People nowadays constantly travel for several reasons (i.e. pleasure, business and etc.) but the majority of them are without being aware of their rights.
More specifically, air passengers very oftenly come across various obstacles due to flight cancellation, flight delays or even trouble on boarding. Another common issue which air passengers frequently face is with the loss of their luggage.
Subsequently, the regulation (EC) nr.261/2004 was created in February 2004 by the European Parliament and Council, in order to tackle to some of the numerous obstacles that air passengers are facing daily. The objective of the said regulation is to equip air passengers with several rights, where appropriate, when there is a flight cancellation, long delay, or on denied boarding.
This particular regulation can only be used by air passengers that are departing from any airport located in European Union, or are arriving in the European Union with an EU airline or one from Iceland, Norway or Switzerland; provided that they present themselves at the check-in desk at the latest time indicated by the airline.
Air passengers’ rights in case of a long delay;
According to Regulation (EC) nr.261/2004, in the event of long delay (two hours or more, depending on the distance of the flight), air passengers are entitled to care such as free of charge meals and drinks (depending on waiting time), hotel accommodation (where a stay of the passenger proves necessary for one or more nights), transport between the airport and accommodation and etc. as stated in Article 9.
In addition, depending on the waiting time and the distance of the flight, passengers may be legally entitled to compensation between 250 and 600 EUR, unless it is proved that the airline is not responsible for the delay and/or they are informed early enough.
* Within the EU
> 1,500 km or less - EUR 250
> over 1,500 km - EUR 400
* Between EU airport and non-EU airport
> 1,500 km or less - EUR 250
> 1,500 - 3,500 km - EUR 400
> over 3,500 km - EUR 600
Last but not least, when the delay lasts five hours or more, a passenger has the right to request reimbursement of their ticket within seven days for the route not used (if they cancel their reservation), or return flight to the first point of departure or transfer to his final destination as stated in the provision of Article 8.
Air passenger’s rights in case of a denied boarding;
Primarily, the airline should look for volunteers who would abandon their airplane seat in return of certain benefits, such as free meal, hotel accommodation and etc. (in case of overbooked flight for instance) before they denied boarding to certain passengers
Nonetheless, the airline may inevitable deny boarding to some passenger against their will if the volunteers’ number is inadequate. These passengers are entitled to care, compensation and reimbursement or re-routing as per the provisions of article 9, 7 and 8 respectively.
Yet, it is important to note that boarding may be denied without any compensation or benefits where for instance there is insufficient travel documentation or the passenger arrived late at the check in desk.
Air passengers’ rights in case of the flight’s cancelation
According to article 5 articles of the above regulations, in case of the flight’s cancelation air passengers (depending on the circumstances) are entitled to various benefits such as right to care, right to compensation as well as right to reimbursement or re-routing as per the provisions of Article 9, 7 and 8.
Regarding the right of compensation under article 7 air passenger where is appropriate shall receive compensation between €250 and € 600, unless they have been informed of the cancellation up to two weeks before, the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances for example as a result of bad weather, or passengers are offered an alternative for the same route with a similar schedule to the original one.
Procedure that air passengers have to follow in order to get their compensation;
* Air passengers have to complete and submit an air passenger rights EU complaint form to their airline
* In the event that air passengers are not pleased with the outcome, they can continue with the submission of a complaint form to the to the national enforcement body in the EU country where the incident
took place, or in case where the incident happened at an airport of departure outside the EU, to the EU point of destination airport.
Lost or damaged registered luggage;
If the recorded luggage of an air passenger is delayed, damaged or lost, he may have a right to compensation up to EUR 1220, from the air operating carrier. This applies to the hand luggage of an air passenger as well as the check-in luggage if the airline is accountable for the damage. Nonetheless, where the damage is due to a defect in the luggage itself, the air passenger will not be entitle to any compensation.
Finally, if an air passenger wants to file a claim, has to do it within seven days of receiving their luggage or twenty-one days if their luggage was delayed.
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Note: The above article does not constitute a legal advice and may not be relied upon for such purposes. Readers are recommended to take appropriate legal advice on the above subject matter.