Planes are one of the main kinds of travelling vehicles and thousands of people have flights every day. However, it is quite common situation when the planned flights are canceled or delayed due to bad weather conditions, some fault of airlines, or other reasons. What rights does the passenger have in this case?
Delayed by Three Hours or More
All flights which arrive from or are operated by an EU air carrier are subject to Community Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. It provides that a flight is considered canceled when it does not take place and passengers are transferred to other flights or the flight is started but redirected to or from another airport. Delays in arrival at the final destination of more than three hours give passengers the same rights as if the flight was canceled. When a flight is canceled, the passenger has the right to choose between three alternatives.
As soon as possible, the passenger shall be entitled to another flight or flights to the final destination under similar conditions. When the trip no longer makes sense, the passenger can choose or get a refund for the tickets and get the flight to the first point of departure. It may also receive a flight on another route under similar conditions at another time convenient to the passenger, if seats are available, or fly at another convenient time.
It is important to know that passengers must be provided with free food and fresh drinks, two free telephone calls or emails while waiting for another flight instead of a canceled one. And if the flight is scheduled for the next day, the passenger must be provided with accommodation and free transport to and from the accommodation.
In some cases, passengers are entitled to monetary compensation. Compensation is payable in the event when a flight to the final destination being delayed or the passenger not being offered a flight. It should be noted that even if the flight is delayed but reaches its final destination later than 3 hours, passengers are entitled to the same compensation as if the flight was canceled.
However, there are a few exceptions when compensation is not paid. They usually involve so-called force majeure when the airlines could not foresee or protect themselves from the special situation. Such situations may arise due to political instability, meteorological conditions, security threats, strikes.
In all cases where the flight does not take place as intended, the airline should provide the necessary assistance to the passengers. However, in the event of force majeure, the monetary compensation provided for in 261/2004, does not belong to passengers. Compensation is also not payable if the passenger has been notified of the canceled flight one to two weeks before the flight and has been offered a similar flight. The times of such a flight must be slightly different from the original: departure is allowed up to 2 hours earlier and arrival no later than 4 hours later. Alternative flight times must be even less different if passengers have been notified less than a week in advance.