Flight travel into and out of Europe is prevalent, particularly during the summer months and the likelihood of delays especially in major hubs is relatively high. What many are not aware of is that European regulations EC 261 entitles you to be financially compensated for your inconvenience, loss, and trouble for a lengthy delay. If an airline approves your claim, the compensation can range from 250 to 600 Euro.
For flights covered by EU law EC 261, any delay that goes longer than three hours entitles you to financial compensation. The amount of your compensation will be based on how long the delay is and the distance your flight is to be.
Delayed Flight Compensation
When the airline sees that your flight has gone well into the allotted time frame for compensation, they will begin to offer compensation in other forms such as flight vouchers. Most passengers unaware of EC 261 or who may be simply exhausted and aggravated may find a voucher good for a new flight difficult to turn down.
In this instance, you need to check with the staff if by taking this voucher, you will be negating the right to file your claim for delayed flight compensation which you are legally entitled to. EU regulations are very clear that delayed flight compensation is to be paid to passengers by way of electronic transfer, check, or cash. That is unless the customer opts to take travel vouchers as an option.
In a majority of instances, the traveler will take the travel vouchers. Surveys have shown that over 80% European air customers are unaware of their rights, and well over 10 million people worldwide are not getting the delayed flight compensation that is due to them according to their legal rights because they don’t know them.
You are entitled to compensation from the airlines if your flight leaves any airline in Europe, but also if the airplane departs outside of Europe and is operated by a European airline.
Travelling For Work
A lot of folks are under the impression that if they are travelling for work, any compensation that is due for a delayed flight will come to their employer but that is not how the compensation works.
According to the law, it is the traveler who has dealt with the inconvenience who is rightfully entitled to the delayed flight compensation, not the one who paid for the flight.
These are the guidelines as they are written in the EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation when there are lengthy delays. Being an acting employee of a public official or a private company doesn’t matter. The compensation is there for the person who experienced the delay.
When Delayed Flight Compensation Does Not Apply
If there are instances of “extraordinary circumstances”, EC 261 regulations indicate that an airline can avoid liability if delays are related to these situations. These instances would include:
- Strikes of lightning
- Medical emergency
- Serious weather conditions
- Air traffic control restriction
- Airline radar suddenly malfunctioning
- Acts of sabotage
- Unrest politically
- Terrorist acts
The European Court of Justice decides what will constitute an “extraordinary circumstance”. If they feel that the airline did not take reasonable measures, e.g. in bad weather, to avoid delays, particularly when flights from other airlines were able to take off on time, passengers will be due compensation. The ECJ does not deem airline strikes as an “extraordinary circumstance” and will compensate travelers if delays are the result of staff strikes.
Missing a Connecting Flight Due to Delayed Flight
Travelers are flying more often these days and further than they ever have, so it isn’t surreal for them to have a few stops or connectors with their flights. If any of the flights are delayed, it can force you to miss a step in your journey and have the whole trip thrown off course for you.
If you find that you’ve missed a connecting flight due to a delayed flight, it is the responsibility of the airline to get you on an alternate flight to your final destination. You will also be entitled under European law to compensation if you reach your final destination three hours after the time that you were supposed to.
In order to receive this compensation, the flights need to have been booked together and all part of the same trip. If you happened to book the trips on your own each separately, that won’t be covered for compensation.
What To Do When Your Flight Is Delayed
When you find that your flight is going to be delayed, the best approach is to stay calm and enjoy the meals and refreshments that the airline is required to provide for you. In addition:
- Keep track of your boarding pass as well as all of your other travel documents.
- Find a staff member who can tell you why the flight was delayed and try to have this written down for your records.
- Collect proof of the delay for the claim, e.g. pictures from the departure board.
- Note the time that you arrive at your destination point and try to find a way to have proof of that time.
- Be sure that you aren’t signing anything or accepting anything that may negate your rights to the delayed flight compensation.
- You have the right to wait it out or you are able to call it off after more than five hours and get at least partial if not full refund for the cost of the original ticket price.
- If you have to wait overnight, have the airline pay for your hotel accommodations as well as travel from the airport to the hotel and back.
- Keep any tickets or receipts from expenses that you incur due to the delayed flight.
- Contact one of the EU flight compensation companies. These companies specialize at fighting for the rights of travelers in case of delayed or cancelled flight. Although they will charge you a fee of about 25% of the compensation, they will ensure that you get the best compensation possible.
Fewer than 2% of European travelers receive the compensation that they are directly entitled to under European law when they are inconveniently delayed in their flights. You have rights when you’re traveling by air and things don’t go as smoothly as you had anticipated. You don’t have to accept the bad consequences. The law is there to protect you. You just need to take advantage of it.