Any frequent traveler has experienced at least one long flight delay, which may have caused him or her serious difficulties and inconvenience.
For some, a delayed or canceled flight means fewer hours of vacation, while others may miss an important meeting, an event that you were looking forward to, or even the last hours of a loved one's life.
In order to protect travelers and respect their rights, the European Union has adopted EU Regulation 261/2004. The Regulation sets out what airlines should do to ensure that a person receives all the attention and care in the event of a delayed, canceled, overbooked or degraded flight and in other similar cases.
If you were in such a situation, this article will help you easily determine if you have the right to claim compensation. If so, how much does the airline owe you and how can you claim compensation?
EU regulation on denied boarding, cancellation and delay of flights
EU Regulation 261/2004 sets minimum rights for passengers if they are not allowed to board against their will, if they cancel their flight or if their flight is delayed.
Passengers whose flight is delayed should be provided with food and drinks. If the flight is delayed overnight, the passenger should also be offered accommodation.
Each passenger is entitled to compensation if the carrier has not informed him in good time about the delay.
Which flights are covered by the EU regulation?
Since the EU Regulation applies only to flights that are in one way or another connected to the EU, only the passengers of the following flights can claim compensation:
- The flight takes place within the EU and is operated either by an EU or a non-EU airline.
- The flight comes from outside the EU to the EU and is operated by an EU airline.
- The flight departs from the EU to a non-EU country operated by an EU or non-EU airline.
Who is entitled to compensation for flight delays?
Any person whose flight is covered by the EU Regulation more than three hours late is entitled to compensation.
If your flight has recently been delayed, you have the right to claim compensation from the carrier if you have a confirmed reservation for the flight in question and one of the following conditions applies to you:
- You have reported in writing to the carrier, the tour operator or an authorized travel agent at the appointed time (unless a time has been set at least 45 minutes before the published departure time).
- Irrespective of the reason, they have been transferred from one airline or one tour operator to another on the flight for which they have made a reservation.
How much can I claim as compensation for my delayed flight?
The compensation for a flight delay is between € 250 and € 600 per passenger. How much you will be compensated depends on the distance of the trip as follows:
- 250 € for flights under 1500 km.
- 400 € for flights between 1500 km and 3500 km. If your flight has started and arrived in the EU, this is the amount of compensation, even for flights over 3500 km.
- 600 € for distances over 3500 km, If the delay is between three and four hours, your refund may be halved in this case.
Please note that the refund must be in cash, electronic transfer, bank transfer or check, or with your signed agreement in travel vouchers and / or other services.
How do I make a claim for compensation for a delayed flight?
If you believe that you are entitled to compensation for flight delays, you must assert them. Nobody will compensate you if you do not ask for it. You have several options for claiming compensation, as you deem appropriate.
Below we have explained each of these options. At what stage of your claim you should consider each option.
Complain to the airline
This is the first step that every business has to take. You can not jump to the second, third, or last option without trying it out. If you can not complain to the airline, you can try one of the others.
To complain to the airline responsible for your long flight delay, flight cancellation or downgrade, you should check the box "MOTOR APPLICATION FOR AIR RIGHTS RIGHTS – EU".
The form must be completed in capital letters. It contains the following questions that you all have to answer:
- Your first and last name (if you file the complaint yourself).
- Your home address, zip code, city and country.
- Your e-mail and phone number.
- The name of the other passengers with whom you file a complaint.
The form contains the definition of "long delay", "cancellation", "denied boarding" and "demotion". You must tick the appropriate one for you.
You also have four YES or NO Ask:
- If you have a confirmed reservation for the flight concerned.
- If you have reported to the check-in desk at the latest by the time specified by the airline (or if no time has been specified: no later than 45 minutes before the published departure time of the flight).
- If you presented yourself at the gate at the time indicated on the boarding pass
- If your airline has informed you of your rights.
After completing the form, you must print and sign it. You can mail it to the airline, but it is highly recommended to scan it and send it by e-mail. In both cases, keep a copy of the complaint form for yourself. If the carrier refuses to consider your complaint, you will need the form for further action.
Complain to the national authorities
Once you submit the complaint form to the airline, you should wait for their response. If they do not report to you within two months, or you are not satisfied with their response, you can proceed to the next phase of the right to flight compensation.
In such a case you should send your complaint to the National Enforcement Body in the Member State where the incident occurred. Send them an e-mail with the complaint you previously sent to the airline and explain what happened: The airline did not respond, or you believe that their answer is unfair.
The national authority then gives you a non-binding legal opinion for the further processing of your claim.
Please note that in the event that the incident occurred at an airport of departure outside the EU, you should contact the national enforcement body in the Member State of destination.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) / Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) for EU citizens
If the airline does not answer you or if you are not satisfied with the answer, as an EU citizen you have other options to deal with your complaint.
You can try to solve your dispute by:
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), They may appoint neutral out-of-court bodies such as arbitrators, mediators, arbitrators and the Ombudsman or Boards of Appeal. They investigate your case and suggest a solution or even impose one if you and the airline fail to reach an agreement.
- Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) Platformif you bought your ticket online. You can file your complaint through the free EU online dispute resolution web site that handles your disputes.
