How To Get Money From Flight Disruptions

Stefano Bersigotti
BURSTOUT Contributor

Stefano was born in the beautiful city of Rome. A hard working lawyer currently practicing in Italy, he also works as an assistant professor at Roma Tre University in “Public Finance”. During his spare time he loves traveling all around the world along with his surfboard. He is also an ambassador for Forever Trust Charity.

We should all know our rights when we travel around the world. Today we are going to get all information we need to be ready in case of flight disruptions in Europe.

As I said before, we do have rights in case things go wrong. This concerns cancellations, delays, and overbooking that prevent us from boarding and applies 
  • We are departing from a NY airport in EU (no matter with which airline)
  • We are arriving in the EU with an EU airline 

If we are denied boarding or our flight is cancelled or overbooked, we are entitled to either:

  • transport to our final destination using comparable alternative transportations, or 
  • having our ticket refunded and, where relevant, being returned free of charge to our initial departure point. 

If our flight is delayed by 5 hours or more we are also entitled to a refund (but if we accept a refund, the airline does not have to provide any further onward travel or assistance).

Our airline must inform us about our rights and the reason for being denied boarding, or any cancellations or long delays (over 2 hours, although this may be up to 4 hours for flights in excess of 3500 Km)

We may also be entitled to refreshments, meals, communications (such as a free phone call/ email /skype calls), and, if necessary, overnight stay, depending on the flight distance and length of delay.

In addition, if we are denied boarding, our flight is cancelled, or arrives more than 3 hours late to the final destination stated on our ticket, we may be entitled to compensation of €250 - 600 depending on the distance of the flight:

  • Within the EU 
  • 1,500 km or less - €250 
  • over 1,500 km - €400 

Between EU airport and non-EU airport
  • 1,500 km or less - €250 
  • 1,500 - 3,500 km - €400 
  • over 3,500 km - €600 

If the carrier offered us an alternative flight with a similar schedule, the compensation may be reduced by 50%.

With cancelled flights, we won't receive compensation if:
  • the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances, for example bad weather, 
  • or we were informed 2 weeks before the scheduled flight date, 
  • or we were offered an alternative for the same route with a similar schedule to the original one. 

For cancellation due to extraordinary circumstances we may not have the right to compensation, the carrier must still offer us either:

a ticket refund (in full or just the part we have haven’t used) 
alternative transport to our final destination at the earliest opportunity or 
rebooking at a later date of our choice (subject to seat availability). 

Even in extraordinary circumstances, airlines must provide assistance when necessary, while we are waiting for alternative transport.

But the question is: How to get a refund or compensation?

Submit the following air passenger rights EU complaint form to our airline - and make sure we keep a copy for ourselves:

Dear (airline’s name),

(Reference: flight number)

I am writing to you in connection with the above flight which I was booked onto on [date].

The flight was supposed to depart from (departure airport) at (time), but was cancelled. 

Under EU Denied Boarding Regulation 261/2004 I am entitled to the sum of ……. € (250/400/600/ it depends on the distance of the flight) compensation and look forward to receiving the USD equivalent within the next 14 days. 

I attach a copy of the ticket.

Yours sincerely,

If this doesn't work, or we aren't satisfied with the reply, we can complain to the national enforcement body in the EU country where the incident took place.

Or, if the incident happened at an airport of departure outside the EU but involved an EU airline, we can send a complaint to the relevant national enforcement body in the EU country we were travelling to.

Now we all know about air passengers rights. Sometimes a bad situation may turn into a positive situation.

So don’t screw up your European holiday, thinking about time lost, you have rights!

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