PRThe European Union (EU) has adopted new rules that guarantee compensation for airline passengers who are bumped from flights or whose flights are delayed or cancelled. These revised regulations apply to all airlines -scheduled and chartered -flying within the EU as well as all EU airlines flying from non-EU countries to the EU.

These changes don't make scintillating reading, but they will be important for any passenger flying to, within or from Europe.
Pay close attention to these details if planning to fly on the European low-cost carriers. They are notorious for delays and cancellations. No airline will be going out of its way to provide all the compensation now required. However, it will provide compensation if you request it.

The bottom line: know your rights and ask.
The new EU rules, which came into effect on February 17, 2005, now provide passengers with more rights and protections when it comes to bumping, delays, and cancellations than passengers have in the United States.
The biggest differences between US regulations and the new EU rules is the breath of coverage. US regulations cover scheduled airlines with one set of rules. But they cover charter carriers with a much less strict set of guidelines. EU rules are identical for both scheduled carriers and charter operators. US rules have no firm guidance for damages s in the case of delays.
These new EU regulations clearly work in favor of the passengers.
Anyone who has experienced long delays at airports that ruin business meetings and vacations, should be heartened by the news.


If the delay or cancellation is caused by weather or forces outside of the control of the airline, there is no compensation required.
Bumped passengers: Bumping rules are similar to those Legislated in the USA. The compensation is much richer. Compensation must be paid immediately, in cash (or with vouchers if the passenger agrees) and the airlines must offer passengers the choice of a refund, a flight back to their original departure point or an alternative flight. The airlines must ask for volunteers and those volunteers must be offered the same compensation. Any bumped passenger will also have limited rights to meals, refreshment accommodation and free e-mail or phone calls when necessary.

Cancelled flights: When flights are canceled for reasons within the airlines’ control, the airline must compensate passengers. This compensation is payable even if you flight has not left the airport. If the airline provides passengers at least two another flight with similar at least two weeks notice or has provided another flight with similar departure times, there will be no compensation.

These rules will make airlines think twice about arbitrarily canceling flights.

  • Bumping and cancelled flight compensation
  • Flight length = less than 1,500 km  Delay = 2+ hours   Compensation = Euros 250,
  • Flight length = 1,500 to 3,500 km    Delay = 2 to 3 hours Compensation = Euros 300
  • Delay = 3+ hours Compensation = Euros 400
  • Flight length = 3,500+ km Delay= 4+ hours Compensation = Euros 600
  • Delayed flights: Passengers who are delayed the airlines are now obliged to offer meals and refreshments as well as lodging if an overnight stay is necessary.
  • Passengers with flights of 1,500 km or less who are delayed two hours or more should be given meals and refreshments and two free telephone calls, e-mails or faxes.
  • Passengers with flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km with delays for three hours or more and for all longer flights delayed for four hours or more should b given meals and refreshments and two free telephone calls, e-mails or faxes.
  • When the delay is at least five hours passengers are entitled a refund of their ticket and a free return flight to the point of origin should the flight no longer serve the airlines any purpose, Otherwise the airlines are are required to reroute passengers to their  final destinations. Again, meals, refreshments, lodging, and email are required at airline's expense, if necessary.

To ensure that passengers are aware of these new rights, each check-in counter will post the following, "If you are denied boarding of if your flight is canceled or delayed for at least two hours; ask at the check-in counter or boarding gate for the text stating your rights, particularly with regard to compensation and assistance."
Each time a passenger is denied boarding or a flight is canceled, the airlines are required to provide written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance according to the new regulations.

Remember, passengers should ask for compensation. The airlines  will not normally offer any. Travelers should know the rules of the air before agreeing to any compensation.

Updated information from FlyersRights.org:

EU Airlines Must Pay Passengers for Late FlightsTuesday, October 30, 2012  Is your airline trying to make up for your ridiculously late flight by giving you free candy?  Don't let them get away with that. Often, passengers are placated and cheated out of compensation with vouchers for a free meal or a refreshment, when they are legally entitled to a much higher reimbursement.

Last week, The European Court of Justice ruled that people who fly in the European Union are entitled to money (as much as 600 Euros or $775 US) if a flight is more than three hours late, The Guardian reported.    Europe's highest court upheld a 2009 decision which ruled that passengers flying within the EU who experience significant flight delays have the same rights to compensation as passengers whose flights are cancelled. This law paves the way for passengers to claim millions in compensation.  

"The Court of Justice has confirmed its previous ruling that passengers whose flights have been delayed for a long time may be compensated," the court said. Carriers would be exempt if delays were due to "extraordinary circumstances" but it did not outline what this might be.  Bad weather will allow airlines sidestep responsibility, but the court said many cases of industrial action were not valid excuses. 

The judgment clarifies a confusing area in the flight delay regulation and opens up airlines to potentially millions in claims. The Civil Aviation Authority told the Guardian that the verdict provides "much needed clarity". 

Kate Hanni, Executive Director of FlyersRights.org said, "Our members and the press should be illustrated the rights of passengers in the EU vs US.  The EU is the gold standard, and most airlines don't tell unsuspecting passengers that they even have these rights when traveling to EU."   

Kate added, "I know the founder of EUCLAIM whose attorneys fought for this in court. They've had a really tough road, but they won rights for the flying public that our congress and DOT would not even consider."  

Delayed European Flight?  Know Your Rights   As the holidays approach, it's important to be familiar with passenger rights in your arrival and departure destinations before heading to the airport during the busiest travel season of the year.   

For more information on your rights as a flyer, read your airline's contract of carriage. And even if, for whatever reason, you aren't legally eligible to receive compensation for a flight delay or cancellation, you should still make a call to your airline. Carriers will sometimes provide lodging, transportation, or meal vouchers to stranded flyers. You often just have to ask.   

Thanks to the EU Court of Justice, passengers will continue to receive compensation if their European travel plans are upended.   Laws protecting passengers in the U.S. are different from those in Europe. In Europe, air passengers have more rights and are compensated by law for over-bookings, cancellations or flight delays.  In the US, we have DOT rules to compensate us for a canceled flight, but they can be overturned by a new president.

FlyersRights is working to turn the Passenger Bill of Rights rule into federal law, which is permanent. 

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