The last thing you want to ruin your holiday experience is to deal with some sort of flight disruption. These disruptions are rarely welcome because they eat into precious holiday time or cause havoc if arrangements have been made for the return home.
So why is it so hard to get compensation from airlines?
The numbers above give you an idea of the scale of disruptions that occur with flights, so it’s little wonder why airlines try to openly contest the EC261 ruling and even refuse to pay after the EUCJ orders them to do so.
The cost of dealing with disrupted flights will keep on mounting up however with an expected $39.4 billion in profit for airlines in 2016 it’s safe to say greater customer service needs to be utilised especially when the customer service side of travel lags behind other advancements in the sector.
So what you didn’t want to happen, happens – you get dealt a disrupted flight. So what now? These are 4 things that you need to know.
How much am I owed when my flight is delayed?
The maximum compensation for a disrupted flight that you can get is 600 Euros, this figure is determined by a number of factors which can be seen in the table below.
Distance, length of disruption and if the disruption was a delay, cancellation or overbooking all determine how much you are owed.
Whilst disrupted flights can provide some compensation, airlines are also required to provide customer care during the delay which includes:
- Food and drinks
- Arranging a temporary place to stay if your flight is on a different day and transport to the accommodation
It’s important to remember that if your flight is cancelled (or you’re offered an alternative route around the same departure time) and you’re notified 14 days or more prior to the scheduled flight then there will be no compensation entitlement.
Does the country matter?
The EC261 Regulation covers passengers entering the EU with an EU based airline regardless if you’re EU Citizen or not. So if your flight is departing the US and arriving (or departing) in the EU and as long as the airline is EU based then you’re covered.
What if flights were delayed due to extraordinary circumstances?
According to EC261, airlines do not have to provide compensation for disrupted flights if they fall within the ‘Extraordinary Circumstances’ definition. Regardless of the circumstances, airlines are still required to provide one of the following:
- a ticket refund (in full or for the part you couldn’t use)
- the soonest possible alternative transport to your final destination
- a new ticket for the later date of your preference, subject to seat availability
Often airlines will try to deem the majority of disruptions as ‘extraordinary’ however it’s encouraged that you keep challenging because they are only let off if the weather conditions are extremely unsafe, if employees are on strike or if there is civil unrest.
Connecting flights are generally the same as direct flights, except for one key difference:
As connecting flights involve multiple flights and airlines, as well as stops inside and outside of the EU, your eligibility for compensation changes.
Whether you’re on a direct or connecting flight, your eligibility for compensation under EC 261/2004 requires that your starting place or final destination be located in the EU.
Additionally, for connecting flights, your eligibility for compensation due to delay, cancellation, or overbooking depends on the total delay en route to your final destination.*
*The term “final destination” applies to the final destination of your flights with one airline. If your connecting flight is with a different airline, than that flight is perceived as being separate. In that case, each individual flight has its own origin and final destination to which these laws apply.
The above provides a snapshot of information to explain the EC261 Regulation however it being a legal ruling that covers a large Geography, it can get a little bit complicated. You can find more information on knowing your rights here.