In Europe flying hasn’t been easier. So many great connections with such low fares. The things got even better with the EU law under which you’re eligible for compensation in case of flight delays, cancelled flights or overbooking. For every passenger, these conditions should be more than satisfactory.
When traveling in EU keep in mind that most of the countries in Europe require to have at least 3 months valid passport.
In the US, for example, it’s up to airlines how will they treat their passengers, while waiting for their next flight, in case of a delay or cancelation or if they’ll be kind enough to help them to find another flight or connection. While in EU, under EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation No 261/2004 they are responsible for those passengers with delayed or cancelled flights. If your flight was delayed at least for two hours the airline that you’ve booked your flight has to take care of you in that time. They have to give you food and drink, access to two phone calls or emails.
If you’ve been left waiting at the airport for more than 2 hours after your flight was delayed or canceled the airline is obligated to take care of you. In that period of time, everything that you going to eat, drink, spend on phone calls or emails should be paid by the airline. Additionally, they should assist you if searching for another flight or connections. If the flight you are waiting for was delayed until the next day the airline has to provide you with a hotel room and transport to the hotel. The best advice would be to keep your receipts for anything you spend in that time at the airport.
If you are traveling to Europe and your flight was canceled or delayed for more than 3 hours you are eligible to claim up to 600 euros. This is valid only for flights that originate in Europe, were booked with a European airline or departed from the EU, including Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion Island, Mayotte, Saint-Martin (French Antilles), the Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands as well as Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. It does not include the Faroe Islands, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. But if the delay or cancellation was caused by bad weather, in that case, your loss can only be covered with travel insurance.
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Depending on your flight distance and hours of delay or if your flight was overbooked you can claim for a compensation of up to 600 euros. If your flight was delayed at your departure you’ll have a right to reimbursement and return flight too. But, if you arrived at the destination with a delay of 3 hours or more you’re eligible for compensation from 250 to 600 euros.
If the flight is delayed for 5 hours or more you don’t have to take the flight at all, in which case the airline company should give you a full refund of the ticket.
When a flight is being canceled you have a right to a full refund, including return flights or a replacement flight to your destination. When that happens the airline needs to inform you as soon as possible. If the airline has informed you about the cancelation of your flight 14 days or less before the departure you can claim for compensation that can range from 125 to 600 euros. The amount depends on the flight distance and length or schedule.
If your expenses for food, phone and email weren’t covered by the airline while you were waiting at the airport, but you managed to keep all of the bills and receipts then you can claim them later from the airline. Just don’t get spoiled in luxury since these expenses should be at reasonable prices if you want to be compensated by the airline.
This law is applicable to any passenger regardless who paid for the ticket, the company, government or if it was a part of a tour package. The person that’s flying might be eligible for compensation if some of the above-mentioned circumstances for that occur.
Airline companies usually will offer you a voucher. If that happens, think again, because most of the time, their offer would be at an amount that’s lower than what you’re entitled to. They are simply hoping that passengers don’t know their rights well and what are they eligible for, or how much can they, in fact, ask for. Unfortunately, most of the time people do accept their offers and turns out that the airlines are right.
The flight was overbooked and I was ”bumped”
Have you ever asked yourself how do airlines keep track of all those deals, last minute cancelation of the tickets, flexible tickets, refundable, non-refundable ???
Well, although there are algorithms, mathematics and certain psychology that come on the scene they actually don’t know but take the risk of getting overbooked or being canceled in case they didn’t succeed to book enough seats. Most airlines overbook their flights to a certain limit in order to compensate for the passengers that won’t show and that’s legal of course.
So, what do they do when they get overbooked?! Someone gets ”bumped”. But, when you do become one bumped person you should know that in the US, for example, you are eligible for a claim up to 1,350 US dollars. This may happen and it’s quite possible but only if the airline company doesn’t succeed to find you another flight that won’t exceed an hour of delay.
