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Flying in the EU? Know Your Passengers’ Bill of Rights

EU261: Understanding Your Passengers’ Bill of Rights

Air travel can be a convenient and fast mode of transportation, but it can be frustrating when things go wrong. Delayed flights, canceled bookings, or denied boarding disrupts travel plans and can lead to real inconveniences.

Fortunately, there’s a solution for travelers in Europe, thanks to the European Union’s regulation known as EU261. EU261 is a set of regulations that provide compensation and assistance to passengers travelling within the EU territory and for flights departing from the EU, regardless of the airline carrier.

It is also famously known as the Passengers’ Bill of Rights. This article aims to educate readers about the provisions of EU261, eligibility criteria, and the circumstances it covers.

Definition and Purpose of EU261

EU261 applies to passengers who are flying within the EU or flying from an EU airport, regardless of the airline carrier. It guarantees the rights to compensation, reimbursement, re-routing, and assistance during flight disruptions.

It also requires airlines to inform passengers of their rights in the event of such disruptions. The objective of EU261 is to ensure that airlines and airports are held accountable for flight disruptions that are beyond travelers’ control, and compensate passengers accordingly.

EU261 is also meant to improve passenger experience, reduce flight cancellations and delays, and encourage airlines and airports to prioritize their customers’ needs.

Eligibility Criteria for EU261

EU261 applies to passengers who have a confirmed booking for their flight. Passengers who have not yet booked their flight are not covered by the regulation.

Furthermore, EU261 does not apply to flights originating from a non-EU airport and arriving in an EU airport that are not operated by an airline governed by EU laws. Passengers who are denied boarding, have cancellations or delays of more than three hours are eligible for compensation under EU261.

Compensation consists of a refund of the ticket cost, a reroute to the final destination, or reimbursement of additional expenses incurred due to the delay or cancellation.

Coverage Under EU261

EU261 covers all flights departing from EU airports regardless of the final destination and all flights departing from non-EU countries to EU airports. Additionally, flights that are operated by EU-based airlines from non-EU airports to non-EU countries are also covered by the regulation.

A code-share flight is a flight that is marketed and sold by one airline, but is operated by another airline. If the code-share flight is operated by an EU-based airline, it is covered by EU261.

Circumstances Covered by EU261

Extraordinary Circumstances

EU261 does not apply when the flight disruption is due to an extraordinary circumstance that is beyond the control of the airline. Examples of extraordinary circumstances include political instability, war or sabotage, weather events such as volcanic eruptions, or terrorist activity.

In addition to these circumstances, the 737-MAX groundings in 2019 and 2020 may also be classified as an extraordinary event. Even though it was not a natural event or political crisis, EU regulators classified the aircraft groundings as an extraordinary event that was outside the control of the airline industry.

Late Check-in

If a passenger is denied boarding because they checked in late, EU261 does not apply. Airlines have a check-in deadline that passengers must adhere to, and if a passenger fails to comply with this deadline, they are not eligible for compensation under EU261.

Flying on a Not-Publicly-Available Fare

If a passenger books a flight on a not-publicly-available fare, then they are not eligible for compensation or assistance under EU261. This is because fares that are not publicly available may be offered by third-party travel agencies or may be negotiated contracts for corporate customers with the airline.

Therefore, these privately-negotiated fares do not fall under the purview of EU261.

In Conclusion

EU261 is a regulation that protects passenger rights, guarantees compensation in case of flight disruptions, and ensures that airlines and airports are accountable. It applies to all flights departing from EU airports, all flights departing from non-EU countries to EU airports, and code-share flights operated by EU-based airlines from non-EU airports to non-EU countries.

While EU261 cannot offer complete solutions for all flight disruptions in Europe, it is a step towards creating a fair and transparent aviation industry. Passengers who are informed about their rights under EU261 can take informed steps to ensure that airlines respect their rights when a flight disruption occurs.

Compensation Under EU261

Air travel is not always a smooth process. Flight disruptions such as delays, cancellations, and denied boarding can be frustrating experiences that often result in missed connections, ruined travel plans, and some lost time.

