FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS AND DELAYS

How to claim against an airline under European Law

Globally, the aviation industry has been impacted severely by strikes, staff shortages, COVID-19 travel regulations and airport logistical issues following the resumption of international travel, post-pandemic.


Domestically, particularly in relation to Dublin Airport, there were a number of cancelled, delayed and missed flights due in part to airlines and DAA planning oversights, but what are your consumer rights when it comes to flight cancellations and delays?


WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR FLIGHT IS CANCELLED?

Under European Law, when a flight is cancelled, you have the choice to be refunded the cost of your ticket within 7 days or rerouted to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or re-routed at a later date that suits you but subject to the availability of seats by the airline.


COMPENSATION ENTITLEMENTS FOR CANCELLED FLIGHTS:

You may also be entitled to compensation for cancelled flights. The entitlement and the amount can vary depending on when you were informed of the cancellation, the arrangements for an alternative flight, the distance of the flight cancelled and the reason for the cancellation.


COMPENSATION WHEN GETTING A REFUND

Where a refund of the cost of the ticket is chosen and you are also entitled to compensation, the following compensation must be paid:

  • €250 per passenger for flights of 1,500km or less

  • €400 per passenger for intra-Community flights of 1,500 – 3,500km

  • €600 per passenger for all other flights


WHEN COMPENSATION ISN’T APPLICABLE FOR A CANCELLED FLIGHT


Instances where compensation isn’t applicable for a cancelled flight are outlined below:

  • You have received at least 2 weeks’ notice of the cancellation; or

  • You have received between 2 weeks and 7 days’ notice but you have been offered an alternative flight departing no more than 2 hours before your original departure time and arriving at your final destination less than 4 hours after your original scheduled time of arrival; or

  • You have received less than 7 days’ notice but you have been offered an alternative flight departing no more than 1 hour before your original departure time and arriving at your final destination less than 2 hours after your original scheduled time of arrival

  • If the airline can prove that the cancellation was caused by an extraordinary circumstance which could not have been avoided, even if all reasonable measures had been taken, no compensation is payable

Importantly though, a technical problem is not usually regarded as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’


COMPENSATION WHEN RE-ROUTED

When the choice is re-routing and you are entitled to compensation, the amount of compensation you are entitled to depends on the length of delay past your original planned arrival time as follows:

  • €125 per passenger for flights of 1,500km or less for a delay of 2 hours or less

  • €250 per passenger for flights of 1,500km or less for a delay of more than 2 hours

  • €200 per passenger for flights of over 1,500km within the EU and other flights between 1,500 and 3,500km for a delay of 3 hours or less

  • €400 per passenger for flights of over 1,500km within the EU and other flights between 1,500 and 3,500km for a delay of more than 3 hours

  • €300 per passenger for all other flights for a delay of 4 hours or less

  • €600 per passenger for all other flights for a delay of more than 4 hours


WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR FLIGHT IS DELAYED?

If the flight is delayed at least 5 hours, you must be offered a refund of your ticket instead of flying.


Whether a delayed flight comes within the terms of the law depends upon the distance of the route involved and the length of the delay. The following flights are covered by the law:

  • Delays of 2 hours or more in the case of flights of 1500 km or less

  • Delays of 3 hours or more in the case of all flights within the EU of more than 1500 km, and of all other flights between 1500 and 3500 km

  • Delays of 4 hours or more in the case of all other flights


ASSISTANCE AT THE AIRPORT

The airline has a duty of care to provide you with food and phone calls and, if you are delayed overnight, accommodation expenses, provided the delay exceeds two hours for short-haul flights or four for long-haul. In all instances keep your receipts and claim back at a later date if the airline hasn’t provided the above.


HOW TO MAKE A COMPLAINT?

In the first instance always contact the airline first and have a paper trail as proof. If the airline does not resolve your complaint, you should send it to the Commission for Aviation Regulation which is Ireland’s national enforcement body in Ireland.


It deals with complaints arising from flights departing from Irish airports or those arriving at an Irish airport from outside the EU/EEA on an EUEEA-licensed carrier. You can make a complaint online here.


Note: The above information was sourced from Citizens Information. Click here to read more.