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What Does The Law Say About Flight Delay Compensation?

The law of Flight Delay Compensation Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 is the regulation which talks about the compensation for flight delay. It also provides guidelines to passengers on matters related to long delayed flights, flight cancellations and denied boarding.

Application circumstances

The applicability of compensation for flight delay is the same for all passengers and any one can claim for a flight delay provided:

  • The flight departs from an airport situated within an EU member state and travels to a destination within an EU member state. Alternatively, the concerned airline must have its headquarters in any Eurozone member countries.
  • A passenger can claim for a flight delay only when he/she can prove that he/she had a confirmed reservation on the particular flight. The compensation for a flight delay can be availed only if a passenger can prove his/her timely arrival (as mentioned on the ticket) at the airport. If the time is not mentioned, it will be assumed that the passenger was expected to be at the airport 45 minutes before the flight’s scheduled departure. The compensation for flight delay law is also applicable when a passenger is given a reservation to any other flight.

Compensation for delays

A passenger can expect three categories of compensation after filing a claim for a flight delay , which could be also be offered in case of denied boarding and cancellation.

Cash compensation

It is the payment of cash ranging between €250 and €600 as the compensation amount. In the case where rerouting is offered to the passenger, and he/she arrives at the destination within a specific time period (anywhere between two and four hours of the scheduled arrival) the compensation to be paid is halved. The payment is exclusively a compensation for the convenience of the customer. It does not substitute or form a component of either one of the two categories of compensation. However, if the delay is caused due an ‘extraordinary circumstance’, the airline company is not obligated to offer cash compensation to its passengers. Extraordinary circumstances are those which cannot be prevented by the airlines in spite of taking preventive measures.

Refunding or rerouting

It is offered as per the choice of the passenger, and involves one of following kinds of compensations:

  • The airline repays the cost of the unused flight tickets. It is also applicable for used tickets where a specific flight no longer serves any purpose when compared with the original travel plan of the passenger. It also includes a flight reverting to the original departure point of the passenger at the earliest.
  • Rerouting the passenger to his/her intended final destination as per his/her wish, depending on the seat availability.

Accommodation, refreshments and communication

When passengers are entitled to such assistance, they should be offered it at no extra cost. The refreshments and meals can be given based on their waiting time.  A passenger is also entitled to make two telephone calls, or send emails or fax messages. Airport transfers and hotel accommodations are also to be provided to them.

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