The European skies were… disturbed, to say the least in 2010. Between an uncontrollable volcano, snow storms and strikes, it’s safe to say that it’s easy for travellers get lost in situations like these. What do you do? What kind of compensation are you eligible for? Here is what the EU legislation has to say when you’re faced with extremely delayed flights.
Few travellers know it, but they have rights when it comes to travel. Here are the regulations that airline companies must follow within the European Union air space. They are your rights so it’s essential for travellers to know them as well as for airlines to follow them when your flight has been severely delayed.
The European law 261/2004
Voted in by the European government in 2004, this law (the full version is available online) concerns all travellers, no matter their nationality. Airlines don’t give out money for free, so in many cases it’s up to you to know that yes, you are eligible for a refund, and to ask for it.
1. Who does this apply to? Which airline companies?
- to passengers (all nationalities) on flights departing from an airport located within the boundaries of the European Union, including 27 counties (plus Iceland, Switzerland, Finland)
- to passengers (all nationalities) on flights departing from an airport located outside of the boundaries of the European Union but heading to a destination within the European Union (27 counties, plus Iceland, Switzerland, Finland), if the flight is operated by an airline company registered in the EU.
- Here is a list of the airline companies who are subject to the European law 261/2004 (whether they operate flights to/from the European Union).
2. What are your rights in the case of delays?
- Delayed more than 2 hours on flights less than 1500km in distance
- Delayed 3 or more hours on flights in the European Union more than 1500km in distance
- Delayed 3 or more hours on all flights between 1500 and 3500km in distance
- Delayed 4 or more hours on all flights
>> The airline company is not obligated to offer you a refund or compensation. However, the airline must offer meals and refreshments, two telephone calls and hotel accommodations if they are necessary.
- Delayed more than 5 hours
>> The airline company must offer you a refund for your ticket.
Outside of these rules, airlines do not have any other legal obligations to fulfill concerning delayed flights.
3. What if these obligations are not fulfilled?
- Submit a claim to the airline: contact the customer service department for your airline until you are satisfied. You may also fill out an official complaint form, provided by the EU government.
- If you are not satisfied or nothing is settled within 6 weeks: send a complaint letter using the same form to the governing authority in the country where the delay took place (see list of applicable authorities to contact).
Have you ever experienced a major delay while travelling? Did the airline respect its obligations?