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Flight cancellation: air passengers’ rights

flight cancellationIn the event of flight cancellation passengers are entitled to assistance and compensation (from € 250 to € 600) from the airline company of interest. There is no right to compensation in case the flight is cancelled due to “extraordinary circumstances”. Technical problems of the aircraft, poor aircraft maintenance or unavailable flight crew are not covered by the concept of “extraordinary circumstances”.


Flight cancellation: air passengers’ rights

Regulation 261/2004, art. 5, establishes that passengers who were subject to flight cancellation* shall be offered PECUNIARY COMPENSATION and ASSISTANCE from the airline company of interest.

A) COMPENSATION in the event of flight cancellation (Reg. 261/2004, art. 7)

Passengers who were subject to flight cancellation shall receive compensation in the following amounts:

 DISTANCE    AMOUNT
 up to 1500 km    250 
 between 1500 and 3500 km  € 400 
 more than 1500 km with reference to intra-European flights   400 
 every other distance not included above   600 

However, compensation is not due in case passengers:

are informed of the cancellation at least two weeks (14 days) before the scheduled time of departure; or

are informed of the cancellation between two weeks (14 days) and seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than two hours before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination** less than four hours after the scheduled time of arrival; or

are informed of the cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival.

There is no right to compensation in case the flight is cancelled due to extraordinary circumstances (which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken by the airline company) not foreseeable by the air carrier, such as bad weather conditions, strikes or for safety and security reasons. However, according to the Court of Justice of the EU, technical problems of the aircraft, poor aircraft maintenance or unavailable flight crew which lead to the cancellation of a flight are not covered by the concept of ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

Passengers can request a refund with reference to expenses which they have incurred as a consequence of the cancellation***.

See how to request a refund and/or compensation in the event of flight cancellation.

B)  ASSISTANCE in the event of flight cancellation (Reg. 261/2004, art. 8 – 9)

The airline company shall offer passengers:

  • reimbursement within seven days of the full cost of the ticket for the unused part of it, such as the return flight****, together with a return flight to the first point of departure at the earliest opportunity (if applicable), or
  • re-routing under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at the passengers’ convenience, subject to availability of seats (Reg. 261/2004, art.8);
  • meals and refreshments in a reasonable proportion to the waiting time;
  • two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails;
  • hotel accommodation in cases where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary, and transport between the airport and place of accommodation (e.g. hotel or other), only in case of re-routing when the reasonably expected time of departure of the new flight is at least the day after the departure as it was planned for the cancelled flight.

In the event of cancellation of a flight the air carrier shall provide each passenger with a written notice setting out the rules concerning compensation and assistance, and the contact details of the competent body responsible for the enforcement of Regulation 261/2004, which in Italy is the Italian Civil Aviation Authority – ENAC (Reg. 261/2004, art. 14).

 

* “Cancellation means the non-operation of a flight which was previously planned and on which at least one place was reserved” (Reg. 261/2004, art. 2).
*“Final destination means the destination on the ticket presented at the check-in counter or, in the case of directly connecting flights, the destination of the last flight; alternative connecting flights available shall not be taken into account if the original planned arrival time is respected” (Reg. 261/2004, art. 2).
*** In case the airline staff is unable or refuses to provide care and assistance at the time of the delay, cancellation or overbooking, passengers have the right to personally organize care and assistance for themselves, keeping all receipts in order to prove the expenses, and ask the airline company to reimburse them at a later date.

Besides the compensation in the fixed amounts determined by Regulation 261/2004, under art. 12 of  the same act, passengers have the right to claim further compensation, if applicable (e.g. if passengers incurred expenses for € 300 but are entitled only to € 250, they may request the difference of € 50). The compensation granted under this Regulation may be deducted from such compensation, unless passengers have voluntarily surrendered their reservation.

Air carriers do not compensate passengers in case of security reasons or whose travel documents are not in order/correct/valid, nor do they pay the expenses for hotel, meals, drinks, etc. in case passengers re-schedule the flight at a later date at their own convenience.

**** Payments can be made by the airline company either in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders, bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services.

David

David

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