What are your rights to a refund if an airline cancels your flight before you are due to go on the trip?
Thousands of expats face this dilemma as budget airline Ryanair axes thousands of flights due to pilot rostering problems.
The issue is not as rare as most expats other than frequent flyers may believe.
According to aviation monitor flightstats.com, thousands of flights a day are delayed or cancelled.
During the week ending October 27, 2,130 flights were cancelled and another 31,378 faced delays.
What you can claim for grounded flights
If a flight is cancelled by the airline for any reason, passengers are entitled to a full refund.
In most cases. The airline will try to transfer you to an alternative flight, but you do not have to accept the switch and can claim compensation.
If European flights are cancelled, if an airline cannot rebook the flight within a ‘reasonable time’, you can demand a booking on another carrier at no extra cost.
Claiming compensation is tightly regulated across Europe and how much you get depends on several factors.
- If the booking is changed more than 14 days before scheduled take-off, it’s unlikely a compensation claim will be honoured;
- If the airline rebooks you with less than 14 days before your flight date and the rebooked flight is four or more hours later than the original booking, you can claim 250 euros for flights of less than 1,500km, rising to 400 euros for longer trips;
- For flights cancelled with notice of less than seven days, a rebooked flight of less than 1,500km arriving two or more hours later than the original booking collects 250 euros compensation, while this goes up to 400 euros for one three hours late over 1,500km
Don’t forget the airline has to be at fault for the cancellation and the compensation is for each passenger, not for two or more passengers travelling together.
If you are not keen to tackle the airline, claim management firms will do the job for you, but will take a slice of the refunded money – typically up to 30% of the award on a no-win, no fee contract.