European regulations allow a series of rights for airline passengers that are denied boarding or experience a cancelled or late flight. All European citizens whose travel plans are affected must receive assistance and financial compensations.
The regulations of the European Parliament and Council no 261/2004 states that passengers leaving or entering the EU must receive compensations or assistance from airlines in case of prolonged delay or cancellation of flights. These include flights on airports outside the European Union as long as the carrier is authorized in a European country.
The minimum value of the compensation is 250 Euros and is given for all flights of 1,500 kilometers or less (type A).
For all EU flights of over 1,500 kilometers and all flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometers, a 400 Euro compensation is given (type B).
In case of flights outside the EU that go over 3,500 kilometers (type C), the compensation is of 600 Euros.
These sums of money are given besides the cost of the ticket, in case of denied boarding or when the flight is cancelled without passengers being announced on time and offered alternative flight options.
The compensation is given by cash, electronic bank transfer, bank order or bank cheque. If the passengers agrees in written, the compensation can also be given as travel cheques and/or other services.
The regulations are applied to all licensed airlines, whether they are line carriers or low-cost, but certain criteria have to be met.
The rights of passengers when flights are delayed or cancelled
For flights at least five hours late, passengers have the right to be offered in maximum seven days the full price of their ticket, at the price of acquisition for the part or parts of the trip that weren’t made and for the part/parts that are already made, if the flight becomes useless compared to the initial travel plan alongside, if possible, a return flight to the initial departure location, as soon as possible.
In case of cancellation, the airline must offer customers the possibility of choosing between having the money back for the ticket in maximum seven days or redirecting, in comparable transport conditions, to their final destinations, and make sure they receive proper assistance.
So you are entitled to reimbursement of the full cost of your ticket for the part of your journey not made or re-routing at the earliest opportunity. You should have received the refund of the cost of your ticket within seven days of the cancellation. Payment of compensation depends on the reason for the cancelled flight but the EU rules do not provide for a deadline for payment of compensation, Your Europe website shows.
Regarding passenger assistance, this is given if the flight is delayed as the following:
- 2 hours, in case of flights under 1,500 kilometers
- 3 hours, in the case of all flights inside the EU of over 1,500 kilometers and any other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometers
- 4 hours, in the case of flights outside the EU of over 3,500 kilometers
Airport assistance consists of:
- meals and drinks directly proportional with the waiting time
- accommodation at hotels if a stay of one or more night is necessary or if an extra stay is necessary, besides the one the passenger initially wanted
- transport between the airport and the accommodation
- the right to two free phone calls and sending messages through telex, fax or email
When compensations are not given
Airline carriers are not obliged to give passengers financial compensations if the cancellation of flights is caused by extraordinary circumstances that couldn’t be avoided despite all possible measures being taken.
Therefore, they are not to give compensations if the flights are affected by unfavorable weather conditions (heavy snow, wind, blizzard, dense fog etc.), yet they must provide another solution, though (reimbursement or redirecting) and assistance (meals and/or accommodation) while passengers wait another mean of transport.
Compensations are not given when companies inform passengers at least two weeks prior that their flight was cancelled or that the cancellation has been announced in an interval of 7 to 14 days before departure and passengers were offered an alternative route that would allow departure with 2 hours at most before the initial time, so that the travelers make it to the final destination in less than four hours after the initial arrival time.
Moreover, compensations are not given either if passenger are informed about the cancellation with less than seven days before the stated departure time and are offered an alternative route that would depart an hour the latest before the initial departure time and make it to their destination in maximum two hours after the initial arrival time.
Nevertheless, travelers have the right to compensations of less than 50%, even if they benefit from reimbursement or redirecting, if the carrier offers redirecting to the final destination with an alternative flight, whose arrival time does not go beyond the one of the original flight with two hours, in case of type A flights, three hours for type B flights and four hours for type C flights.
Millions of pounds recovered from the airline companies
In Great Britain, there are many companies that provide assistance to passengers for recovering the financial compensations they are entitled from air carriers. Most of them work on the principle ”no win, no fee”, and some of them boast that they have recovered millions of pounds for their clients.
Among these companies is FlightDelays, which presents itself as ”one of the UK’s leaders in recovering flight delay compensation”.
“143,012 passengers have already received our help in taking the fight to the airline to receive compensation. We have currently recovered over £17 million for our clients,” the company informs through its website.
“With a 99% success rate, we’ve claimed over £27.3m in compensation from the airlines”, also stands Bott & Co Solicitors, which says that over 176,000 people have chosen it to claim their flight compensation.
Likewise, FairPlane claims that in 2015 it reclaimed over £8.5 millions in flight delay compensation for its clients.