News Details

Air travel rights for EU citizens

12 October 2017

 

Article written by Duncan Barry – Media and Information Executive, MEUSAC

Published on The Malta Independent – 12.10.17

 

If your flight is delayed or arrives later than scheduled, there’s a scale of compensation.

 

“A set of common rules have been drawn up in an effort to ensure that passengers receive at least a minimum level of assistance and protection irrespective of the mode of transport used”

 

The single market for air transport in the European Union has greatly benefited passengers: they now enjoy lower fares and a wider choice of carriers and services than in the past. However, liberalisation is not enough. Other measures are needed to protect passengers' interests and ensure that they fully benefit from the single market.

 

Last month, an airline operating between European cities cancelled hundreds of flights. When occurrences such as this happen, it is important to know what your rights as a European citizen are. Your rights also extend to cases where a flight you have booked is either overbooked or delayed.

 

A set of common rules have been drawn up in an effort to ensure that passengers receive at least a minimum  level of assistance and protection irrespective of the mode of transport used, and, in particular, to protect more vulnerable travellers. The rules also provide for compensation schemes.

 

There’s quite a mouthful of rights.

 

For instance, passengers who cannot board a plane due to an overbooking must be offered assistance, which includes a meal, telephone calls and accommodation if necessary, the choice between either being reimbursed within seven days (and, if necessary, a free flight to the initial point of departure), or being re-routed or continuing their journey as soon as possible, or at a mutually agreed later date, and an immediate predetermined sum in compensation as follows:

 

Flights ≤ 1,500 km

Flights 1,5003,500km

Flights EU ≥ 1,500 km

Flights ≥ 3,500

€250 (€125 if rerouted and arriving less than two hours late)

€400 (€200 if rerouted and arriving less than three hours late)

€600 (€300 if rerouted and arriving less than four hours late)

 

In the case of cancellations, customers must be given assistance (meal, telephone calls and accommodation, if necessary), a choice between being reimbursed within seven days (and, if necessary, a free flight to the initial point of departure), or being rerouted or continuing their journey as soon as possible, or at a mutually agreed later date.

 

Immediate compensation, as in the case of denied boarding, should also be offered to the passenger unless the passenger was notified in advance of the flight’s cancellation or extraordinary circumstances.

 

In the case of delays of at least two hours for flights of 1,500 km or less, at least three hours for flights of between 1,500 and 3,500 km and intra-EU flights of more than 1,500 km, and at least four hours for flights over 3,500 km, the following assistance should be provided: a meal, telephone calls and accommodation, if necessary.  In the event of a delay longer than three hours, passengers should be offered reimbursement within seven days (and, if necessary, a free flight to the initial point of departure) and compensation as in the event of cancellation.

 

Earlier this year, the European Commission also published new information explaining to all travellers the role of claim agencies (business offering to claim compensation for disrupted travel on behalf of the passenger) for air passenger rights. It is pertinent that passengers should always try to contact the airline first before considering any other action. In addition, National Enforcement Bodies, which are public authorities responsible for the enforcement of passenger rights rules at national level, exist in all Member States. They can be contacted freely and can provide all necessary information.

 

One may visit the following sites for further information:

https://tinyurl.com/ybtbkyep

https://tinyurl.com/y78jkwh8

https://tinyurl.com/y9t9sz8a