Cancelled flight? Overbooked or delayed? Read this handy guide which tells you what to do when things go wrong.
It’s no secret that travelling isn’t always plain sailing and passengers are often faces with delays, cancellations and, as we’ve seen in the news recently– not enough seats! Skyscanner.ie has pulled together a handy what to do when things go wrong guide, highlighting exactly what your rights are should one of these inconveniences happen to you, as well as some top tips to ensure you are as prepared as possible.
My flight has been delayed or cancelled – what are my rights?
They key thing to know here is that-if your flight has been cancelled at extremely short notice, it is the airline’s responsibility to ensure that you have an alternative way home or to your destination. There are varying laws within and outside of EU which can cause confusion, especially in amongst the chaos of cancellations. Within the EU – if your flight is delayed for more than three hours you are within your rights to get the same compensation as those who have suffered entirely cancelled flights. However outside the EU – these laws differ and flying home from a non-EU country will result in an alternative route home but you are not entitled to food or accommodation during the wait. For more details click here. For live updates if your flight has been cancelled or delayed, click here.
As with most things, policies vary depending on the airline or travel provider you have book with when it comes to paying up due to a delayed or cancelled flight. With delays, which are considered two hours for short haul flights and four for long haul flights, airlines should compensate you with meal vouchers and accommodation should the delay be longer. A key point to remember is that bad weather, strikes or reasons the airline deems not their fault- meaning compensation would only be available through your travel insurance.
What am I entitled to?
- Delays 3+ hours €250 for short flights and €400 for medium flights (between 1,500-3,500km)
- Delays 3-4 hours €300 and 4+ hours €600 for long haul flights
- Cancelled flight – full refund or alternative transport
As you know when you’re purchasing your travel insurance, different providers come with different policies and it’s important you triple check that the one you decide to go with covers for delays or cancellations. Often cheaper policies won’t cover these!
Connecting flights add to the headache if a flight has been cancelled or delayed, so what happens when you miss it? If missing the flight has been no fault of your own and you are connecting with the same airline, then they will be able to organise another flight for you, assuming that you have purchased one ticket from your origin to your destination. However, there is a grey area when you are flying with different airlines and have bought separate tickets, it is likely you will have to foot the bill of the connecting flight. We can hold on to hope that some may offer you a seat on the next available flight for free but it is unlikely! Car hire and hotels affected by cancellations or delays will all come down to the conditions of the booking and this is another good example of how a good travel insurance policy will avoid any nasty surprises.
We’ve seen in recent news that passengers are being asked to leave airplanes because of overbooking. So how can this happen? Airlines have been overselling flight tickets for years to compensate for passengers that don’t turn up, but this is not fool proof as, on occasion, everyone turns up. There are two options for you as a passenger in this situation
1. Accept compensation, usually ranging between €200 and €400. There is often an opportunity to haggle here if no one is volunteering to take the boot. The airline will almost certainly offer accommodation and a new flight on top of compensation, but this isn’t always guaranteed so be sure to check before you step off that plane. If you don’t receive compensation you can complain to the Aviation Regulation Authority here.
2. DON’T volunteer. You are entitled to refuse an airline’s offer to compensation in return for giving up your seat. If they insist that you cannot fly although you have paid for a ticket, this is considered being involuntarily denied boarding and can result in much higher compensation. If you don’t volunteer and are removed from the flight, you are also entitled to compensation during the wait between your initial flight and new flight.
Top tips to avoid being bumped
- Check in early
- Go to the gate early (people who arrive last to the gate are more likely to be denied)
- Become a frequent flyer (you are more likely to be accommodated for)
- Choose your flight time carefully (avoid times where you know the flight will be full)
- Pick an airline that never overbooks (Ryanair has a policy that it will never overbook flights, do your research when picking an airline)