‘Flight cancelled’, the last two words anyone wants to hear. Here’s what to do and how to deal with other travel dilemmas
from overbooked to delayed or cancelled flights as well as lost baggage – these are just some of the airport nightmares that can turn your holiday happiness into a vexing vacation.
While (we hope) all airlines are guided by the principles of fair customer treatment, carriers can sometimes be evasive when it comes to informing passengers of their rights.
So what are the things to bear in mind the next time you find yourself stranded and scrambling for answers at the airport?
Passenger entitlements may vary based on various factors such as circumstances, the country your airline is based in, point of origin and destination, regulating bodies and international conventions that cover specific locations.
Based on the European Union flight regulations, passengers booked with an EU airline or any carriers bound to and from an EU airport, who are facing flight delays are entitled to meals, refreshments and access to telephone, email or fax services.
For long delays (four hours or more), particularly when the replacement flight is scheduled to depart the next day, passengers are entitled to hotel accommodation with transport.
Etihad Airways states on its website that passengers who are denied boarding and whose flights are delayed or cancelled – both under certain conditions – are eligible for monetary compensation between €400 (AED 1,700) to €600 (AED 2,600). Compensation rules vary outside of the EU depending on the legal jurisdiction. Airlines will provide their denied boarding compensation policy on request.
The mentioned amounts can be reduced by 50 percent if the airline manages to find an alternative flight not exceeding the scheduled arrival time of the original flight booked.
Furthermore, if a flight is delayed by at least five hours the passenger can opt not to travel anymore and instead be reimbursed a certain amount based on conditions set by the airlines.
A passenger can claim compensation for delayed or cancelled flights from years ago – make sure to check with airline rules before filing for reimbursement.
In the UK, passengers can claim for flight compensation dating back six years. This is why passengers are advised to keep all receipts and transaction records for claim references.
Keep in mind, however, that the airline can refuse to pay out compensation under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ such as political instability, weather disruption, labour disputes and safety and security reasons.
Always check the fine print of your ticket and familiarise yourself with the airline policies to be certain.
In instances of baggage being lost, damaged or destroyed, passengers are protected by stipulations under the Warsaw Convention and Montreal Convention.
Misplaced bags are one of the major and common issues encountered by travellers, with a study showing that airlines lose over 2,600 bags every hour of every day, globally.
Passengers are entitled to compensation for lost bags although the amount may vary depending too on factors like the origin and destination of the flight.
A higher amount might be given if the passenger paid any additional fees upon check-in of the luggage.
When seeking compensation, a passenger must immediately write and notify the airline of the complaint complete with list and description of the bag’s content and tags as provided during check-in for proper verification.
For peace of mind, make sure to get travel insurance to protect yourself against such inconveniences.
Nowadays, the process has become rather straightforward and can be tailor-made to meet your specific demands and can even include certain situations not covered by the airline.
David Harris, director of distribution for RSA in UAE and Bahrain, said: “If the plane departure is delayed due to strikes, bad weather or mechanical breakdown for more than a certain number of hours from the scheduled time of departure, your insurance policy may compensate you for each additional hour that the flight has not taken off.”
He continued, “RSA Insurance has a time limit of six hours from your original scheduled time of departure after which an amount of $100 (AED 367) will be paid to you. For each additional six hours your departure is delayed, we will pay you an amount up to the maximum amount as specified in the policy.”
“It’s important to speak to the insurer when purchasing the policy to understand the best cover depending on your needs and journey requirements.
“This will also ensure that you understand what are the insurance inclusions and non-inclusions, and the things that only the airline can answer for as per certain situations.”
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez