guide you or help you claim delayed flight compensation in Spain, you’re in the right place.

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Key points

  • Spain-based airlines are required to follow the compensation guidelines in regulation EU261.
  • Passengers must receive 14 days' notice for any flight cancellations from Spain.
  • Compensation is only paid if the delay is at least three hours.
  • Passengers can be entitled to between €250 and €600 in compensation for a delayed flight.
  • Extraordinary circumstances (things outside the airline’s control) will negate compensation requirements.
  • Delayed flight compensation claims require an airline response within 30 days.
  • Passengers have 5 years to submit claims from the flight date.
  • AirAdvisor is the perfect partner to help you navigate the flight delay compensation Spain process.

Are Flight Delays From Spain Common?

We know now that the major airlines in Spain are quite reliable, but what about the airports? When we review the punctuality of the top 3 airports in the country and compare them to the 65% average, we find:

Airport

On-Time Departure %

Difference From Average

Madrid Barajas Airport

71%

+6%

Barcelona-El Prat Airport

67%

+2%

Palma de Mallorca Airport

67%

+2%

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* Data from Eurocontrol European Aviation Overview 2023

These airports skew above average for flight delays from Spain, although that still leaves about 30% of flights that encounter a delay.

Compensation for Delayed Flights - Your Passenger Rights in Spain

It may feel daunting to understand your rights related to flight delay compensation in Spain, but we’ll keep things as simple as possible. It all boils down to the EU regulation EC261, also known as EU261, which is what holds the airlines accountable in the event of a delayed flight.

Applicable EC261 Conditions

This regulation doesn’t just cover every delayed flight. There are certain conditions:

  1. The length of the delay needs to be a minimum of three hours. This is measured from the time you arrive, not the time you leave.
  2. Flight delay compensation amounts are based on distance.
  3. Your flight must either be entirely within the EU or depart from an EU airport if your airline is not an EU-based one. Alternatively, if your airline is based in the EU, the flight also applies when you arrive in the EU.
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It’s worth mentioning that when you have your plane cancelled, compensation is also a possibility. So, make sure you’re aware of all your passenger rights afforded to you by EU 261.

Passengers going to the gates in Barcelona, Spain

Compensation Amounts in Spain

To get an idea of how distance impacts flight delay compensation, keeping in mind the three-hour minimum, see below.

Destination Delay Time

Flight Distance

EU flights under 1500km

Internal EU flights of more than 1500km

Non-internal EU flights from 1500 km to 3500 km

Non-internal EU flights more than 3500 km

Less than 3 hours

€0

3 hours or more

€250

€400

€400

€600*

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We always challenge airlines for the maximum compensation, but depending on the delay time, this amount may be reduced by up to 50%.

Flight Delay Compensation - Is Your Flight to (from) Spain Covered?

All this information can sound a little confusing, so here is a handy chart showing some common flights, the amount of passenger compensation for delayed flights to expect, and explanations as to why:

Departure Airport

Arrival Airport

Length of Delay at Destination

Approximate Flight Distance

Airline

Compensation Amount

Explanation

London Heathrow

Madrid Barajas

3 hours

1,247 km (775 miles)

Vueling

€250

Meets 3-hour delay threshold; EU airline arriving in EU

Barcelona-El Prat

Tenerife South

4 hours

2,200 km (1,367 miles)

Ryanair

€400

Meets 3-hour delay threshold; EU airline arriving in EU.

Madrid Barajas

London Heathrow

2.5 hours

1,247 km (775 miles)

Vueling

€0

Does not meet 3-hour delay threshold.

Abu Dhabi Zayed

Barcelona-El Prat

5 hours

5,194 km (3,228 miles)

Etihad

€0

Non-EU airline departing from outside the EU.

Barcelona-El Prat

Abu Dhabi Zayed

6 hours

5,194 km (3,228 miles)

Etihad

€600

Meets 3-hour delay threshold; Non-EU airline departing from the EU.

