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Your Rights: Can You Claim Compensation for A Flight Delay

Welcome to our first feature in our ongoing blog series titled ‘Your Rights’ where we inform you of your legal rights as a consumer.

In October 2012 the European Court of Justice ruled that passengers were entitled to compensation for cancelled or overbooked flights and delays over 3 hours.

To be covered, your flight must be either:

• Arriving at a European airport and operated by a European airline
• Departing from a European airport and operated by any airline (European airports include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland)

If your flight is delayed for more than 2 hours, you are legally entitled to:

• Meals and refreshments
• 2 free telephone calls or emails
• Accommodation if you’re delayed overnight
• Transport between the accommodation and airport

If your flight is delayed for over 3 hours:

• All of the above plus:
• Entitlement to compensation if the delay is the airline’s responsibility

Examples of delays that are the airline’s responsibility:

• The flight is overbooked
• The flight is cancelled because of too few bookings
• Mechanical fault
• Staffing issues

Examples of delays beyond the airline’s control:

• Extreme weather (snow, hurricanes, tornadoes etc)
• Major incidents (e.g. earthquake, volcanic eruptions, fire, flood, terrorist attacks/alerts, viral outbreak)
• Strikes
• Closure of the airport
• Government advice not to fly

Claim compensation:

Compensation depends on the length of the delay and the flight distance up to 600 Euros.

For a full list of compensation rates please see www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/holiday-cancellations-and-compensation/if-your-flights-delayed-or-cancelled

Should your flight be delayed for over 5 hours it doesn’t matter whose responsibility the delay is

If you DON’T take the flight you are legally entitled to:

• Meals and refreshments
• 2 free telephone calls or emails
• Accommodation if you’re delayed overnight
• Transport between the accommodation and airport
• A full refund for the flight
• A full refund for missed connecting or return flights
• If you are part way through a journey, the option of returning to your original departure airport.

If you DO take the flight you are legally entitled to:

• All of the above including:
• Entitlement to compensation if the delay is the airlines responsibility

If the flight is cancelled you have the legal right to either:

• The same as if your flight is delayed more than 2 hours
• A replacement flight to your booked destination
• You are entitled to compensation if you would be delayed for more than 2 hours by the offered replacement flight and is the airlines responsibility
OR
• A full refund including connecting or return flights

What you cannot claim for:

Unreasonable expenses such as booking into a hotel of your own choosing, expensive meals and drinks, telephone calls and entertainment.

It is also very unlikely for the airline to pay for the added expense of you abandoning your flight and making your own arrangements to get home.

Making a claim:

Contact the customer services department of the airline who actually operated the flight. Have all your flight details and booking reference numbers to hand. Make detailed notes of your conversation.

Write to them outlining what went wrong and what you are claiming. The Civil Aviation Authority website www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/Resolving-travel-problems has information on how to write a claims letter or alternatively you can download a letter template from Which website www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/letter/letter-to-request-compensation-for-cancelled-flights Remember to only include copies (not originals) of your tickets and expense receipts (keeping a copy of your claim for your records).

If you don’t feel you are getting the compensation you are entitled to:

You can take your issue up with Civil Aviation Authority.

(To download or read articles 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 of the Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 which appertain to this article go to www.flight-delayed.co.uk/regulation-ec-no-2612004 )

Travel Insurance:

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