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Compensation for Flight Delays

Published 01/06/2009

There are situations when you can make a claim for money back for flight cancellations, over bookings, and even delays, but it is important to know when and how...

Unfortunately, at times, a delayed flight can totally destroy the excitement and anticipation we feel before a holiday begins and even worse rob us of the “feel good” factor that we have achieved when it ends. Fortunately the law is on our side and protects us in this disagreeable situation but it is essential that we know how to activate the relevant claim procedure.

According to E.U. legislation if a flight is cancelled the airline is obliged to compensate the traveller and offer assistance regarding re-booking. The passenger must register a complaint at the airline company’s desk and follow this up with a written complaint addressed to the company’s head office. These rights extend to any kind of flight, including European charter flights but in this instance the airline company must be European.

In cases when the number of passengers exceed the available seats the airline operator must first request if any passengers will voluntarily give up their seats in exchange for a refund or the offer of alternative transportation to the final destination. In the absence of volunteers the company must pay out in compensation between 250€ and 600€, according to the destination distance and the length of delay.

In this kind of situation the client must claim from the airline company and it is recommendable at the same time to seek advice from a consumer rights organization. The Civil Aviation Authority or the Consumer Protection Authority in the country corresponding to the airline would be able to assist.

Travellers also have the right to claim compensation in the case of loss, damage or delay to their luggage. The maximum amount is approximately 1,200€, except in cases of loss and a higher value has already been declared. It is common practice for the airline operators to significantly reduce the amount of compensation. If this should occur the passenger must contact the Civil Aviation Authority. It is recommended to keep receipts for the purchase of new items and proof of any additional expenses incurred in the case of loss or delay of luggage.

If there is a long delay and it is no longer convenient for me to travel can I cancel my flight ticket?

In the case of voluntary cancellation a refund of the cost of the flight depends on the length of the delay and the distance of the destination. The airline company is obliged to offer food, beverages and accommodation if the delay is for more than two hours and the destination is up to 1,500 kilometres away (3 hours for flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres or 4 hours for more than 3,500 kilometres). If this right is denied a claim must be presented by the traveller immediately to the flight desk.

The right to cancel a flight and insist on a refund also depends on the type of ticket and the contracted conditions. Low cost flight ticket purchasers could be unpleasantly surprised by their lack of rights so this is something that should be taken into consideration when shopping around for the best overall deal.

Caroline Clinton

Caroline Clinton
Customer Care Department

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