Madrid Barajas

New York JFK

5 hours

5,762 km (3,580 miles)

Delta

€600

Meets 3-hour delay threshold; Non-EU airline departing from the EU.

New York JFK

Abu Dhabi Zayed

3 hours

11,092 km (6,892 miles)

Etihad

€0

Non-EU airline arriving and departing from non-EU airports.

Still confused? It’s easy to determine whether or not you can claim flight delay compensation by using our free flight checker

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AirAdvisor is happy to help with your claim, so you can avoid the stress of dealing with airlines and complicated laws.

Spain Flight Cancellations

As part of a larger data set related to the Best European Airlines, we gathered data from 2022 and the first 3 quarters of 2023 on cancelled flights. Here are the findings:

Cancelled Flights for Spain Airlines 2022

Airline

Cancellation %

Total Flights

Total Flights Cancelled

Air Europa

0.23%

63,326

145

Iberia

0.03%

189,282

56

Vueling

0.16%

220,441

352

Cancelled Flights for Spain Airlines 2023 (Jan 1 to Sep 30)

Airline

Cancellation %

Total Flights

Total Flights Cancelled

Air Europa

0.26%

50,857

132

Iberia

0.03%

158,761

47

Vueling

1.06%

165,719

1,756

While flight cancellations from Spain aren’t all that common, it’s worth noting that Vueling saw a significant increase in cancellations in 2023 over 2022, and many of these flights were set to depart from or arrive at Spanish airports.

Each of these cancelled flights represents a chance to claim compensation. Whether it’s for flights cancelled from Spain or to Spain, it’s worth a try!

Spain Flight Cancellations - The Rules

The passenger rights for flight cancellations in Spain also stem from EU 261. It states that passengers are primarily entitled to two things: a refund of the ticket price plus a return flight to your starting point or a replacement flight.

There are additional possibilities for compensation due to airport wait times and inconvenience, which involve the right to care (meals, phone calls, accommodation, etc.) and actual payouts from €125 to €600 based on your flight distance and new flight arrival time.

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Experienced a flight cancellation to Spain recently? Let our experts handle your claim. Start here.

The Catch - Extraordinary Circumstances

To complicate matters slightly, there’s this little thing called “extraordinary circumstances” that allows airlines to avoid paying flight delay compensation. This condition applies when something outside the airline’s control causes a flight delay. Here are some examples:

  • Civil or political unrest.
  • Terrorism, security issues, or sabotage.
  • Aircraft manufacturing defects.
  • Strikes with support services, like air traffic control and baggage handling.
  • Extreme weather.

On the other hand, if the delay is caused by these events, it is not considered extraordinary circumstances:

  • Airline staff shortages due to illness or tardiness.
  • Airline staff strikes.
  • Aircraft technical problems, aside from manufacturing defects.
  • Poor weather on a previous flight caused your plane to arrive late.

Common Spanish Airlines For Flight Interruptions

Put simply, any Spain-based airline is required to issue compensation if the parameters discussed above are met. Each airline is bound by regulation EU 261 depending on the flight route, but here are the top Spanish airlines and how to claim compensation for flight delays or cancellations:

Iberia plane waiting for takeoff

Iberia

beria is the country’s national carrier and a popular choice. Our research using OAG revealed that in 2022 and 2023, the combined weighted average of delayed Iberia flights was 13.89%. This may not seem like a lot, but with the number of flights the company operates annually, which is close to 200,000, that’s roughly 25,000 instances that could potentially qualify for flight delay compensation every year.

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If your flight was delayed by three hours or more or cancelled without sufficient notice, it’s worth reviewing our guide on how to claim compensation from Iberia.

Flight delay compensation regulations for Vueling

Vueling

Vueling is the Spanish airline with the largest fleet, and all those planes can certainly get delayed. Vueling has a similar track record for flight delays as Iberia, so this is another opportunity for passengers to claim plane delay compensation. 

Vueling is required to provide passenger compensation for delayed flights when the delay is at least three hours and not due to extraordinary circumstances. You can file a delayed flight compensation claim using the forms on their website by following the numerous prompts. Here you can find more information about Vueling flight delay compensation procedures.

