Millions of passengers fly every year, but many still do not know that there is a right to hefty compensation in the event of delay or cancellation. The European Union regulation on air passengers’ rights has been in force since 2004 and disciplines airlines to operate flights at scheduled times. In addition, the airline is obliged to provide passengers with food, drink, accommodation, and a possibility to rebook the flight, if necessary.
The regulation applies to flights within the European Union, departing from a European airport and arriving in Europe, but in the latter case only if the company operating the flight is located in the European Union.
Under the regulation, the passenger is entitled to compensation in three cases:
- if the flight is overbooked;
- if the flight has been canceled and less than 14 days’ notice has been given;
- if the flight is delayed for more than 3 hours
The amount of compensation depends on the distance traveled.
For journeys of less than 1500 km, the compensation is EUR 250;
EUR 400 for 1500-3500 km;
EUR 600 for flights of more than 3500 km.
Even if the flight is delayed by less than three hours but you miss your connecting flight and you are still more than three hours late to your final destination, you are entitled to compensation. The delay at the final destination is important.
It is important to keep the reservation or airline tickets, as not all airlines pay the compensation on first demand. If the airline has been contacted or no reply is received, consumers can either turn to the Consumer Protection Board or court.
Passengers should be careful with accepting vouchers or free tickets offered by the airline, as they may be of lesser value than the compensation and the passenger must always have the option of receiving financial compensation if they wish to do so.
The airline is released from the obligation to pay compensation in exceptional circumstances, such as a strike, very severe weather conditions, a ban on air traffic control, political unrest, or other security risks.
The passenger does not have to go through the process of claiming compensation themselves and the assistance of a law firm or relevant service providers can be sought upon if they desire to do so.
Flight compensation can be claimed for three years, and the right to file a claim also exists if someone else bought the flight ticket for you.