Know Your Rights in the Sky: What EU Airline Travellers Need to Know


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While we all hope our flights will run like clockwork, there are some occasions when things don’t always go to plan. Knowing your rights and what EU laws are in place will help you to understand exactly what you can do and what you’re entitled to if you do experience any problems with your flight.

With EU laws, there are a number of rights granted to passengers travelling into or from the European Union. This includes anyone departing from an EU airport or anyone coming into the EU via an EU airline or one that’s coming from Switzerland, Norway or Iceland.

Here are a few handy things you should know:

Alternative Transport and Refunds

If your flight is overbooked, cancelled or you’re denied boarding, you’re entitled to alternative transportation to your final destination, or a refund on your ticket and a return to your original departure point, if relevant.

Should you find that your flight has been delayed by over four hours, a full refund is also available, but once you’ve accepted it, the airline doesn’t have to provide any further assistance or transportation for you. If you are unsure what your rights are, the airline is obligated to tell you, along with the reasons why there is a delay or cancellation, or why you have been denied boarding.

During delays, you may also be provided with a means for communications like free phone calls, meals and refreshments while you are at the airport. And should the delays be significant, overnight accommodation may be offered, but this will depend on how long the delay is and the distance of the flight.

If you miss a connecting flight and you have a single ticket that covers all aspects of the journey, the airline may have to offer you additional assistance.

Getting Financial Compensation

In some cases, when boarding has been denied, a flight has arrived over 3 hours late, or has been cancelled, additional compensation may be available. The amount will depend on the flight distance and length of delay; and if alternative flights were offered by the airline with similar time schedules, there may be a 50 percent reduction on the compensation amount.

Using a flight claim template letter provided by companies such as Bott & Co Solicitors will help to get this resolved with your airline quickly and efficiently.

When Aren’t You Entitled to Compensation?

Compensation won’t be offered if you were advised two weeks before the flight was scheduled or it was cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances, like poor weather. However, if this is the case, you are still entitled to one of the following: a full ticket refund for all of your journey or just the part of the flight you haven’t used, the option to book a different flight at a later date, if seats are available, or alternative transport to your designated location at the earliest possible time.

Lauren Collins works airside at her local regional airport. She works shifts, often finding herself unable to sleep easily during the daytime and uses her article writing as a form of relaxation to help empty her mind and unwind from the stresses of the day.

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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