All those who travel by plane, for work reasons or when they go on vacation, know that there can always be unexpected events, such as cancellation of a flight, prolonged flight delay or failure to return baggage upon arrival.
In these cases, European and international air transport legislation provides for different forms of protection of the passenger, who obviously has the right to receive assistance from the airline and at the same time to be compensated where a breach occurs.
The essential aspects of this legislation are summarized in the Passenger Rights Charter, drawn up by ENAC, the National Civil Aviation Authority, which explains the rights that rimborsovoli.it exercises to protect its users, ensuring the reimbursements due when they suffer air disruptions.
In the pages dedicated to our services we have indicated the remedies provided in the most common cases of inconvenience which are flight cancellation, flight delay, missed connection, overbooking, problems with baggage, lack of ground handling.
However, we believe that knowing the essential elements of the air transport legislation and the general rights envisaged, can help the passenger make informed choices from the moment of booking the flight and therefore before starting the journey.
Here is a summary of the main passengers rights and the respective obligations of the airlines:
- From the moment of booking (before purchase), the passenger has the right to know the costs, the flight duration and which carrier will operate the flight
- The airline is required to inform the passenger of the methods and times for carrying out the check-in operations
- In case of flight cancellation, flight delay or other inefficiencies, the airline must inform passengers about their rights and available alternative flights.
- The passenger has the right to always travel in safe conditions
- The airline is required to offer adequate assistance in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellation or prolonged delay
- Passengers with reduced mobility or with disabilities are entitled to special assistance
Right to refunds and compensation
- The passenger has the option to choose between a ticket refund and an alternative flight in case of flight cancellation
- The airline must compensate passengers economically in the event of failure to carry out the transport
- In the event of disruptions, there is no compensation protection when the passenger travels for free or at a reduced rate that is not accessible to the public
- Denied boarding cannot be compensated in case of health or safety reasons, invalid travel documents or when the passenger shows up at the check-in or at the gate after the scheduled time.
- The passenger is entitled to compensation if he is transferred by the airline on a flight other than the one booked.
To guarantee a high level of passenger protection, the European Union has introduced a series of protections and rights collected in a regulation called: EU Regulation no. 261/2004 of the European Parliament and the Council which establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellation or prolonged delay.
The main protection provided by this Regulation is a monetary compensation system which has the purpose, on the one hand, to indemnify passengers immediately for the loss of time that they suffer in the event of interruptions or delays in transport and, on the other hand, to induce the airline companies to take all appropriate measures to prevent such disruptions from occurring.
The cases of inconvenience, for which the economic compensation referred to in the “pecuniary compensation” regulation is envisaged, are:
- Flight delay (can be compensated when the flight reaches the arrival airport with at least three hours of delay)
- Flight cancellation (the flight is not operated and the company has informed the passenger with less than 14 days’ notice)
- Overbooking (the company denies boarding to the passenger due to lack of available seats)
- Missed connection (the passenger loses the second flight due to the cancellation or flight delay of the first flight)
In these cases, the compensation amount is calculated based on the length of the route and may exceed the price paid for the ticket:
- Short-haul flight (up to 1500 km): the established refund is 250 euros
- Medium-haul flight (up to 3500 km): the established refund is 400 euros
- Long-haul flight (over 3500 km): the established refund is 600 euros
However, be aware that the airline is not required to pay compensation when the inconvenience was caused by bad weather, a strike or in any case by exceptional events beyond its control and everything possible was done to avoid or contain the inconvenience for the passengers. If you have doubts about the causes of the cancellation or delay of your flight, do not be discouraged, the company will have to prove that it is exempted from the obligation to compensate you.
When does European law apply?
Passengers can request compensation from the airline within two years after the flight and when the inconvenience occurred on a flight (charter or scheduled):
- departing from an airport located in a member state of the European Union
- departing from an airport located in a non-EU country, if operated by a EU airline and bound for a European Union country
Extra EU flights
When the passenger travels on a flight departing from a non-EU country, he/she is protected by European legislation only if the flight is operated by an airline of a European country. When the flight is operated by a non-EU carrier, the passenger’s rights are those established by the legislation of the country that issued the flight license to the airline.
In any case, the Montreal Convention always applies which, in the event of flight delays or problems with baggage, allows the passenger to request damages from the airline.
Therefore, if you have had inconveniences with a flight departing from a non-European airport and operated by a non-European company, the monetary compensation is not due but you can always call the company into question for any damage suffered.
Documents to keep
In order to claim their rights in case of problems with a flight, the passengers must be provided with travel documents. Until the end of the reimbursement procedure the passenger must therefore carefully keep the flight ticket or a confirmation email. To be valid and usable, the travel document must contain the passenger’s name, the airport of departure and arrival, the flight times and the name of the airline. Although it is not a necessary document, the boarding pass is always useful for the purpose of the complaint and it would be better not to discard it.
Rimborsovoli.it is here for you
Offering clear and transparent information about your rights is the first commitment we make in defense of the passenger. But if you contact us, we can check if you are entitled to compensation and present a complaint to the airline, offering you a free service. Remember: only the airline pays our costs and we do not withhold any percentage of the refund you are entitled to.