For those that are not still stuck in work or school, summer is a chance to jet out abroad, in an attempt to find sun, or even an adventure. However, all this excitement and anticipation can be dampened by the cancellation or delay of your flights.
In the first instance, most probably aren’t occupied or aware of the rights they are entitled to in this situation. However, always remember that if your flight is delayed, cancelled, or you are denied boarding that your rights are held in ‘EC Regulation 261/2004’ and you should receive a notice of your rights if your travel plans are affected. You can ask for written notice of your rights under Article 14 of the regulations.
You can view the entire EC Regulation 261/2004 here.
Delays can be unsavoury. Article 6 qualifies your delay rights and when they will apply by reference to the length of your delay and the distance you were travelling. These are banded as:
- Two or more hours in the case of 1500km or less
- Three or more hours in the case of 1500-3500km
- Four or more hours in the case of all flights not falling under the previous 2 bands.
If your situation falls under these, and is not due to an extraordinary circumstance, you are entitled to the ‘Right to Care’. However, if the delay is above five hours, you are entitled to reimbursement.
If your flight is delayed by three hours or more, you may be entitled to compensation – subject to the defence of Extraordinary Circumstances.
A cancelled flight doesn’t have to mean a cancelled trip. Flights get cancelled all the time, however if one does get cancelled, for whatever reason, it is necessary to be aware of the rights you are entitled to. Article 5 states that passengers on the wrong end of a cancellation shall be offered assistance by the air carrier, as well as the relevant compensation. That is unless
- You are informed of the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure
- You are informed of the cancellation between two weeks and seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing you to depart no more than two hours before the scheduled time of departure and to land less than four hours different to the original time.
- You are informed of the cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing you to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach your final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival.
If your flight is delayed by five hours or more, or is cancelled altogether, then you are eligible for a reimbursement or re-route under Article 8. Reimbursements are offered for up to 7 days, with the full ticket price refunded, or parts of the journey which were not travelled, depending on circumstance.
Re-routing is an option where, if chosen, you can travel to your destination via comparable transport conditions. This equates to another form of transport such as train or ferry. This can be arranged for as close as possible to your original departure time, or a time that would be more comfortable with you.
Right to care
Article 9 gives you the Right to Care if you are delayed or cancelled. This can be anything from free meals, to overnight accommodation in hotels as well as additional transport to and from these. Make sure you ask for these if you suffer from long delays or cancellations, and if they aren’t offered keep any receipts so that you can claim later!
Sometimes, when a delay or cancellation takes place, it isn’t the direct fault of the airline. Therefore, when trying to make a claim or to use your rights, the airline can claim that the delay/cancellation was due to ‘Extraordinary Circumstances’. The generic principle of an extraordinary circumstance is that it is unpredictable, unavoidable and external. However, full definitions are available here.
The key message here is to know your rights. Know what they are and when they apply. Don’t wait for the airline staff to tell you your rights, be proactive and don’t be frightened to use them!