When a domestic flight in the US is being oversold, some of the passengers have to be left behind. The fact is that probably every flight has passengers that aren’t in a much of a hurry of catching on some important business meeting and have a more flexible schedule for their travel that those few hours of a delay won’t make any difference to them. And that is a big advantage that an airline can have in a situation like that.
The airlines first would look for the passengers that would be kind enough to give up their seats and take another flight for which of course they won’t have to pay for the ticket. That’s why sometimes when you check-in you might be asked by the airline if you’d voluntarily want to give up your seat or flight ticket in of exchange for compensation and a ticket for another later flight.
Before you agree though as a passenger you should ask if they will cover your meals, phone calls, emails, accommodation and transport to the hotel (when necessary with overnight flights) while waiting for the other flight because in the US they are not obligated to that and it’s up to that specific airline company how will they treat you and if they’ll pay you or not. Another option would be to sell back your ticket to the airline for the lowest price.
That was easy, now what happens when there aren’t enough volunteers and someone is unwillingly forced to miss out the flight? If you’re that person, for example, the airline is obligated to give you a written statement explaining the reasons how did they make their decision.
As I’ve said before if the airline doesn’t find enough passengers that would voluntarily give up their tickets someone gets bumped. And if that someone is lucky enough to be you, you may claim for up to 1,350 US dollars in the US. How do you get this lucky number? The amount depends on the price of the ticket and the length of the delay. According to the US Department of Transport, the maximum amount you can get is 400% of your one-way fare, but no more than 1,350 US dollars.
If your other flight arrives two hours in domestic flight and four in international flights later, after your original arrival time, you may get close enough to that amount. But, if the airline succeeds to arrange for your arrival to be no more than an hour of delay, or after your original arrival time, you won’t be eligible for a claim.
How do you know you’re eligible for a claim and how to apply for one?
If you don’t have travel insurance you can claim directly from the airline for your compensations. You should contact the airline, give your flight details, such as flight number, date, time, route, airline reference, number of passengers on the booking, and details for the expenses while you were waiting on the airport, like the copies of receipts of the food and drink. When you write your claim include what is the reason for the claim, what went wrong with your flight and what do you ask from the airline. In meantime keep all emails and conversation with the airline, take notes of anything you’ve talked about with the airline’s employees what did they tell you and so on. If you are not satisfied with the reply from the airline on your claim you can use them later when you take your claim further.
If this sounds too complicated and you don’t wanna bother much there is a very easy way to do it. Actually, there are experts in the field, for air passengers rights that will do that for you. On their websites, they offer free calculators that will help you to determine if your flight delay or the canceled one is eligible for a claim and for how much. So, if your flight was delayed or canceled you just have to enter your flight details, a flight number into the calculator on websites such as RefundMyTicket or EUclaim and you’ll get a response if you are eligible for compensation or not and for which amount. And there’s more to it. Actually, if you want to they can even proceed with your claim and charge you a percentage of what you’re owed. In other words, they’ll do it for free if you aren’t paid by the airline company for what you claimed for. They will charge you a service fee only if you get your money from the airline.
What do you mean a non-refundable ticket?
Finally, we should all cope with that, that there will be times when you won’t be eligible for a refund, like when you buy a non-refundable ticket which means exactly that, except for some exceptions that no one wants to be the reason for a refund, such as the death in the closest family. In such a case, some airlines will give you a full refund. US Department of Transport requires airlines to make a full refund on non-refundable paid tickets too in case they were canceled within 24 hours after their purchase, but only when you made that purchase in more than 7 days before your flight.
Otherwise, if you cancel your flight with this ticket you won’t see your money back. That’s why the refundable ones may cost way more, because of the risk you’re taking with the non-refundable ones of cancelation for any other important enough reason that may suddenly occur in your life. When that happens you can buy yourself another ticket when you want to fly to the same destination which in some cases it might be a better option since it will cost you less than making changes to the ticket, like the dates, for which you’ll have to pay additional fees. So, do your math and make the right decision for you.