Monday, June 3, 2019

Your Rights in Case of Flight Delay

Consideration was given for the editing and publication of this post.

You’re at the airport, ready for a well-deserved holiday or crucial business meeting and you see the dreaded word on the departure board: delayed.  You have that sinking feeling as the delay gets extended by the hour and the realisation hits - your trip may be well and truly ruined.  When you have a connecting flight, the knock-on effects can be disastrous.
Air travel is already stressful; add a delayed flight to the journey and any passenger will be understandably frustrated by the situation.  It’s difficult to know who to turn to and what rights that you, as a passenger, are entitled to – when you do finally find someone to help you, the information is confusing or limited.
What Constitutes a Flight Delay?
Generally speaking, if your flight is delayed for 3 hours or more, you will be entitled to compensation.  However, this of course is heavily dependent on what is accepted as the official time of arrival and this is where the devil is in the detail.  Because this is subject to interpretation – has the plane arrived when it touches down on the tarmac or is it when passengers enter the airport? – the law now states that the arrival time is when at least one aircraft door is open, and passengers can exit the plane.
Can I Get Compensation?
When calculating whether you have a claim, the delay of your flight is not the only factor.  You now need to note the route of your delayed flight, the airline you are flying with and the distance of your flight.
If your flight is within the EU, or you’re flying from an EU country to a non-EU country, you are entitled to compensation, regardless of where your airline is headquartered.  However, if you are flying into the EU from a non-EU country, your flight must be headquartered in the EU for you to receive compensation.
Depending on the distance of your flight, you can claim up to €600 (approx. £540) in compensation.  With the help of MYFLYRIGHT you can easily check if you have a claim and how much compensation you can expect to receive from the airline.
Airline Obligations
Depending on how long your flight is delayed, the airline must provide you with additional services. These include two free phone calls or emails, meals and refreshments.  If your flight is delayed more than 5 hours, you should receive accommodation and transport to and from your accommodation free of charge.
When you miss a connecting flight, providing it is part of the same booking as the delayed flight, the airline must offer an alternative flight– most commonly the next available flight to your destination.  It is within your rights as a passenger to refuse this alternative, in which case you can receive a refund for the missed connecting flight. If you choose this route, you can purchase a flight yourself and the airline must reimburse the price difference.
The above services and alternative flights are completely separate from the financial compensation you can claim when your flight is delayed.  Meaning, when you arrive more than 3 hours late to your destination, you are entitled to financial compensation as well as the alternative flight and additional services. Often passengers are unaware of this and miss out on what they are entitled to by law.
EU Passenger Rights
EU regulations are in place to ensure passengers are protected in the event of a flight delay.  Moreover, there is no need to panic at the airport as rest assured you have time to pursue your case – in the U.K., from the date of your flight delay you have 6 years to claim compensation.  Be sure to document everything as much as possible with receipts, timestamped photos of departure and arrival boards, plus any other evidential papers to increase your chances of success.  Be prepared, know your rights and you can pursue your claim for compensation with minimal stress.

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