If you have ever been unfortunate enough to experience flight delays then you will know how frustrating they are, more so if it is a holiday delay and you are on your way out on holiday as they are in effect cutting your holiday short!
What Can We Do About Airline Delays?
Most of us just accept this as an inconvenience that we can't do anything about and don't consider requesting compensation. However in February 2005 this changed when the European Union ruled that compensation should be paid to passengers who experience delays or have their flights cancelled.
This does not necessarily apply to all delays, but if you find yourself in a situation where:-
* You are moved onto a different flight
* Do not fly at the arranged time
* The delay has not been caused by you!
Then you may as well see if you can actually claim compensation, nothing ventured nothing gained as they say.
If there is an airline cancellation, then different levels of compensation may apply dependent on the length of the flight on which you were booked and how much notice you were given with regards to the flight cancellation and how much delay you experienced before you actually reached your destination. This can be quite a significant sum of money too; up to 600 Euros in fact! So it is definitely worth making the effort to find out. If the delay exceeds 5 hours you actually have the option to request a full refund for your ticket if it results in you deciding not to travel.
Added extras to make the delay more comfortable should also be offered such as free food and drinks once on the aircraft, and an overnight stay in a hotel and transfers to those who have significant delays which go into the night.
Anyone who has experienced delays I am sure will agree that this added consideration for the passengers would really be appreciated.
Claiming Compensation for Flight Delays
Travel companies will offer you a refreshment voucher which can be exchanged for food and drink, if there is a delay above a couple of hours, and they will re-issue them if the delay goes on for longer periods of time. (if your flight is over 1500km this will increase to 3 hours). Be aware that some airports (especially abroad) practically close down after a certain time of night, so don't hang on to your vouchers as there may be no-where to exchange them! They will also provide you with two telephone calls and / or emails. If any delay goes over 5 hours, they should begin to provide accomodation for travellers as well as transfers to and from that accomodation.
To make a claim for compensation you must contact the airline directly as soon as is possible, and let them know you intend to claim compensation. If they do not resolve this directly with you then contact the Air Transport Users Council.
Remember though delays must be the fault of the airline and not be due to issues outside of their control such as Bad Weather or Strikes.
Know Your Rights
It is always good to know your facts when situations such as this arise, knowing your stuff has a tendency to get you heard and being able to quote the legislation which is in place for this type of situation (EU Regulation 261/2004) really does make people sit up and listen to what you have to say.