The vast majority of flights depart on time, since flight schedules operate very much like clockwork. Planes only spend as long at airports as it takes for the arriving passengers to disembark, the aircraft to be prepped for the return leg and the next set of passengers to be boarded. Nevertheless, delays do occasionally occur for a variety of reasons, such as bad weather, technical issues or a passenger or crew member being taken ill. What then are airlines obliged to do in such circumstances – and what do you need to know if your trip is affected in this way?
If your flight is delayed, the most likely scenario is that the airline will inform you of this, and of the estimated new departure time, by SMS or e-mail (depending which option you consented to when you bought your ticket).
If you have yet to arrive at the airport when this information reaches you and you decide to delay setting out for the airport, bear in mind that you should only do this if the airline lets you know that it is okay to do so. Otherwise, we still recommend arriving at the airport two hours before the original scheduled departure time of your flight.
If you are already in the terminal when notified of the delay, do as follows:
- Listen out for updates on the new departure time of your flight or for announcements about when information will become available in this regard.
- Keep checking to see whether the airline has texted/e-mailed you new information or issued you with a new ticket. If you have checked in baggage, contact staff to make sure that it is loaded onto the new flight.
- Go to your airline’s website and check your booking, as you may already have been offered a replacement flight. If you have checked in baggage, contact staff to make sure that it is loaded onto the new flight.
- Contact your airline.
Anything more than two hours beyond the original departure time is considered a lengthy delay.
– If you experience a delay of more than two hours, you are entitled to have the cost of catering and any necessary communications covered. If the delay requires you to spend the night in a hotel, the airline must arrange and cover the cost of this for you, including airport transfers.
– If you experience a delay of more than five hours, you are entitled to have the cost of your flight refunded and, where required, to have a free flight arranged for you back to the starting point of your trip.
It is important to be aware of the fact that in accordance with European Court of Justice practice, any passenger whose flight arrives at its destination three or more hours later than scheduled has the right to statutory compensation (in the range of 250-600 euros) on the same conditions as if the flight was cancelled. The carrier is freed from the obligation to pay this compensation if it is able to prove that the late arrival was due to extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all possible measures had been taken.
- If you are in the airport terminal, listen out for announcements about what to do next. In most cases you will be directed to return to the check-in counters, where you will be given information about your rights and options (e.g. whether you are entitled to receive a catering voucher and accommodation and taxi services).
- Keep checking to see whether the airline has texted/e-mailed you new information or issued you with a new ticket.
- Go to your airline’s website and check your booking, as you may already have been offered a new option.
- Contact your airline.
If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to:
– choose between a refund on your ticket and a replacement flight to the destination;
– be provided with services while waiting for the replacement flight (sufficient food and, if needed, accommodation and airport transfers); and
– apply for compensation in the range of 125-600 euros (depending on the length of your flight and the duration of any delays resulting from the change in route).
If passengers are informed of the cancellation of their flight well ahead of time or if it emerges that the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances (e.g. bad weather or a snap strike), the carrier is not obliged to pay the compensation. However, in such cases the airline is required to provide evidence of the extraordinary nature of the cancellation.
Many rights have been established in the EU to guarantee the fair treatment of air travellers. These rights are primarily regulated by Regulation (EC) no. 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council and the Montreal Convention.
If a problem arises, you must first lodge a written complaint with the carrier in question. If the carrier fails to respond to the complaint within two months or if you feel that the solution they provide is not in line with the law, contact the
Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority:
www.ttja.ee | www.ecc.ee