What Are Your Rights When Things Go Wrong At The Airport
Recently there has been a lot of press about being bumped from flights along with lengthy flight delays and cancellations. You have certain rights that will depend on whether your flight is domestic or international – particularly to the EU. Thanks to the Luxury Travel Expert – find him at www.luxurytravelexpert.com – here is an outline of what you will be owed if you run into problems during this Holiday season. We will look at the EU first and the US in a future blog.
The U.S. and the European Economic Community (EEC) have established some very specific rights for air travelers. Unfortunately, only a few travelers are aware of their rights (including entitlement to financial compensation) and it is important to know them in case things go wrong, such as flight delays, flight cancellation, and overbookings that prevent you from boarding. The following is an overview of basic air-passenger rights in the U.S. and Europe.
The European Union (EU) is the only region in the world where passengers enjoy well-defined, basic rights when travelling by air, on condition that (1) they are departing from any airport situated in the EU, or (2) arriving in the EU with an EU carrier or one from Iceland, Norway or Switzerland. Passenger rights are protected by EU’s Regulation EC261.
1. Refund or alternative transport
If you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled, overbooked or delayed by 5 hours or more, you are entitled to either:
transport to your final destination using comparable alternative means, or
having your ticket refunded and, where relevant, being returned free of charge to your initial departure point.
If you accept a refund, the airline does not have to provide any further onward travel or assistance.
Your airline must inform you about your rights and the reason for being denied boarding, or any cancellations or long delays (over 2 hours, although this may be up to 4 hours for flights in excess of 3500 Km).
2. Financial compensation
If you are denied boarding, your flight is cancelled or arrives more than 3 hours late on arrival at the final destination stated on your ticket, you may be entitled to compensation of €250 – 600, depending on the distance of the flight:
Within the EU
1,500 km or less: €250
over 1,500 km: €400
Between EU airport and non-EU airport
1,500 km or less: €250
1,500 – 3,500 km: €400
over 3,500 km: €600
On connecting flights, the distance is calculated to your final destination, not to some intermediate hub.
If the carrier offered you an alternative flight with a similar schedule, the compensation may be reduced by 50%.
With cancelled (or delayed) flights, you won’t receive compensation if:
the cancellation (or delay) was due to extraordinary circumstances for example due to bad weather, or
you were informed 2 weeks before the scheduled flight date, or
you were offered an alternative for the same route with a similar schedule to the original one.
For cancellation due to extraordinary circumstances you may not have the right to compensation, the carrier must still offer you either:
a ticket refund (in full or just the part you have not used)
alternative transport to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or
rebooking at a later date of your choice (subject to seat availability).
Even in extraordinary circumstances, airlines must provide assistance when necessary, while you are waiting for alternative transport.
3. How to get a refund or compensation
Submit an air passenger rights EU complaint form to your airline and make sure you keep a copy for yourself. If this doesn’t work, or you aren’t satisfied with the reply, you can complain to the national enforcement body in the EU country where the incident took place. Or, if the incident happened at an airport of departure outside the EU but involved an EU airline, you can send a complaint to the relevant national enforcement body in the EU country you were travelling to.
I hope this helps and may all of your flights be worry free!