Cancelled flights can be a real hassle and cost you and your family a lot of money. Not only do they mean you have to shell out for an extra flight tickets, but they often also cut into your precious holiday time as well.
Thanks to EU rule 261/2004, it’s now a lot easier for passengers to claim compensation for flight cancellation from companies operating in the EU-regulated airspace. Here are some of the conditions under which you may be able to make a claim.
Rule #1: Your Flight Must Be “EU-Regulated”
EU-regulated flights fall into two distinct categories. The first is where a flight departs from an EU airline, regardless of who the operator is. This means that an American Airlines flight from Gatwick is covered by the regulations, even though American Airlines is not an EU company. The second category is all EU airline flights that land at airports in the EU, as well as those in Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. In other words, a Ryanair flight that landed in Athens is covered by the EU flight compensation rule, but an American Airlines flight that arrived in Paris is not.
Rule #2: You Can Only Claim Back To 2011
Thanks to something called a “statute of limitations” it is usually only possible to make a compensation claim on a delayed flight if it happened in the last six years. The reason for this is because courts cannot force airlines to cough up once they are outside of the six year period.
In practice, this means that it is unlikely you’ll be successful making a cancelled flight claim from 2007. You’re still welcome to try but airlines are not obliged to pay up.
Rule #3: You’re Entitled To A Refund, Regardless Of Why The Flight Was Cancelled
If your flight is delayed, you can only claim if it was the airline’s fault. This means that if a volcano erupts, the airline doesn’t have to offer compensation for failing to get you to your destination on time, according to flight delay compensation rules. However, if your flight is cancelled less than two weeks before you’re due to depart, you can claim a full refund, no matter the reason for the airline cancellation.
Airlines usually offer stranded passengers one of two options. Either they issue a full refund, or they will “re-route” you to your destination. Re-routing means that the airline will put you on a different flight which can involve taking a slightly different route.
Rule #4: You Must Prove The Airline Is At Fault For Additional Compensation
Getting a refund or being rerouted isn’t the same as getting flight compensation. In order to get compensation, you need to prove that the airline was at fault, just as you have to do if you’re making a claim for a delayed flight. Flight cancellation compensation ranges from £110 (€125) to £520 (€600) depending on the arrival time of the next flight. The later the arrival time, the more compensation you’ll be awarded.
If your flight is cancelled and there are no alternatives, or if you’ve been re-routed, you’re still able to claim flight delay compensation for the inconvenience.
Rule #5: What You Get Paid Depends On A Formula
How much you get paid in compensation varies according to a carefully calculated formula. If your flight is cancelled more than two weeks before you are due to depart, you are not entitled to compensation under the EU rules. If, however, your flight is cancelled less than two weeks before departure, then you are entitled to compensation.
The compensation you receive depends on three factors.
- How long before your departure your flight was cancelled.
- The length of your trip.
- The difference between your scheduled arrival time on your cancelled flight and the actual time you arrive on your rerouted flight.
The longer the distance of the cancelled flight and the greater the difference between your scheduled arrival time and your actual arrival time, the greater the compensation paid. The window of time airlines have to deliver you to your destination to avoid paying the full compensation rate is smaller for cancellations made less than one week before departure than for cancellations made one to two weeks before departure.
Rule #6: If You’re Bumped Off A Flight, You Are Entitled To Compensation
Airlines regularly overbook aircraft because they know that not everybody who has booked a flight will show up on time at the airport. As a result, it makes sense for them to over-book and take the risk that they won’t have enough seats. Sometimes, too many people show up for a flight, meaning that some passengers have to take the next flight.
If you were forced off a flight and put on the next one, you’re entitled to compensation, just as you would be if your flight was cancelled. Overbooking is the airline’s fault, meaning that your case is likely to be successful.
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