What compensation are you entitled to if a flight is canceled this summer?

Passengers in an airport. / CR

Those affected will receive up to 600 euros as long as the airline does not relocate them on another plane that arrives less than two hours apart.

Edurne Martinez

The thousands of people affected by the nearly 400 cancellations of flights in the last month alone in Spain – the majority due to strikes at companies such as Ryanair or Easyjet – have the right to be relocated to other planes, but in some cases to compensation that unknown due to lack of information.

What is the official regulation?

European regulations are clear: passengers will be compensated in the event of flight cancellation. Article 7 of European Regulation 261/2004 establishes that those affected will receive compensation worth 250 euros for flights of up to 1,500 kilometers, 400 euros for those within the European Union (EU) between 1,500 and 3,000 km, and 600 euros for the rest of the flights. To this compensation must be added the refund of the full amount of the ticket in a maximum of seven days.

In addition, users may also claim any other type of damage, regardless of its nature, that they may have suffered as a result of the cancellation: hotels, rental vehicles, scheduled excursions, organized trips, connecting flights, etc. And even moral damages for having lost their vacations or part of them, among other possible assumptions, as confirmed by Facua.

And if the cancellation occurs in the hours before the departure of the flight, when the passengers are already at the airport, the compensation goes further. In these cases, article 9 of European regulations obliges airlines to offer those affected sufficient food and refreshments, accommodation in a hotel if necessary, and transfer from the airport to said hotel.

All this is extended to cases in which the flight is not canceled but suffers a delay of more than 3 hours compared to the scheduled arrival time. Expenses caused by late departure, such as meals, but also for missing excursions or rental vehicles, could also be claimed.

Are strikes exempt?

No. A judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) of April 2018 ruled that a workers' strike is not considered within the concept of 'extraordinary circumstances' that prevents airlines from having to compensate affected passengers, for what you have to answer financially.

"Consumers affected by a strike have the same rights before the cancellation of their flight as if it had been caused by a breakdown in the plane or poor planning in the company," explains Rubén Sánchez, general secretary of Facua. Thus, these passengers can claim to be relocated to another flight or to have their money returned if the new date set does not suit them, in addition to the money lost due to the situation and the financial compensation established by the European regulation.

From the OCU they confirm that the strikes "should not be considered as a cause of force majeure", as they are other circumstances that could not have been avoided even with reasonable measures, such as serious inclement weather that leaves the airline exempt from paying compensation in case cancellation or delay.

What exceptions are there?

There are a number of exceptions for which the airline is exempt from paying such financial compensation. They are divided into three cases:

-If the cancellation is reported more than two weeks before the departure of the flight.

-If it is reported between one and two weeks before the flight and an alternative transport is offered that allows reaching the final destination less than 4 hours later than expected.

-If informed less than a week in advance and an alternative flight is offered that allows reaching the destination less than 2 hours late.

If one of these assumptions occurs and the affected party does not receive the compensation established in European regulations, what they will always have the right to is a full refund of the ticket within a period of seven days if they are not convinced by the new option and to claim as damages and damages any other type of expenses derived from the cancellation of your flight, such as hotels, travel to the destination, connecting flights, etc.

Are there many claims?

According to the airlines that are canceling the most flights due to the strikes, “the impact is being minimal”, so they are not registering many claims. Easyjet sources explain that customers have been informed in advance and offered to rebook their flight or receive a refund. At Ryanair they also assure that they have been notified "in advance" and they have been proposed to change the dates, refund or relocate them. On the other hand, from the Flight Claim platform they verify that the strikes "are causing a large number of cancellations", which has increased the claims. From January to June they increased by 18% compared to 2019, but from June 1 to now – the strikes began at the end of that month – claims have grown by 141%.

Step by Step

The claim process starts in a similar way in case of cancellation, delay or if the passenger has been left on the ground due to lack of a seat ('overbooking'). Once the incident occurs, you must contact the airline directly, to see if you can be relocated to another flight or given an alternative. If this does not happen or if the alternative involves arriving at the destination more than 3 hours later than expected, you must proceed to claim, in the case of Spain on the Aena website.

The most important thing, say the consumer associations, is to keep all possible documentation and all receipts of payments not recovered at the destination of excursions, hotels, etc., as well as expenses associated with the cancellation or delay of the flight such as meal tickets or drink at the airport.

Interior must return the amount of the ticket if the plane is lost due to delays in the controls

For a few weeks the situation of passport control at airports "has improved a lot", according to sources from ALA, the Airline Association. All thanks to the police reinforcement that began to work from the end of May, after several airlines denounced the collapse of these controls that have to check the documentation of tourists who go to or arrive from third countries, such as the United Kingdom since the 'brexit' .

And although the situation is no longer so chaotic, occasional delays in these controls may continue to occur, something that may mean losing the connection to another flight for some passengers. From the Facua association they explain that you can claim from the Ministry of the Interior -as responsible for these controls- the loss of flights, as well as any other extra expenses such as accommodation, connecting flight, meals, etc.

Facua recommends providing all possible evidence to show that the delay was due to the queues and that the passenger had come with sufficient time to make the stopover. In case of missed flight, it is better to file the complaint at the airport asking for a claim form and providing all the documentation.

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