Are you entitled to flight compensation?

In the wake of the collapse of Thomas Cooke, Nick Cooper, head of market UK, from travel search platform, HolidayPirates clears some of the confusion around flight compensation. 

Over 7.4 million holidaymakers have been hit by flight delays and cancellations so far this year in the UK, and now, with the collapse of Thomas Cook, that number has increased even more.

Significant events, such as the Gatwick and Heathrow drone incidents, the grounding of all Boeing 737 MAX planes, and strikes by pilots from major airlines, have also contributed to the delays and cancellations.

a plane flying through the sky

Earlier this year HolidayPirates conducted a  survey in partnership with Flightright to find out how much travellers actually know about compensation rights.

They surveyed over 6,500 European holidaymakers and found that, though 75 per cent of British holidaymakers believe that they know their rights, in regards to delays, cancellations, and overbooked flights, as well as the obligations owed to them by organisations that they have paid and trusted to deliver an efficient and pleasant travel experience, the reality is very different.

inside of a plane

If passengers don’t want to rely on busy airlines or airports to receive compensation or know what to do next, it is  important for them to understand The Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004, which is a regulation in EU law establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays of flights.

As such, here are HolidayPirates tips on what to keep in mind if flights are delayed, overbooked, or cancelled:

 

You have up to six years to claim compensation

Due to the applicability of the statute of limitations in Northern Ireland, England and Wales, if you decide that you want to drag an airline to the court to get your compensation, you can do so for flight delay claims dating back up to six years. In Scotland, this period is only five years.

 

You're entitled to claim a refund after a delay of three hours or more

If your flight is delayed for more than three hours or if it's cancelled, then the EU rule 261/2004 entitles you to a compensation amount ranging from a minimum of €250, which may clock up to €600.

You can file for flight delay claims if there's a technical problem due to component failures or general wear and tear of aircraft parts, a cancelled flight due to under-booking, or if it is proved that the cause of the delay was the carelessness of the airline company to submit all the necessary documentation in time.

 

plane flies though sky

 

You're entitled to receive food and drinks after a two-hour delay

Your airline must look after you once you've been delayed by more than two hours.

This means they must provide a reasonable amount of food and drink (often provided in the form of vouchers), a means for you to communicate (often by refunding the cost of your calls), accommodation, if you’re delayed overnight (usually in a nearby hotel), and transport to and from the accommodation (or your home, if you are able to return there). 

 

You're not necessarily entitled to compensation if the pilot is sick

Airlines will often argue that the sickness of a crewmember is an "extraordinary circumstance", which it is not, as a member of staff falling ill is a natural element of running an airline.

Unexpected staff illness is inherent in any business that employs human beings for that very reason and therefore does not make it extraordinary.

That being said, the definition of an extraordinary circumstance is decided on by the UK courts who, unlike the rest of Europe, will often rule that crew sickness is an extraordinary circumstance, and therefore passengers will not receive compensation. 

 

plane flies away compensation is due

 

Cancellation should be communicated 14 days before take-off

If you were informed of the flight cancellation less than 14 days prior to departure, you are entitled to a compensatory claim of between €250 and €600 per person, depending on the flight distance and the actual departure time or arrival time of the replacement flight.

If your flight is brought forward, this is considered to be the same as a cancellation and as such you are entitled to claim compensation. 

 

Business trip delay? It's your compensation, not your employer's

If you suffered a flight cancellation while travelling on business you’ll be the one who receives the compensation, not your employer.

Likewise, if you’re travelling as a state official, the EU regulation states that you’ll be the one owed compensation from the airline. It's the individual passenger who endured the inconvenience of the delay who receives the benefit—not the person who paid for the ticket.

This stands no matter the ticket price.

More information can be found at Flight Right and via the EU here

 

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