As a frequent traveller, you’ll have faced delays, cancellations and lost baggage more tfaimes than you would have liked…but understanding your rights as a passenger could make you money.
The European Union have established firm rules on what your rights as an airline passenger are, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that airlines will enforce or make sure you understand these rights. Therefore, it can pay off in the long run to understand what you are entitled to and make sure you get the most from any travel chaos that will inevitably occur when you fly a lot.
The EC regulation 261/2004 applies to all passengers and all flights departing from an airport located in the territory of an EU member state. It was implemented to protect passengers when they experience extreme circumstances of cancellation, delays and refused boarding and to enforce airlines to provide adequate compensation.
Overbooking – what are your rights?
When you are on a flight which has been overbooked by the airline, you might be denied boarding on to the flight. This is quite common practice that airlines will over-fill the flight in assumption that many will not make the flight and they can maximise the money they make on that flight run. Initially they might ask people to volunteer to give up their place on the flight, but if not enough people are willing to do this then they will have to make passengers leave the flight. When this occurs, you are entitled to cash compensation that is dependent upon the distance of your flight, make sure you note this as airlines may try and give you credit to the airline – but your rights are to a cash pay-out (known as Article 7). If the airline cannot get you to your destination within three hours of its scheduled arrival, then you can claim:
- €250 for flights of 1,500 km or less
- €400 for flights between member states of the EU that are more than 1,500 km and all other flights between 1,500 km and 3,500 km
- €600 for all other flights that exceed 3,500 km outside the EU.
It is worth understanding and asking for your rights to be upheld if your airline has bumped or denied you boarding and can’t find a suitable alternative for you.
Airlines are also required to offer assistance in rerouting you or offering full refunds on flights you’ve been denied boarding on (known as Article 8). They are also held to providing care in terms of meals, refreshments, accommodation and transport in relation to your wait and what is appropriate in your case (known as Article 9).
This allows passengers quite a wide range of compensation when it comes to being denied boarding, don’t simply accept what the airline might offer you, namely airline credit which might come with restrictive dates and time limits.
Delays and cancellations – what are your rights?
When it comes to delays and cancellations you are entitled to Article 7, 8 and 9 again in different variations dependent upon the circumstances.
For cancellations, you will only get the cash compensation if the airline does not either:
- Notify you of the cancellation more than two weeks before departure.
- Notifies you within seven to fourteen days in advance of your flight and is able to reroute you to arrive at your destination within four hours of the original time.
- Notifies you less than seven days in advance and is able to reroute you to arrive at your destination within two hours of the original time.
Any circumstances out with the above, mean that you are eligible to ask for the cash compensation as detailed above dependent on distance and disruption to the scheduled time you would reach your destination. However, there is the case of “extraordinary circumstances” which airlines can cite to not provide compensation. These types of circumstance are things such as:
- Extreme weather
- Airline/Staff strikes
- Mechanical faults
Although, it is important to note, most airlines will try and cite extraordinary circumstance to not have to pay out anything. It has been challenged that mechanical faults are within their controllable circumstances, so you would be well within your rights to challenge them if they turn down your claim on this basis.
For delays that exceed three hours, you are entitled to the Article 7 cash compensation. Whilst, if the delay exceeds five hours then you are also entitled to the Article 8 refund; this also applies to delays on the tarmac.
Knowledge is power
In the end as a frequent flyer, it is important to understand your rights and make sure that you fully exercise them when you run into issues at the airport. Mostly the airlines need to look after their profit/loss margins, and so will not outwardly explain your rights to you. It isn’t easy or a stress-free task understanding your rights or when to use them, but Ahoy is here to help you in this endeavor. Any questions you have in regards to delays, cancellations or denied boarding on your flights we will help you manage and understand what you can and cannot claim. To find out more, check us out here.