Fortunately, EU261 provides a solution for travelers in the form of compensation in the event of such disruptions. In this article, we’ll examine the categories of flights and compensation affected by EU261, the role of arrival time in earning compensation, and the compensation conditions for flight cancellations.

Additionally, we’ll provide actionable information on how to file an EU261 claim.

Categories of Flights and Compensation

EU261 covers flights based on the distance flown. The regulation categorizes flights into three groups: short-haul, medium-haul, and long-haul.

Short-haul flights refer to those under 1,500 km, medium-haul flights refer to those between 1,500 km and 3,500 km, and long-haul flights are those that exceed 3,500 km.

Compensation for short-haul flights that incur a delay, denied boarding, or cancellation, is 250.

For medium-haul flights, the amounts rise to 400, while for long-haul flights, compensation is 600. In the event that an airline reroutes you, the compensation amounts may be reduced by 50%.

If a passenger chooses not to board on the rerouted flight offered by the airline, then they forfeit any compensation entitled under EU261.

Arrival Time Factor

The compensation amount received for a flight delay is dependent on the length of time you are delayed at your final destination. In other words, the time lost at your destination due to a delayed flight, and not the duration of the delay itself, determines your compensation.

For delayed flights of two hours or longer on short-haul flights, three hours or longer on medium-haul, and four hours or more on a long-haul flight, passengers may be eligible to claim compensation. The compensation awarded is 25% of the ticket price for a delay of between two and three hours, 50% for delays ranging from three to four hours and 100% for those over four hours.

Flight Cancellation Compensation

In the case of flight cancellations, the compensation received is similar to that of a delayed flight; however, it depends on other factors such as when you were informed of the cancellation and the cause of the cancellation. In addition to the compensation, passengers are entitled to a refund of their ticket cost or re-routing on an alternative flight.

If the airline provides you with more than 14 days notice, you are not eligible for compensation. If you receive a notice less than two weeks, you must receive a reroute or a refund.

Even with less than 14 days’ notice, in some cases, the airlines may offer alternative flights within a 2-hour time slot to that of the original flight, which avoids paying compensation to passengers. However, if the cancellation occurred due to extraordinary circumstances, such as a natural or political disaster that was not reasonably under the control of the airline, passengers are likely to receive no compensation.

The airlines must provide alternatives if possible and, in such cases, passengers can still request a refund.

Filing a Claim

Making an EU261 claim is the legal right of passengers in the EU when they experience flight disruptions. Although, Though making a claim may not be straightforward, the process is designed to protect passengers.

Here is what you need to know while filing a claim:

How to file a claim

You can file a claim through the airline’s customer service department, either online, through a physical office, email, or postal service. The deadline for filing an EU261 claim is dependent on where your airline is based.

If it is based in the EU, you have a three-year deadline to file the claim, but if it is based outside the EU, the timeframe may be shorter.

You may submit the claim to the airline or the national enforcement body that governs the airport in which the disruption occurred.

There are exceptions, such as when the airline operates within a different EU country’s territory. In that case, you’ll have to file the claim with the national enforcement body of the airline’s home country.

Best practices when filing a claim

To ensure a smooth claim process, it is recommended to maintain clear and organized records of the flight, booking information, boarding passes, receipts, or any other relevant documents. Providing all required information about the flight, the passengers, and the nature of the disruption will speed up the process.

Also, keeping lines of communication open between you and the airline’s customer service will help to clarify any issues that may arise during the claim process. In some cases, it might be beneficial to use a claim management service who can handle the legal process on the passengers’ behalf.

Such companies often have a better understanding of the regulations and more experience dealing with airlines and can help passengers navigate the process.

In conclusion

EU261 provides a set of rights for air passengers in case of unavoidable flight disruptions. Understanding the categories of flights and compensation covered, the role of arrival time in earning compensation, the compensation conditions for flight cancellations, and how to file a claim will help you optimize your claim experience.

