Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Flight Cancellations and Delays – Know Your Rights!




With the current strike of air traffic controllers in France wreaking havoc across Europe and leaving a trail of flight cancellations and delays, I have one question, do you know your rights when it comes to flight cancellations and delays? If your answer is 'Kinda', I’m here to help clarify your entitlements.

Thanks to European Regulation EC 261/2004 and a 2009 European court ruling we now have a definitive set of rules that airlines must adhere to. Whether you are entitled to meals, hotels, refunds and/or compensation all depends on a variety of factors that I’ll outline below.


Flight Cancellations:

If your airline cancels your flight regardless of the time-frame in which you are notified you are entitled to one of three options.

1. Re-routing near your original departure time.

2. Flying on your original route or re-routing at a later date.

3. Full refund of your flight ticket.

If you receive more than 2 weeks notice of your flight cancellation you are entitled to the above options but no compensation. If you agree with the airline to be re-routed they have an obligation to transport you from the re-routed airport to your original choice of airport.

If you receive between 7 days and 2 weeks notice and choose the first option to be re-routed you may be entitled to compensation if your departure time is more than 2 hours before your original departure time and your arrival time is more than 4 hours after your original arrival time. But if the airline can prove the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances you will not be entitled to any compensation.


If you receive 7 days or less notice of a cancellation and choose the first option you may be entitled to compensation if your re-routed flight departs more than an hour after your original departure time and more than 2 hours after your original arrival time. Again if the airline can prove the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances you will not be entitled to any compensation. However if you have chosen the first option the airline must provide you with care and assistance such as:

· Refreshments and meals depending on the length of delay.

· Hotel accommodation if an overnight is necessary including transport to and from the hotel.

· 2 calls or e-mails.

If the airline does not provide you with any of these keep your receipts as you are entitled to a refund of these expenses.


Flight Delays:

Your entitlements in relation to flight delays depends on if you were flying short, medium or long haul, you are entitled to care and assistance listed above if:

· Short haul flights (less than 1,500kms) must be delayed more than 2 hours.

· Medium haul flights (between 1,500kms – 3,500kms) must be delayed more than 3 hours.

· Long haul flights (greater than 3,500kms) must be delayed more than 4 hours.

If your flight is delayed more than 5 hours regardless of short, medium or long haul and you decide not to travel you are entitled to a full refund of your flight tickets. Your airline should provide you with a written copy of your entitlements.

As a result of a European court ruling in 2009 you are entitled to compensation if you arrive at your destination more than 3 hours after your original arrival time. But if the airline can prove the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances you will not be entitled to any compensation.

If you have a dispute with the airline in relation to this you can make a complaint to the relevant enforcement agency. A full list can be found HERE.

Should you be entitled to compensation, the amounts below are payable per passenger depends on the distance of the flight you booked:

· Shout Haul €250

· Medium Haul €400

· Long Haul €600

If you don’t know the distance of your flight you can use the Great Circle Mapper website HERE to calculate it for you, which is interesting enough in its own right, especially when showing little ones how far they'll be travelling (if they ever take off).

Tell us have you ever experienced serious delays or even cancellations? Were you aware of your rights at the time? 

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