This post is also available in: Italiano
Flight delays are now a reality that we must accept. With so many airlines and countless departures to various destinations, it is normal to experience flight interruptions. However, although companies sometimes have valid excuses for their flight issues, it is often their fault for what happens. If the airline is at fault for the flight delay or cancellation you had to put up with, the law is on your side and gives you the right to claim compensation.
If you want to know exactly which law we are talking about, remember that this is the EC Regulation No. 261/2004. Based on this regulation, which is valid both in European countries and in non-EU countries, if the airline operating the flight in question is European, the maximum compensation that air passengers can get is € 600 and the minimum is € 250. The compensation’s value is calculated based on the distance as follows:
- € 600 if the distance is more than 3500 km
- € 400 if the distance is between 3500 km and 1500 km
- € 250 if the distance is less than 1500 km
In order to get compensated by the airline, the passenger must submit a written request. Although in some countries the maximum limit for submitting this request is 6 years (for example in England), in others, the deadline is only one year (Belgium, Poland). For this reason, it is always better to act soon so that you can be sure that you still have the right to claim.
The claim for compensation must be accompanied by a physical proof that the passenger had a reservation for the problematic flight. Therefore, it is important to keep the flight ticket if you want to make a complaint. Alternatively, you can also submit as proof the booking confirmation that the airline has sent you via email once you booked the ticket.
If you decide to claim on your own, you can find free examples of online claim letters, like this letter made available by Claim Flights. If, on the other hand, you choose to claim compensation through a claim company, you will have to fill in an online form on the website of the company you have chosen. It takes a few minutes to complete the form. Except for your personal and contact information, you will also need to provide the number and date of the flight, the reason for the cancellation/delay (if the airline offered you any explanation) and the approximate duration of the delay.
Claim Flights experts who manage their claims based on such an online system warn that passengers must understand how the flight delay is calculated, that is, based on the time when the plane lands. In other words, if you have been waiting for hours at the airport, or on the plane before departing, but the plane eventually arrived at the destination with a delay of fewer than 3 hours, you are not entitled to compensation. So, the first thing to pay attention to is the exact time when the plane lands.
Moreover, it is important to know that you will lose your right to claim for compensation if you accept a voucher offered on the spot by the airline. This is a common strategy that air carriers use in order to reduce their costs. Therefore if you are the departure airport and the airline staff tells you that your flight will be cancelled or delayed, but for the damage caused, they offer a voucher, it is better to refuse it. Usually, the value of the voucher is less than the value of the potential compensation.
However, the company must offer you meals, free drinks and access to e-mail, fax or telephone if you are stranded at the departure airport for more than 2 hours. This is called right to assistance and it has nothing to do with the compensation provided by the Regulation 261/2004., This type of assistance must be provided, and you can accept it as it will have no impact on your right to claim.
Once the passengers know their plane has been cancelled or see that the departure time is postponed and it is possible to arrive at the final destination with a delay of more than 3 hours, they should collect evidence that can be useful during the claim process. Such evidence includes photos of the departure board where the delay is indicated, any e-mails or messages sent by the company regarding the flight change, even the contact details of the other passengers can be useful as they can be used if the claim gets to court. From a legal point of view, all you need to be able to make a claim is the proof of booking. However, the aforementioned evidence is very useful in supporting a valid claim.
Finally, every passenger who has decided to make a claim to obtain compensation from an airline under the Regulation 261/2004, must understand that it takes time to finalize the procedure. Generally, it takes about 3 months just to receive a reply from the company in question. If the answer is negative and the reason that caused the flight problem is related to extraordinary circumstances (such as strikes, security problems or cases of force majeure), the passenger is not entitled to compensation. Many times, however, it is possible that the companies use “extraordinary circumstances” as a pretext to avoid paying the compensation due. If this is the case, the passenger has two choices. They can either give up or go to court against the company.
To find a lawyer, you don’t necessarily have to make a financial effort. Claim Flights experts explain that their lawyers work on a “no win – no fee” basis. So, they will represent you for free and you will pay only at the end of the process if they are able to get compensation for you.
If your plane has been cancelled or delayed for more than 3 hours, there is no reason to avoid making a claim, either on your own or with the help of a company like Claim Flights. There is nothing to lose, only chances to win.