Your Air Passenger Rights

Overview of the rules set out in the EU-Regulation No. 261/2004.

 

Regulation on Air Passenger Rights

 

You were denied boarding the aeroplane? Your flight was delayed for a couple of hours or even cancelled? Since 2005 the EC Regulation 261/2004 stipulates your rights as a passenger in these situations.

The Regulation applies to passengers booked on flights

  • departing from airports within the EU, Iceland and Norway
    as well as those
  • booked on flights from a third country into the EU, Iceland and Norway if operated by an EU-carrier or one from Norway or Iceland.
  • There are different legal opinions whether the regulation is applicable regarding Switzerland.

 

Denied boarding

 

If you were at the check-in counter on time, having valid travel documents (ticket, passport, visa) with you and were still denied boarding (e.g. due to an overbooking) you are entitled to

  • re-routing as soon as possible or reimbursement of the ticket price
  • assistance, such as food and refreshments, a hotel room if necessary, transport between hotel and airport, two free phone calls/faxes/e-mails
  • payment of compensation between € 125,- and € 600,-

In order to evaluate the amount of compensation due, it is necessary to check the distance of the flight.

 

In general the compensation is

  • € 250,- for flights up to 1.500km
  • € 400,- for longer flights within the EU and other flights between 1.500km and 3.500km
  • € 600,- for flights longer than 3.500km outside the EU

In case the arrival of the flight is not delayed more than two, three or four hours just half the amount is due.

 

 

Cancellation

 

In case your booked flight was cancelled you again have the right to

  • re-routing or reimbursement of the ticket price
  • assistance, such as food and refreshments, a hotel room if necessary, transport between hotel and airport, two free phone calls/faxes/e-mails
  • payment of compensation unless the reason for the cancellation was an extraordinary circumstance or you have been informed early enough.

In order to evaluate the amount of compensation due, it is necessary to check how long in advance you have been informed about the cancellation. In case an alternative flight was offered, one has to check how many hours the take-off would be earlier and the landing would be later.

 

In general the compensation is

  • € 250,- for flights up to 1.500km
  • € 400,- for longer flights within the EU and other flights between 1.500km and 3.500km
  • € 600,- for flights longer than 3.500km outside the EU

In case the arrival of the flight isn’t delayed more than two, three or four hours just half the amount is due.

 

You are not entitled to a payment of compensation if you were informed about the cancellation

  • at least two weeks in advance,
  • between 13 and seven days ahead and got an offer for an alternative flight where the departure time isn’t accelerated more than two hours as well as the arrival time isn’t postponed more than four hours,
  • less than seven days prior to departure but with the alternative flight you will not depart more than one hour earlier and will not arrive more than two hours later.

Cancellation due to extraordinary circumstances

 

If the flight cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances and the airline could not have avoided the cancellation by taking all feasible measures no payment of compensation is due.

 

Extraordinary circumstances could be bad weather conditions, technical problems, strike, etc. The incident has to be unforeseeable and unavoidable. A technical defect that was caused by an inaccurate periodic maintenance therefore cannot be considered extraordinary.

 

Unfortunately, in practice the question whether the circumstances in place were unforeseeable and unavoidable in sense of the Regulation and rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on this topic, often is not possible to be answered without an expert investigation.

 

 

Delay

 

Regrettably, flight delays happen rather frequently. If the delay is 5 hours or even more you have the right to rescission and can demand the refund of the ticket price.

 

Otherwise, you are entitled to assistance by receiving free food and refreshments, a hotel room if waiting overnight is necessary including transport between airport and hotel as well as access to two free phone calls/faxes/e-mails.

 

The timeframe for this right to care is

  • delay of minimum two hours of a flight up to 1.500km
  • delay of minimum three hours of longer flights within the EU and other flights between 1.500km and 3.500km
  • delay of minimum four hours of a flight longer than 3.500km outside the EU

Besides, the CJEU rendered a judgement that passengers of long delayed flights are entitled to the same payment of compensation (with the same restrictions) as if their flight would have been cancelled.

This rule refers to flights were the arrival at the place of destination is at least three hours behind schedule.

 

 

Where to complain

 

Obliged by the Regulation is the operating air carrier, which is not necessarily the one you bought the ticket from. Relevant is who operated or should have operated the cancelled or delayed flight respectively the one you were denied boarding.

 

Passengers with reduced mobility

 

If you have a disability or if your mobility is reduced there should not be any burdens while travelling.  You have the right to buy tickets without additional surcharges and are entitled to receive assistance.

 

The managing body of an airport therefore has to ensure that help by staff members and necessary adjuvant are available.

 

In order to faciliate the provision of assistance it is highly recommended that you inform the airline, its agent or the tour operator at least 48 hours prior to departure.