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Consumer Rights in Relation to Delayed or Cancelled Flights

Has your flight been delayed or cancelled? Find out about your rights here!

When your flight is canceled, or when there is a long delay, as a passenger you have rights which are protected by Regulation 261/2004 of the European Union.

When does the Regulation apply?

The above Regulation applies to passengers departing from airports of any Member State of the European Union as well as to passengers departing from an airport of a third country bound to an airport of a Member State.

Can an operating air carrier deny you boarding?

According to the Regulation, when an operating air carrier reasonably expects to deny boarding, it must first call for volunteer passengers who are willing to surrender their reservations by offering them benefits (for example a sum of money). Passengers are also provided with either a refund or a transfer on the earliest possible flight to their final destination or re-routing under comparable transport conditions to their final destination at the earliest opportunity subject to availability of seats.

What happens in case of a flight cancellation?

In cases where a flight is cancelled, the passenger has the following rights in accordance with the table below:

Cancellation Compensation Right to Care
When the passenger was informed of the cancellation at least 2 weeks before the scheduled departure date or

 

When the air carrier proves that the cancellation was caused by an emergency which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken

No right to compensation.

 

However, at the option of the passenger there is a right of refund or transfer of the passenger to his final destination with the earliest possible flight or transfer under comparable transport conditions to his final destination at a different date

In all other cases

 

Right to compensation between 250 Euro to 600 Euro

 

Also, at the option of the passenger there is a right of refund or transfer of the passenger to his final destination with the earliest possible flight or transfer under comparable transport conditions to his final destination at a different date.

 

(1)               Meals and Refreshments

 

(2)               Right to two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails free of charge

(3)               Hotel accommodation where a the flight is the next day along with transportation to and from the hotel.

What happens in case of a flight delay?

When the air carrier reasonably expects that a flight will be delayed in relation to the scheduled departure time then it provides care and compensation according to the table below provided that the passenger presents himself/herself for check-in at the time previously indicated in writing by the air carrier, tour operator or an authorised travel agent, or if no time is specified, no later than forty-five minutes before the published departure time of the flight.

Delay Compensation Right to Care
Three hours or more for flights up to 1500 kilometres 250 Euro  

 

 

 

(1)            Meals and Refreshments

 

(2)            Right to two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails free of charge

 

Three hours or more for flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres 400 Euro
Three hours or more for flights over 1500 kilometres within the European Union

 

400 Euro
Between three and four hours for flights over 3500 kilometres between an airport within the EU and an airport outside the EU

 

300 Euro
Four hours or more

 

600 Euro

 

In case the departure time is expected to be at least the next day from the previously announced departure time, then accommodation is provided at a hotel as well as transfer from the hotel to the airport, at the air carrier’s expense.

Upgrading or downgrading

If an air carrier places a passenger in a class higher than that for which the ticket was purchased, it may not request any supplementary payment.

If an operating air carrier places a passenger in a class lower than that for which the ticket was purchased, it shall within seven days reimburse,

(a) 30 % of the price of the ticket for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less, or

(b) 50 % of the price of the ticket for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres, except flights between the European territory of the Member States and the French overseas departments, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres or

(c) 75 % of the price of the ticket for all flights not falling under (a) or (b), including flights between the European territory of the Member States and the French overseas departments.

How is compensation paid out?

The compensation must be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services.

This article does not constitute legal advice.

The publication of this article is partly funded by the European Union’s “Consumer Programme (2014-2020)”.

 

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