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Was your Vueling flight delayed by three hours or more? Click here to check your flight delay compensation eligibility.

Flight delay compensation Spain - delayed Air Europa flight taking off

Air Europa

Although Air Europa is the third-largest airline in the country, it still manages to transport over 10 million travelers annually. Air Europa’s on-time percentage dipped slightly in 2023, representing even more opportunities to claim.

The Air Europa complaints procedures are similar to the other Spanish carriers we’ve mentioned. You can find complaint forms on their website. Since this is a Spanish airline, remember that all flights are eligible as long as the delay is at least three hours and the flight either departs or lands in the EU.

When Am I Ineligible For Passenger Compensation?

To further cement the rules, let’s now review all the reasons you may not qualify for flight delay compensation in Spain:

  • Your flight was delayed by less than three hours upon arrival.
  • Your flight departed from a non-EU airport, and you flew with a non-EU airline.
  • Your flight with an EU airline both departed and arrived outside the EU.
  • The delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances.
  • You don’t have the necessary supporting documents. Hint: keep everything!

Steps To Submit A Claim For Flight Delay Compensation in Spain

Hands down, the easiest way to claim passenger compensation for delayed flights is by partnering with AirAdvisor. We have a 98% success rate and have a 15,074 out of 5 rating on Reviews.io. Additionally, your chances of actually receiving plane delay compensation go up exponentially when you trust our experience. Here’s what to do:

  1. Head straight to our website to start your claim with our airline compensation experts.
  2. Fill out a few simple details about your flight and your specific scenario.
  3. Submit your information along with any supporting documents.
  4. AirAdvisor will take care of the entire flight delay compensation process for you.

For the convenience and increased odds of a payout, we only levy a small fee off successful claims.

Flight delay compensation Spain - Barcelona-El Prat Airport Terminal 1

Flight Delay Compensation - Time Limits in Spain

In Spain, you have five years from the day of the flight to submit for late flight compensation. Sooner is definitely better to avoid losing documents and forgetting details. You should look to file a claim as soon as you return home from the flight.

As for the airline, they are required to respond to flight compensation requests within 30 days, so make sure you hold them accountable.

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Worried about the timeframe you have to submit flight delay complaints in Spain? Speed things up by partnering with us.

FAQs

How long does my flight delay have to be to qualify for flight delay compensation?

To trigger regulation EU 261, your flight must be delayed by at least three hours.

Is every flight eligible for flight delay compensation in Spain?

If you reside in Spain, most of the flights you book will be eligible for flight delay compensation. The exceptions are flights that depart from outside the EU with a non-EU carrier and flights that are entirely outside the EU, regardless of the airline.

What happens if my flight is postponed to the following day?

Passengers will often be entitled to accommodation and airport transfers paid by the airline. This is in addition to any disrupted flight compensation. Check with the airline before you book anything at your own expense.

What’s the time limit for flight delay compensation Spain?

Passengers have up to five years from the flight date to claim for European flights and up to two years for international ones. 

Can kids claim delayed flight compensation?

Yes, as long as your child has their own ticket and seat, they are considered an eligible passenger and can claim delay compensation in the same amounts as adults (up to €600).

What if a flight delay causes a missed connection?

In certain cases, passengers can claim missed connection compensation between €250 and €600 if their first flight is delayed.

What if the flight delay is caused by something outside the airline’s control?

Flight delay compensation in Spain is only possible when the delay is not caused by extraordinary circumstances. These are things like severe weather, political unrest, air traffic control issues, and strikes by baggage handlers. On the other hand, if your flight is delayed due to something that the airline could have prevented, such as airline staffing issues, poor maintenance, and airline strikes, compensation is a possibility.

What if the airline offers me alternate compensation option?

Of course, it’s up to you whether or not you accept things like discounts and vouchers in lieu of compensation. Make sure you weigh the amounts carefully. Accepting this alternate compensation will negate your ability to claim official flight delay compensation according to regulation EU261.

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