Lawsuit – European Small Claims Procedure
If none of the above procedures work for you or if you wish to go to court immediately after the airline refused to compensate you, you can do so using the European Small Claims Procedure.
You can file the claim for damages with a competent court at:
- Place of arrival or departure for flights between EU countries (operated by an airline) or
- before the courts of the country where the airline is registered.
To complete the small claims procedure, you must complete the following fields Form A and add any documents that support your claim as receipts or invoices.
Once the court has received your complaint, it will review it. If required information is missing, you will be asked to complete it Form B,
You will be charged a court fee for the European Small Claims Procedure. The fee will be refunded if your case succeeds.
The airline has the right not to compensate you if the delay was caused by "exceptional circumstances". Exceptional circumstances for flight delays are:
- Bad weather (ie: blizzards, wind storms, poor visibility).
- Strikes of the airport staff and union strikes.
- Bird strikes.
- Air traffic control restrictions (including taxiway closures).
- Political and civil unrest.
Although some carriers cite technical issues as grounds for non-compensation, these are not considered exceptional circumstances, as the maintenance of the aircraft constitutes the obligation of the airline. Therefore, if a flight could not depart on time due to a mechanical problem, the carrier would not have fulfilled its obligations.
Commitments of the airline to you
The airline has several obligations to you in the event of a delayed flight and should fully comply with them. It includes the provision of:
- The right to know why the flight is delayed and when you are excluded from take-off.
- Food and drinks.
- Access to calls and emails.
- Accommodation if you are late overnight – and travel between the airport and the hotel
When is the best time to claim my compensation?
Report a claim for damages as soon as possible. If possible, contact the carrier on the same day of the delay. The sooner the better.
How far back can I claim for delayed flights?
The EU countries have different rules on how far compensation can be claimed, as the regulation does not provide for an EU-wide limitation period.
The period within which you can claim compensation depending on the origin of the airline is as follows:
- 1 year – Belgium and Poland
- two years – Croatia, Iceland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland
- two years 4 months – Italy
- 3 years – Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Sweden
- 5 years – Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain, Scotland
- 6 years – Cyprus, Ireland, United Kingdom (except Scotland)
- ten years – Luxembourg
- No limit – Malta
Can the airline refuse my entitlement to flight compensation?
Yes, the airline can decline your claim. Especially if the flight is delayed due to exceptional circumstances. If you believe that your application was unjustly rejected, you can proceed with one of the procedures outlined above.
Can I get a flight delay allowance for my baby?
It depends on whether. The EU regulation clearly stipulates that all passengers are entitled to compensation if the flight is more than three hours late. However, it is also stated that passengers traveling for free are not entitled to claim such compensation.
Since some airlines allow parents to bring babies for free, you can not claim compensation for your baby in this case. If you have paid for the child seat, you can request compensation even if it was a reduced rate.
My flight was on time but we reached the destination more than 3 hours late. Is this a flight delay?
Yes, this is classified as a flight delay. According to the EU, the calculation of the delay should take into account the time when the destination country was reached.
We left the country of departure 3 hours late, but arrived at the destination less than 3 hours late. Can I ask for compensation?
You can not claim compensation if you have reached the destination country less than three hours late, even if you have left the departure country more than three hours late. Note that it depends on the arrival time and not on the departure.
Some airlines always spend a few minutes more time than they need to calculate their arrival time. Therefore, it makes sense that you can leave late, but in many cases arrive on time.
My carrier has classified me in a lower class than the one for which the ticket was purchased. Am I entitled to compensation?
Yes, that's you. Within seven days the airline is obliged to reimburse you 30% of the ticket price for all flights of 1500 km or less.
50% of the ticket price should be reimbursed for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometers. Excluded are flights between the European territory of the Member States and the French overseas departments, as 75% of the ticket price should be reimbursed for such flights.
In addition, 75% of the ticket price should be reimbursed for all flights that do not fall under the first two cases.
Do I have any rights if I miss a connecting flight?
Yes, if you miss a connecting flight as part of a single reservation due to a delay of 3 or more hours, you can request a financial compensation.
We were traveling as a group and our flight was delayed. Should we ask for compensation for all or one for each member?
You should ask for compensation for each member of the group.
Tips for passengers with delayed flights (EU-regulated)
If you are waiting for your flight and the flight crew informs you that the flight may be delayed, you should take immediate care. Even if the delay is only 20 minutes or less, it is always better to be alert.
Here are some ultimate tips for passengers with delayed flights, which are regulated in EU passenger rights:
- Ask the airline staff about the reason for the delay and make a note of it, You have the right to know why the delay is taking place.
- Keep an eye on the timeand how long your flight is delayed.
- Ask the airline to respect your right to care,
- Ask for food and drinks,
- Ask for accommodation If you are told you will be delayed overnight. You can also stay at the airport if you wish.
- Ask for a taxi to take you to your accommodation.
- Ask how long the delay can take. If you learn that the wait will soon be over, and you are not, ask again. The EU Passenger Regulation grants you the right to be informed in such cases. Remind the airline staff about it.
- Make a note of the time when your flight starts,
- Record the arrival time at your final destination,
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