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Problems during air travel

Delays, flight cancellation, denied boarding

Nearly every day brings media reports about problems regarding air travel. Especially during the holiday season, many consumers are affected by delayed or cancelled flight. We made an overview of your rights in such cases.

Your 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.

Information duties

The airline is obliged to care for the display of the following announcement at the check-in counter: "If you were denied boarding or if your flight was cancelled or delayed for more than two hours, please demand written information regarding your rights at the check-in counter or at the gate, especially concerning compensation or assistance." 

Furthermore, the airline has to provide you with an information form as soon as the problem occurs, telling you about your rights to care services and eventual compensation.

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.

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. Therefore you should send your claims directly to the respective air carrier as a registered letter.

Problems regarding your luggage

This area is not covered by the Air Passenger Rights Regulation. Nonetheless, you have specific rights if your luggage is delayed, lost or damaged. All information as well as the respective sample letters are summarised in our article: Baggage claims.

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This could also be of interest:

Air travel: Denied boarding

If you were at the check-in counter on time, having valid travel documents with you and were still denied boarding you are entitled to several rights and services.

Air travel: Cancellation

In case your booked flight was cancelled, you are entitled to several rights and services.

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