Have you ever had to reschedule your travel plans due to a flight cancellation or delay? And although it may be poor consolation: An EU law clearly defines the compensation that airlines have to pay in such cases.
According to the European Flight Compensation Regulation, as an airline passenger you are always entitled to either a refund of your ticket or alternative transportation if the airline cancels your flight.
If the airline cancels a flight less than two weeks before departure, passengers are entitled to compensation. However, the airline does have the right to cite “extraordinary circumstances” or force majeure.
These can include: bad weather conditions, bird strikes, terrorist threats, medical emergencies or a strike of airline employees.
The EU Commission has designated the coronavirus crisis as an “extraordinary circumstance.” Despite this, the airline is required to refund the ticket price, provide alternative travel arrangements or offer to rebook the flight for a later date.
If the airline cancels the flight, it is required to refund the ticket price within seven days. Generally the refund is issued using the same form of payment that you used to book the ticket.
According to the Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 of the EU, passengers flying with airlines from EU and EFTA countries and with start or destination airport in an EU or EFTA country (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland) are entitled to compensation of up to 600 euros if they are not transported.
However, this right applies only in the event of short-term cancellations no earlier than two weeks prior to departure and if the airline offers no alternative flight corresponding to the provisions of the EC regulation, article 5, para. 1(c).
The designated compensation depends on the length of the flight route booked:
The airline can reduce the compensation by 50% if the passengers affected are offered a reasonable alternative flight. An alternative flight is considered reasonable for a flight distance
than the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked.
Since the so-called Sturgeon judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2009, this compensation rule applies even in the case of delays of more than 3 hours – but only if the flight begins or ends in an EU country.
If a cancellation or delay occurs due to exceptional circumstances (bad weather conditions, bird strike, technical failure despite sufficient maintenance, the threat of terrorism, medical incidents, strikes, etc.), the airline is not to blame - and passengers have no right to compensation.
No, you are not required to accept a voucher.
Airlines generally do not charge a fee. The credit card company may charge a fee for foreign payments. It is also standard in the industry for travel agents, e.g. eDreams, Kiwi, Bravofly, etc., to deduct a processing fee for initiating a refund. This is usually set out in the terms and conditions and is therefore legal.
If there is a significant change in flight times, you are contractually entitled to cancel.
You are entitled to compensation if you were notified of the altered flight time up to seven days before departure and the flight leaves more than one hour earlier or arrives at the destination more than two hours later. The amount of compensation also depends on the flight distance.
If a flight is delayed for 5 or more hours, passengers may cancel the flight and request a refund of the ticket price. In this case, however, no additional compensation is owed.