If a passenger encounters a flight disruption with a covered flight, it is recommended to understand their rights and file a claim appropriately. Receiving

Compensation Under EU261

In the previous sections, we discussed the different categories of flights and compensation, the role of arrival time in earning compensation, the compensation conditions for flight cancellations, and how to file an EU261 claim.

In this section, we will look at the different forms of compensation available under EU261, as well as the pros and cons of these regulations.

Forms of Compensation

EU261 lays down strict rules on how airlines should compensate passengers in case of flight disruptions. Here are the available forms of compensation:

Cash Payment

If you prefer a cash payout, this is one of the most direct methods to receive your compensation. Airlines are required to provide passengers with cash payments for compensation within seven days of the passenger’s flight disruption.

The regulations require airlines to provide a cheque or a bank transfer directly to the passenger.

Electronic Bank Transfer

Airlines may also directly transfer compensation into your bank account. In this case, passengers are required to provide their bank details to the airline.

This method is efficient and secure, as banks are regulated and have sophisticated security measures in place.

Bank Orders

A bank order or bank check is another option for receiving compensation. It is a paper instrument issued by the bank that operates as a payment mechanism, and it is accepted at a bank or financial institution.

When passengers receive a bank order, they can cash it directly at their bank.

Travel Vouchers

Airlines may also offer compensation in the form of travel vouchers. These vouchers can be used for future travel with that airline.

However, it is important to note that travel vouchers are not always the best option for passengers who prefer cash payments. If additional compensation is due to passengers outside of EU261, such as for meal expenses or an overnight stay, travel vouchers may not be sufficient.

Service

In some cases, airlines can provide compensation in the form of a service, such as lounge access or a more upscale airline ticket. However, it is important to note that these services do not constitute a cash payment.

Passengers should carefully consider whether this form of compensation is equivalent to the amount due under EU261 before accepting the offer.

Pros and

Cons of EU261

EU261 provides significant benefits and protections to air travelers. Passengers who experience flight disruptions caused by the airline are entitled to compensation, refunds, and assistance.

While it is a positive regulation, there are some pros and cons to note for EU261.

Benefits

EU261 provides travelers with the assurance that airlines are accountable for flight disruptions, and hence, they provide the necessary help, refund, rerouting, and reimbursement. Passengers can claim compensation based on the length of the delay, the category of flight or the distance flown, which provides an objective measure of the potential compensation amount.

Credit Card

Benefits

EU261 can align with other benefits related to air travel, including those offered by credit card companies. These benefits may include travel insurance, rental car insurance, and lounge access.

This extra protection can be beneficial to passengers who travel frequently and may be exposed to potential flight disruptions.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance policies often cover lost luggage, trip cancellation, and any medical issues. With EU261 regulations covering flight disruptions and travel insurance covering other risks, air travelers are better protected on their journey.

Cons

Although EU261 provides protection and support for passengers during flight disruptions, there are still some drawbacks. EU261 does not cover other out-of-pocket expenses, such as missed meetings or non-refundable hotel bookings.

As such, passengers should take the time to consider any other aspect of their travel journey that could be impacted by a flight disruption.

In conclusion

EU261 provides clear guidance and strong regulations to protect passengers in the case of flight disruptions. It is essential that travelers understand these regulations to claim compensation and get help should an unexpected disruption occur.

Overall, EU261 has a positive impact on air travel, but passengers should be aware of the regulation’s limitations to manage their expectations and prepare for unexpected events.

In conclusion, EU261 is a set of regulations that protect air travelers in the EU and passengers flying from EU airports by providing them with compensation, reimbursement, re-routing, and assistance during flight disruptions. It covers all flights departing from EU airports and all flights departing from non-EU countries to EU airports.

The categories of flights and compensation, the role of arrival time in earning compensation, and the compensation conditions for flight cancellations have been discussed. Previous sections also covered how to file a claim, the available forms of compensation, and the pros and cons of EU261.

It is essential for air travelers to be informed of their rights under EU261 to claim compensation and receive the help they deserve during flight disruptions.

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