Customers’ rights against airlines

Have you recently experienced a flight cancellation and want to get a refund? Are you considering cancelling a flight and worried about getting your money back?

In this article, we will explore your rights against airlines when faced with a flight cancellation or alteration, and whether you can claim a refund with or without additional compensation.

According to EU Regulation 261/2004, in case of cancellation of your flight, the airline must offer you two options:

  1. Full refund of all flights on your booking. The airline is obliged to make this refund within 7 days of the request.
  2. Alternative flight to your destination as soon as possible or at a later date that suits you.

In addition, if your flight is an EU flight and the cancellation was notified less than 14 days in advance or was due to problems within the airline (such as staff strikes, scheduling or technical problems), you may be entitled to financial compensation.

Compensation for canceled flights

Article 7 of the Regulation provides for the following standard compensations:

  • 250 euros for flights up to 1500 km.
  • 400 € for intra-Community flights over 1500 km, as well as for flights between 1500 and 3500 km.
  • 600 euros for flights exceeding 3500 km.

These compensations are based on the distance of the flight and the delay time experienced compared to the originally scheduled time.

If your flight originates or terminates outside the EU, your rights may vary depending on the airline and the specific location of your flight. It is essential to verify the relevant policies. The rules are clear for flights within the EU and to/from the EU if the airline is European.

Regarding the cancellation of flights you want to cancel yourself, the policy may vary from airline to airline. In general, non-refundable tickets do not usually allow for a refund. Even with tickets labelled as “refundable”, this often refers to the possibility to change the date of the flight at no additional cost.

If you find yourself in the situation where you have had a flight cancelled, the first thing to do is to contact the airline or travel agency through which you booked your flight. Check their cancellation policies and find out if you are entitled to vouchers or refunds for additional expenses such as food and accommodation.

For flight delays, your rights may include the option to change your flight or, if the delay exceeds 5 hours, the possibility of reimbursement. It is advisable to check the specific policy of your airline. If you decide to make alternative travel arrangements on your own, these expenses are generally not covered by legislation and you will need to contact your travel insurance.

In case of difficulties in obtaining adequate compensation or assistance from the airline, you have the right to lodge an official complaint with the competent authority in your country.