The vast majority of air passenger rights are regulated by the European Regulation No 261/2004 which aims to ensure a high level of protection for passengers. After entering into force on 14 February 2005, the regulation introduces basic protection for passengers when they find themselves in situations of being denied boarding against their will, cancellations without prior warning and long delays. In these cases, passengers are entitled to compensation as well as to assistance.
The European Regulation No 261/2004 is directly binding in all European Union Member states.
The Regulation applies:
When an air carrier reasonably expects to deny boarding on a flight, it shall first call for volunteers to surrender their reservations in exchange for certain benefits under conditions to be discussed and agreed between the passenger concerned and the air carrier.
If an insufficient number of volunteers come forward to allow the remaining passengers with reservations to board the flight, the operating air carrier may then deny boarding to passengers against their will.
You are involuntarily denied boarding if your airline company refuses to allow you to board your flight even if you pose no safety, health or security risks to the air carrier concerned and you arrived at the airport with:
In case of involuntarily denied boarding, the air carrier shall offer you a choice between:
In case you choose to be re-routed soon after the denied boarding, the airline company must provide you with care and assistance whilst you are waiting on your alternative flight.
It is important to note that from a legal standpoint, overbooking is comparable to last minute ticket cancellation. In the event of a cancellation, Regulation No 261/2004 states that indemnification is due for cancellation if you have not been warned at least 15 days before departure. Therefore, overbooking falls automatically within the framework of cancelled flight provisions.
Therefore, the airline must also compensate you for involuntarily denying your boarding. The amount of compensation varies depending on the distance of your journey and the timeframes within which you were re-routed.
According to Regulation No 261/2004, in the event of a cancelled flight, passengers shall be compensated amounting to:
|Distance||Delay (at final destination after potential rebooking and/or re-routing)|
|Less than 2 hours||From 2h to 3h||From 3h to 4h||More than 4 hours||Never Arrived|
|Delayed||less than 1500km||€0||€0||€250||€250||€250|
|from 1500km to 3500km||€0||€0||€400||€400||€400|
|more than 3500km||€0||€0||€300||€600||€600|
|Cancelled||less than 1500km||€125||€250||€250||€250||€250|
|from 1500km to 3500km||€200||€200||€400||€400||€400|
|more than 3500km||€300||€300||€300||€600||€600|
|Overbooked||less than 1500km||€250||€250||€250||€250||€250|
|from 1500km to 3500km||€400||€400||€400||€400||€400|
|more than 3500km||€600||€600||€600||€600||€600|
Nonetheless, it should be noted that contrarily to the cancellation legal framework, the air carrier can in no way be relieved of responsability by reporting the existence of an extraordinary circumstance.
In the event of denied boarding, the airline shall provide passengers with care and assistance. In accordance with Regulation No 261/2004, passengers shall be offered free of charge meals and refreshments as well as hotel accommodation and transport when necessary. In addition, passengers should be given the possibility to make free of charge two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or sending e-mails.
However, it is common for airlines to derogate from their obligation of care and assistance. Unfortunately, this means passengers may be forced to personally incur additional costs such as meals, refreshments or transport.
For this reason, it is crucial to keep invoices and / or receipts in order to be refunded by the airline.
Yes, your rights are guaranteed by the European Commission and all EU Member states, yet airlines may continue to stall for time and abuse the use of “extraordinary conditions” that can justify delays when they are in fact responsible for the issue – such as a mechanical problem, or a personal strike. In the confusion of a crowded airport, anything can be said without consequence as the passenger is often misinformed, or information is forgotten. Furthermore, when you write a letter of complaint asking for indemnification, it can be difficult to question the validity of the reason given for the delay (When you are lucky enough to get an answer…).
By connecting to Air Traffic databases, our system can accurately and unquestionably identify the causes for delays. This system developed by our team prevents airlines from claiming fanciful reasons to explain delays, and allows unequivocal application of the relevant regulation.
This operational credibility combined with our network of lawyers enables us to make faster claims and improve the success rate of the indemnification process with the airline’s legal department.
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