You can claim compensation if your flight is delayed. Did you know?
Have you ever had to catch a plane, rushed to the airport and then found out that your flight was going to be delayed? It is an annoying situation that can happen to everyone at some point, especially if we travel frequently, but it can be very problematic if our flight was scheduled early in the morning or late in the evening.
What protection do we have in these cases?
You may not be aware of it, but when travelling in the EU, taking a flight departing from an EU airport or returning to the EU with a European carrier, you may be entitled to financial compensation in the event of a delay.
PASSENGER RIGHTS ESTABLISHED BY EU LAW
Air passenger rights are established and protected by a European law, Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament.
The Regulation applies to all flights within EU territory, including some non-EU countries such as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and the “outermost regions”, the overseas territories of France and Spain which include Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Réunion, Martinique, Mayotte and Saint-Martin, the Azores and Madeira, and the Canary Islands.
TO WHICH FLIGHTS DOES THE EU REGULATION APPLY
The Regulation applies to all flights within the territory of the EU and therefore also to carriers from non-European countries that operate flights between European cities.
The Regulation also applies to all flights departing from an EU airport to a non-EU country, without distinction between EU and non-EU carriers.
In the case of flights with destination an EU airport but departing from a non-EU airport, the protections of the EC Regulation 261 apply only to passengers flying with a European airline.
In the case of travel outside the territory of the European Union, such as an intercontinental flight between Tokyo and Sydney, the Regulation does not apply.
The protections guaranteed apply to all passengers, whether or not they are EU citizens.
WHEN YOU ARE ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION
If a delay of only a few minutes were enough to warrant compensation, most airlines would probably have to suspend their service. Therefore, the Regulation have established that compensation can only be claimed for delays of more than 3 hours.
The time of arrival is determined by the moment when the aircraft doors are opened to begin disembarking passengers.
THERE ARE SOME EXCEPTIONS
Not all delays are equal. If the delay is due to “exceptional circumstances”, you cannot claim compensation.
In general, you should bear in mind that “extraordinary circumstances” are those events that cannot be attributed to the airline, such as a medical emergency that requires an unscheduled stopover or adverse weather conditions, most commonly snow or fog, that prevent the proper functioning of the airport. Exceptional circumstances also include acts of sabotage and terrorist acts.
WHAT COMPENSATION DO I GET
Now we come to the most interesting point, the one that really interests us: how much do I get?
- 250 euro per voli fino a 1.500 Km
- 400 euro per voli in UE superiori a 1.500 Km
- 400 euro per voli extra UE tra 1.500 e 3.500 Km
- Fino a 600 euro per le altre tratte aeree
WHAT DOCUMENTS I NEED
If you believe you are entitled to compensation, follow these steps to make your claim to the airline:
- Find out the cause of the delay. You can ask the company employees at a passenger assistance desk.
- Keep all the flight documents: ticket and boarding pass.
- Obtain a document certifying the delay: take a photo of the schedule board or request the information from the airline by mail
- Document all the expenses you have personally incurred because of the delay.
Remember that you may be offered a voucher. Before accepting, read all the conditions carefully as you may release the airline from its obligation to compensate you for the flight.
BY WHEN TO CLAIM COMPENSATION
If your flight has been delayed and you are entitled to compensation under the EC Regulation, it is advisable to make your claim as soon as possible.
The maximum time limit for filing a complaint and claiming compensation varies from country to country.
For Germany the time limit is 3 years, 5 years for France and Spain. Only 2 for Italy.