Has your flight been delayed? Or worse… has it been cancelled? Or even worst…has it been overbooked? Has it all happened in Europe?
Then do not go ballistic! Take a few steps back, breathe deeply and remember that you have certain rights! You should be aware that the European Union (EU) has regulated a substantial amount of rights if things go off beam while you’re flying in the European Union.
These rights that we mentioned above are applicable in cases when the plane has been delayed, cancelled or even overbooked and it is therefore impossible for you to go aboard the plane. Furthermore, they are valid if you are departing the EU by any airline or are arriving in the EU by a carrier that is registered in one of the European Union Member States, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland.
Get you money back or receive and alternative means of transportation
In case your plane has been cancelled, has been overbooked or worst case scenario, you have been denied boarding, than you have the right to:
- Be offered an alternative means of transportation to your final destination or
- Get your money back, i.e. ticket refunded, and if case may be, you can also be transported free of charge back to the place where you came from, i.e. initial point of departure.
Suppose, let’s say that that your flight has a nerve-racking delay of 5 hours or even more. You need to know that in this case the airline company is compelled to refund your ticket. Be aware, however, that in case you do accept such a refund, than the airline company is no longer obliged to offer you any additional forward VOYAGE or SUPPORT.
It is nonetheless true that the company has to notify you with regard to your rights alongside with the reason why the plane is late or it was cancelled, not to mention that they also must tell you why you have been denied boarding.
Apart from being refunded or provide with an alternative transport, you may also have the right to receive food and drink as well as a means of communication (a free phone call, for example) and, if applicable, overnight accommodation, depending on the distance of the flight or the duration of the delay.
Furthermore, whether you have been denied boarding, your flight arrives with a three hours delay or it has been called off, you have the right to receive a compensation of €250 – 600. It all depends on the DISTANCE OF THE FLIGHT.
Thus, if everything happened within the EU and the distance is of:
• 1,500 km or less – €250
• >1,500 km – €400
If, on the other hand, the unlucky events took concern the area between and EU airport and a non-EU airport, you are entitled to the following financial compensations:
• 1,500 km or less – €250
• 1,500 – 3,500 km – €400
• > 3,500 km – €600
We would like to note that the above mentioned distance is considered from the airport where you were not able to board the plane, meaning that this may not be the same to your point of initial departure.
However, in case the airline company decided to offer to a alternative flight which, of course, needs to have a similar timetable, the reimbursement might possibly be diminished to 50%.
Still…you will not be entitled to obtain a compensation of your plane ticket if the plane was called off due to:
- Extraordinary circumstances, such as bad weather, or if you were
- Notified 2 weeks previous to the programmed air travel date, or
- Provided an option for exactly the same direction and with a timetable that matches the initial one.
Nevertheless, things may not be as bleak as they seem. The airline company might not be obliged to provide you with a compensation for your distress. It must, however, provided you with either a TICKET REFUND (in full amount or only the fraction which you haven’t managed to use yet), an ALTERNATIVE MEANS OF TRANSPORT to your destination as soon as possible or, depending on the availability of the seat, a REBOOKING at an afterward time which you may choose.
We would also like to point out that, no matter how extraordinary the circumstances are, no matter how bad the weather may be the airline company has the obligation to offer you support whenever necessary for the period of time that you are waiting for your alternative transport.
Steps to take in order to obtain a refund or compensation
The easiest one is to send an air passenger rights EU complaint form to the airline company. We advise you to also keep a copy for yourself.
If the airline company seems numb at your complaint or in case you feel that they did not manage to satisfy you claims, you may also send a complaint to the national enforcement body in the European country where the incident took place. On the other hand, if the event took place an airport of departure outside the European Union but, nonetheless, implicated an EU airline, you may complain to the relevant national enforcement body in the EU country you were going to.