Was Your Flight Cancelled Today? Here's What You Need To Know About Your Rights
Getting away for a holiday is supposed to be relaxing but unfortunately, it doesn't always go to plan, and Storm Desmond has put a spanner in the works for many.
In the case of something going wrong, it always pays to be aware of your rights and entitlements to make sure you can minimise stress as much as possible.
So, whether your flight has been delayed or your luggage has been damaged, here's what you need to know.
If you're booking online...
In years gone by, comparing flight prices was a bit of a disaster due to hidden charges. These days, it is compulsory that the total price of the ticket (including all compulsory elements such as taxes) is visible from the start, so you can compare prices across airlines and make an informed choice.
The air fare, taxes, airport charges, other charges, surcharges or fees (such as for security or fuel) must all be clearly displayed, with any optional additions clearly indicated.
If you feel an airline is not adhering to these rules, you can report it to the Commission For Aviation Regulation on 01-6611700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your luggage is damaged...
If your checked-in luggage is lost, damaged or delayed, you may be entitled to compensation from your airline, up to the amount of €1,220. The only exception to this is if the damage is caused "by an inherent defect in the baggage itself".
When it comes to hand luggage, the carrier is only liable if it was responsible for the damage and passengers are advised to make sure to file their claim within seven days of receiving their luggage (or 21 days if your luggage was delayed).
If you wish to pursue other legal action, you must do so within two years of the date your luggage arrives.
If you are travelling with expensive items, it is advisable to book private travel insurance prior to your flight. See our top tips here.
If you're not allowed on your flight...
If you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled/overbooked, you are entitled to transport to your destination using alternative means or to have your ticket refunded. Your airline is legally obliged to inform you about your rights, including the reason you have been denied boarding or the details surrounding the cancellations.
Depending on the flight distance and length of delay, you may also be entitled to refreshments, meals, communications (such as a free phone call) and an overnight stay.
If your flight is delayed...
If your flight is delayed for over two hours (up to four hours for some long-haul flights), you are entitled to a refund but by accepting this, you are waiving your right to travel or further assistance. Depending on the circumstances, you may also qualify for the same refreshments/accommodation as mentioned previously.
Am I entitled to compensation?
If you are denied boarding, your flight is cancelled or your flight arrives more than three hours late, you may be entitled to compensation of between €250 to €600.
For flights of 1,500km or less within the EU, passengers are entitled to €250. This rises to €400 for journeys of over €400.
For flights between an EU airport and a non-EU airport, the amounts go from €250 for flights under 1,500km, €400 for those between 1,500 and 3,500 or €600 for flights over 3,500. If the carrier offered you an similar alternative flight, the compensation may be reduced by 50 per cent.
Is this an automatic qualification?
There are some situations in which passengers do not qualify for compensation, such as if the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather. Similarly, if a passenger is notified of the issue two weeks before the flight date or offered an alternative for the same route with a similar schedule, they may not qualify for compensation.
What happens if I am not entitled?
Even if you are not entitled to compensation, the airline must offer assistance and care while you are waiting on alternative transport.
For example, an EU court recently ruled that Ryanair must pay a refund of €1,130 to a customer who was left stranded in Portugal for seven days when her flight was cancelled due to a volcanic ash cloud in 2010. The court ruled that under these "extraordinary circumstances" the airline had a duty of care to the passenger and should cover the cost of her hotel and expenses.
They must also still issue a ticket refund (in full or just the part you have not used), alternative transport to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or rebooking at a later date of your choice (subject to seat availability).
How can I apply for compensation?
You can access the application form here, which should be submitted to your airline. It is also advisable to keep a copy for yourself.