The EEC (European Economic Community) and the United States have certain rights for air travelers. However, only a few people are aware of their rights, and that includes financial compensation. You must know your rights if something goes wrong, like overbooking, flight cancelation, and delays that keep you from boarding your plane. Below is an overview of your basic rights for Europe and the United States.
Your rights when your flight is cancelled or delayed
The United States
The United States Department of Transportation states that you have certain air-travel rights, including cases of tarmac delays and involuntary bumping. However, flight cancelation or delay will be based on the airline.
1. Flight Cancelations or Delays
If your flight has been rescheduled, significantly delayed, or canceled for any reason, then you have the right to reroute your flight at no extra cost, or you can get a full refund, even if it is a non-refundable ticket. Airline policies will be different about what is seen as a significant delay or a schedule change.
There are federal rules that state foreign carriers and domestic airlines that fly in the United States have a customer service plan that will describe what the airline promises to do in the event of diversion events, cancelations, and delays. Service plans and contracts will often call for a meal voucher whenever the delay is past the usual mealtime and hotel stays for overnight delays, but this does vary based on the airline.
If you have a delay, then some airlines will transfer you to another airline if they can get you to your destination earlier than what your original flight had. Then some airlines may transfer you, but it is at their discretion. Then there are still airlines that will offer a seat on their next available flight. The contracts of carriage or customer service plans call for compensation whenever an airline fails to commit.
2. Tarmac Delays
The Department of Transportation state that an airline may not keep you on a plan for more than four hours for an international flight or three hours for a domestic flight, with exceptions made for air traffic control reasons, security reasons, or safety reasons. The airline must provide updates to you every 30 minutes and make sure that you have food and water after two hours on the tarmac and working bathrooms and medical treatment if needed.
3. Involuntary Bumping
Whenever an airline involuntarily bumps you from an oversold flight, it will owe you compensation:
• Bumped with a long delay: If you are bumped from a flight, then you are entitled to get four times the price of your ticket, up to $1300 if you are delayed for an extended period such as more than four hours after the original time of arrival for an international flight and two hours past their original scheduled time of arrival for a domestic flight.
• Bumped with a short delay: If you are bumped from a flight, then you are entitled to double the price of your ticket, up to $650 if the airline can get you to your destination within a short period, such as up to two hours after their originally scheduled arrival time.
These compensation limits are adjusted for inflation every two years. Importantly, when an airline bumps a passenger for reasons other than overbooking (for example, an aircraft with a capacity of 30 to 60 passengers has weight and balance issues due to a switch to a smaller aircraft), these rules will not be applicable or flight delay or cancellation.
The European Union (EU) is the one part of the world that allows airline passengers to have basic, well-defined rights for air travel, on the condition that is arriving in the EU with an EU carrier or one from Switzerland, Norway, or Iceland or they are leaving an airport located in the EU. The rights of a passenger are protected by Regulation EC261 from the EU.
1. Financial Compensation
If you are denied boarding, your flight is more than three hours late arriving at the final destination stated on your ticket or is canceled, and then you may be entitled to compensation between €250 to €600, based on the distance of the flight.
Between a non-EU and EU airport:
• Over 3500km: €600
• 1500km to 3500km: €400
• 1500km or less: €250
Inside the EU:
• Over 1500km: €400
• Under 1500km: €250
The distance will be calculated based on your final destination and not an intermediate hub when it comes to connecting flights.
If the carrier offers you an alternative flight with a similar schedule, then the compensation could be reduced by 50%.
If your flight is canceled because of extraordinary circumstances, you may not be entitled to compensation. However, the carrier must offer you:
2. Overnight stay at a hotel and food
You may be entitled to communications such as phone calls, meals, refreshments, and, if needed, overnight stay based on the length of delay and flight distance.
3. Alternative Transport or Refund
If your flight has been delayed by more than five hours, overbooked, or canceled, or you are denied boarding, you will be entitled to:
Having your ticket refunded and being returned free of charge to your initial departure point
Transport to your final destination using comparable means
If you accept a refund, then the airline has the option not to provide any other assistance.
Your airline must inform you about your rights and the reason that you have been denied boarding or of long delays or cancelations.
4. Request Compensation or Refund
You will need to submit an EU air passenger rights complaint form to the airline. Keep a copy for yourself, and if that does not work, or you are not satisfied with the reply, you may submit a complaint to the EU national enforcement body where the incident took place. If the incident happened at a departure airport outside of the EU, but it was an EU airline, then you can send your complaint to the national enforcement body in the EU country that you were traveling to.
VISION Destinations | February 21
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