If flight delays or cancellations have put a dampener on your travel plans this summer, then the good news is that under European law you may be able to get some compensation.
The regulation that you’re covered under is known as EU Regulation 261/2004 and this establishes what rights passengers have in the event of flight delays and cancellations.
Flight delayed? Here’s where you stand…
Under the EU regulation, you could be entitled to up to €600 (£536) if your flight lands at its destination over three hours late.
The only grey area here is if the delay has been caused by what’s known as extraordinary circumstances, for example if there’s been bad weather or the crew is on strike. And whilst you may not get any compensation if you are affected by this, the airlines do still have a duty of care to passengers. This includes making sure you’re sorted with meals and refreshments during the delay and transport between the airport and accommodation if you’ve had to stay somewhere before catching a delayed flight.
How much compensation you’re entitled to will depend on the length of the flight and how long it was delayed for. For example, if your flight was delayed by at least three hours you could be eligible for at least €250 (£223), and this could then go up to €600 (£536) if your flight was delayed by at least four hours and you were flying between an EU and non-EU airport.
You can claim by getting in touch with the airline you were travelling with and remember to quote your flight number, the names of passengers and the reason for the delay.
Where do you stand if your flight was cancelled?
If you’re told your flight has been cancelled, then you have the right to get an alternative flight to your destination for no extra cost, or cancel the flight and get a full refund.
If neither of these are possible then the other option is to fly you to your destination with a different airline, if there’s room on the flight. If you have to pay for this separately then you should also be able to claim any extra money paid back – as long as you can prove that your original airline couldn’t give you another suitable option.
If you’re given more than 14 days’ notice about the cancellation, you’ll only be entitled to a new flight or a refund for your original flight. But if you were given 14 or less days’ notice, you might be able to claim compensation on top of a refund or alternative flight.
The amount of compensation you could get will differ depending on when you were told about the cancellation, the length of the flight, and how long you had to wait for a new flight. You’ll need to speak to the airline directly and let them know the details about your cancellation and why you feel you’re entitled to compensation.
Could the airline turn down your claim?
It is possible for an airline to turn down claims for compensation, especially if they deem the circumstances to be extraordinary and out of their control.
There is a bit of confusion around what’s covered by extraordinary circumstances and airlines may try to avoid paying compensation by claiming delays/cancellations were because of these but a key thing to bear in mind is that these have to be circumstances ‘which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken’.
If you don’t agree with the airline’s decision then your next option would be to challenge their decision by writing back to them and explaining why you don’t agree with the decision. You could also explain that you’re prepared to take the matter up with the Civil Aviation Authority if things aren’t settled correctly.
We hope you found this guide useful and we’d love to hear from you if you’ve been able to get compensation if you’ve been affected this summer. Tweet us @useyournoddle to let us know.