After eighteen months of being grounded, travelers are keen to return to the skies. As demand reaches pre-pandemic numbers, passengers are experiencing a wave of delayed and canceled flights. So why are more flights being canceled, and what rights do fliers have to compensation?
- Customers can claim a full refund for the cost of their airfare or a seat on the airline's next flight.
- If the airline cannot provide a suitable flight, the consumer is entitled to alternative transportation, including flying with a competitor. If this is more expensive than the original ticket, the airline must cover the fare difference. If you cannot find a suitable solution, you have the right to a full refund. In the case of multi-leg journeys, you are entitled to a free flight back to your city of origin if you prefer to curtail your trip after your connecting flight is canceled.
- When delayed for 3 hours or more, travelers can apply for compensation ranging between 200 to 600 euros depending on the length of their flight. The longer the journey to their final destination, the more passengers receive for their inconvenience. To save themselves from the stress of filling out tons of legal forms, passengers can use AirHelp or ClaimCompass to claim compensation from the airline.
- Airline passengers can also be reimbursed if their flight's arrival time is delayed by over two hours within two weeks of their scheduled departure date.
As compensation is already fairly generous, European laws tend to be a little vague about compensating customers for meals or accommodation expenses accrued due to a delay or cancellation. Usually, the understanding is that this comes under the financial compensation offered, but some airlines will provide meal vouchers to spend in the airport as a gesture of goodwill. It is worth noting that flights canceled due to COVID-19 are not currently eligible for extra compensation, but consumers still maintain their rights to a full refund.