Even if your rights in the USA do not do much for delays, if you are traveling to or from an EU country you have definite benefits. US and EU carriers must abide by the rules and you may be able to get some serious compensation. Several years ago, I got a complete refund on one of our trips which cut our airfare in half. The following web site has the complete details of your rights.
From the web site here is some helpful information:
Go directly to the site above for active links to all areas. I
FAQs – Air passenger rights
A European airline recently lost my baggage. I complained to the airline, but am not fully satisfied with their reaction. Can I complain to someone else?
YES – For a cross-border flight, you can contact your country’s European Consumer Centre. For a domestic flight, contact a national consumer centre in your country.
When booking a flight recently, I was shocked, when it came to pay, to see the final cost once taxes and charges had been added. Surely, airlines are supposed to make the total price of the ticket, including taxes and charges, visible from the start?
YES – and the cost of each item (the fare, taxes, charges, surcharges and fees) must be clearly displayed.
If I am travelling from outside the EU, e.g. from the USA to Paris, do I have any rights if my flight is cancelled?
YES – provided your air carrier is licensed in a European country.
I booked a flight to Barcelona from Rome. Due to heavy traffic, I arrived at the airport late but just before the gates closed for the flight. I was not allowed to board the flight. Do I have any rights?
NO – as you did not comply with the requirement to present yourself for check-in within the time stipulated.
Is there a time limit within which I can bring legal action for compensation for a cancelled flight?
This depends on national law in each European country and will therefore vary throughout the EU. Check with the National Enforcement body in the country concerned or a national consumer centre for more information.
Do I have any rights if I am not allowed to board my connecting flight because I arrived late at the gates due to a delay with the first flight?
YES – if the flights are part of a single reservation, the carrier has to offer you the option between the reimbursement of your ticket and a return flight to the airport of departure at the earliest opportunity or re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or re-routing at a later date at your convenience under comparable transport conditions, subject to the availability of seats. In case you are re-routed and you reach your final destination with a delay of 3 hours or more you are entitled to compensation.
My flight is due to depart from Berlin this morning but I have just received a text from the airline advising that the flight has been cancelled. Do I have any rights?
YES – you have rights under EU rules. You are entitled to reimbursement of the full cost of your ticket for the part of your journey not made or re-routing at the earliest opportunity. If you are already at the airport and you opt for re-routing, you are also entitled to meals and refreshments in proportion to your waiting time, and two telephone calls, texts or emails. You are also entitled to overnight accommodation if you are to be re-routed the day after your planned flight and, depending on the circumstances, to monetary compensation.
If the aircraft has a technical defect, can it be considered as “extraordinary circumstances”?
NO – a technical problem which comes to light during normal aircraft maintenance or is caused by the failure to correctly maintain an aircraft cannot be regarded as “extraordinary circumstances”.
YES – if the technical defect was related to an incident which was not caused by the normal activity of air carriers and falls outside their control due its nature or origin. For example a hidden manufacturing defect uncovered by the aircraft manufacturer or by a competent authority, or damage to the aircraft caused by acts of sabotage or terrorism would qualify as extraordinary circumstances.
My flight has been delayed for four hours. Am I entitled to monetary compensation?
Once your flight has been delayed for more than three hours, you may be entitled to monetary compensation if the airline cannot prove that the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
When I arrived at the check-in, I was informed that my Brussels-Warsaw flight had been cancelled. I opted not to travel and was told that the cost of my ticket would be refunded and that I would receive financial compensation. Weeks later I still have received nothing. Is there a time limit for payment of refunds and compensation?
YES – you should have received the refund of the cost of your ticket within seven days of the cancellation. Payment of compensation depends on the reason for the cancelled flight but the EU rules do not provide for a deadline for payment of compensation.
Am I entitled to compensation only for flights that were cancelled or can I also get compensation for delayed flights?
Both. With cancelled/delayed flights, you won’t receive compensation if the cancellation/delay was due to extraordinary circumstances for example due to bad weather. Where the cancellation/delay was due to extraordinary circumstances, you may not have the right to compensation, but the carrier must still offer you assistance (reimbursement or re-routing) and care (meals and/or accommodation) while you are waiting for alternative transport.
See main information on this topic
Air passenger rights
EU Regulation on air passenger rights
European Commission Interpretative Guidelines on air passenger rights
EU Regulation on common rules for the operation of air services
EU Regulation on air carrier liability in respect of the carriage of passengers and their baggage
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