The continent's weary air travelers take heart. Passengers in the European Union may soon be entitled to hefty compensation when they are left grounded because an airline overbooked or cancelled a flight, according to the compromise text of a new by-law worked out by the Arbitration Commission of the European Parliament and Council of Ministers in Brussels. According to the new by-law, which could go into effect as early as the end of 2004, passengers would be entitled to compensation ranging from €250 to €600, depending on the length of the flight. This could apply to up to 250,000 passengers of scheduled flights and chartered airlines alike, according to figures released by the Commission. What's more, passengers would also be compensated when their flights are late: when a flight is more than five hours late, they can choose between a complete refund of the ticket price within 7 days or a return ticket to their point of origin provided at the earliest date possible. However, airlines are, of course, off the hook if they cancel or delay a flight due to a higher power, such as weather.