By Geirþrúður Alfreðsdóttir.
You have rights in case things go wrong when flying. This concerns delays, cancellations and overbooking that prevent you from boarding …
… and applies if you are:
- departing from any airport situated in the EU, or
- arriving in the EU with an EU carrier or one from Iceland, Norway or Switzerland.
Refund or alternative transport
If you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled or overbooked, you are entitled to either:
- transport to your final destination using comparable alternative means, or
- having your ticket refunded and, where relevant, being returned free of charge to your initial departure point.
Long delays – if your flight is delayed by 5 hours or more, you are also entitled to a refund (But if you accept a refund, the airline does not have to provide any further onward travel or assistance).
Your airline must inform you about your rights and the reason for being denied boarding, or any cancellations or long delays (over 2 hours, although this may be up to 4 hours for flights in excess of 3500 Km).
Food and board
You may also be entitled to refreshments, meals, communications (such as a free phone call), and, if necessary, overnight stay, depending on the flight distance and length of delay.
In addition, if you are denied boarding, your flight is cancelled or arrives more than 3 hours late on arrival at the final destination stated on your ticket, you may be entitled to compensation of €250 – 600, depending on the distance of the flight:
Within the EU
1,500 km or less – €250
over 1,500 km – €400
Between EU airport and non-EU airport
1,500 km or less – €250
1,500 – 3,500 km – €400
over 3,500 km – €600
If the carrier offered you an alternative flight with a similar schedule, the compensation may be reduced by 50%.
With cancelled flights, you won’t receive compensation if:
the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances for example due to bad weather, or
you were informed 2 weeks before the scheduled flight date, or
you were offered an alternative for the same route with a similar schedule to the original one.
For cancellation due to extraordinary circumstances you may not have the right to compensation, the carrier must still offer you either:
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).
Even in extraordinary circumstances, airlines must provide assistance when necessary, while you are waiting for alternative transport.
Geirþrúður Alfreðsdóttir is a captain and a mechanical engineer.