Flight Disruptions in the EU: Our Advice
Covered in the Article
Flight cancellations and delays happen every now and then. Disruptions may be caused by an airline or by another factor. If the delay or the cancellation is under the control of the airline, you may be entitled to the EU flight compensation. If the event is caused by extraordinary circumstances, you can't get extra compensation but the airline is still responsible to take you to the destination and while waiting, taking care of you. The rules apply to intra-EU flights and some flights originating or arriving in the EU.
In addition to delays and cancellations, denied boarding, flight schedule changes before the flight or involuntary removals from the flight may lead to a right to a compensation. Get familiar with air passenger rights before travelling.
Air Passenger Rights
The rules state an airline must take care of you when an incident happens. If you have a long waiting time at an airport after the scheduled departure, you have a right to get some complimentary food or snacks from a restaurant selected by the airline. If unexpected waiting happens during the night, you have a right to get free accommodation and transportation to the hotel and back. Dinners, lunches and breakfast must be included. Remember that these rights don't apply if you just have booked a flight with a bad schedule or long connection times.
When the disruption is caused by the airline, you have may have a right to monetary compensation from 250 to 400 euros in addition to other mandatory expenses. Technical failures are typically under the control of the airline so they lead to compensation. Unusual technical faults are excluded. For example, if a ground transportation vehicle hits a wing of the aircraft, the airline is not liable to pay monetary compensation.
Typically, monetary compensation is not paid at the airport but you must apply for it later.
Advice for Delays and Cancellations
- Know your passenger's rights before the flight.
- If the cancellation or the schedule change happens already weeks before the travel dates, you have fewer rights. The most important thing is to contact the airline and negotiate. For example, you can ask for re-routing or postpone the flight.
- If the unfortunate event happens when you are already travelling, negotiate immediately with the airline for the best solution. Remember that you have a right to reach the destination. If there is long waiting included, the airline must take care of you. Ground staff at the airports are often unable to help much so it may be better to call the airline directly. Make notes with exact timestamps of what has happened and what the airline promised. It is also good to write down what was the reason for the delay or cancellation.
- After you have reached the destination, make a compensation claim for extra costs. Write down the exact time of the arrival at the gate of the destination airport. In many cases, you have a right to monetary compensation. File a claim as soon as possible while you still remember the timeline of the events. The monetary compensation will not be paid if the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances.
- If the delay is long enough, you have also a right to cancel the rest of your journey and ask the airline to take you back to the origin free of charge. The unused flights must be refunded.
- Be patient and behave well.
Applying for Compensation
Applying for a flight delay compensation according to the EU261 regulation may be a time-consuming process. Every time the event has been under the control of the airline, we suggest you file a claim. By making it yourself, you will get the compensation all by yourself. Claims can usually be made on the airline's website. You may make the claim in English.
In the application, stick to facts and forger emotions.
Sometimes you may be too busy or the claiming process seems to be much complicated. Then we suggest using a 3rd party company like AirHelp. They will handle all the processes on your behalf of you. If they fail to get the compensation from the airline, you don't pay any service free. If they succeed, they will take a part of your compensation. Hence, avoiding the agony of filing for your compensation and some stress related to waiting time.
Getting the EU261 monetary compensation for a delayed flight is not an easy task. It may take time and require a lot of effort from you. You must understand how to process goes. However, we always recommend trying your luck when you feel you have a right to be compensated.
Write the application carefully and concentrate on the facts. It may take many weeks, or even months, for the airline to respond. Almost always, the airline will reject your application by using a bad excuse. Don't give up but continue the process.
We recommend applying for compensation yourself if you feel that you are entitled to them. It is a passenger's right and the airlines included the compensation costs to ticket prices. Expect the process to be slow and sometimes also complicated. Patience is often rewarded.
Have you experienced delays or cancellations? Comment below!