Le European regulation 261/2004, also known as the Air Passenger Rights Regulation, is key European Union legislation aimed at protecting the rights of passengers traveling within the EU. It covers a wide range of situations, including delays, cancellations, denied boarding and baggage incidents. The main objective of this regulation is to ensure that air passengers are treated fairly and receive appropriate compensation in the event of disruptions to their flights. Here is an overview of the rights you can exercise with airlines:
Right to a refund or re-routing in the event of cancellation
If your flight is canceled, the airline must offer you two options: either a full refund of your plane ticket, or re-routing to your final destination as soon as possible, under conditions similar to those provided for in your original ticket. Additionally, you are usually entitled to compensation if the cancellation is the airline's fault, unless they can prove it was due to exceptional circumstances.
Right to compensation in the event of flight delay
If your flight is significantly delayed, you may be entitled to a delayed flight compensation, depending on the flight distance and the duration of the delay. The precise details vary depending on the situation, but in general, if your flight arrives at your destination three hours or more late, you may be eligible for compensation. However, it is essential to note that some exceptional circumstances fall outside of this rule, such as extreme weather conditions.
Right to compensation in the event of denied boarding
If the airline refuses you boarding on a booked flight, it must offer you compensation. The amount of this compensation varies depending on the distance of the flight and can go up to 600 euros. However, there are exceptions, including if the airline offers you an acceptable alternative and the denial of boarding is due to exceptional circumstances.
Right to compensation in the event of a baggage problem
If your baggage is lost, damaged or delayed during your flight, the airline is required to compensate you. You must report any baggage-related problem to the airline as soon as you become aware of it and file a claim within the time limits provided. Compensation amounts vary depending on the type of problem and the value of the damaged or lost property.
Right to information and assistance
When you travel by plane within the EU and your flight is delayed, canceled or denied boarding, the airline has an obligation to inform you of your rights. You have the right to appropriate assistance, which may include the provision of meals and drinks, accommodation if necessary, as well as means of communication to stay in touch with your loved ones or organize the rest of your trip.
European Regulation 261/2004 lists certain exceptional circumstances in which the airline is not obliged to pay compensation. These circumstances generally include unpredictable and uncontrollable events such as airline staff strikes, extreme weather conditions, security threats, etc. In such cases, the airline must still provide appropriate assistance to passengers, but is not required to pay compensation.
If you believe that your rights as an air passenger have been violated, you have the right to file a complaint with the airline concerned. You can do this by filling out a complaint form provided by the company or sending a letter detailing your problem. Make sure you keep all relevant evidence, such as receipts, plane tickets, travel documents, etc.
Alternatively, if the task seems laborious, make your life easier by using a service provider like AirHelp who specializes in air passenger compensation. You can check the amount you are eligible for on their site.
Air passenger rights beyond the EU
It is essential to note that air passenger rights are not limited to the European Union. Many countries have implemented their own regulations to protect the rights of air passengers. Therefore, even if you are traveling outside the EU, it is recommended that you familiarize yourself with local laws and regulations to know how you can be protected should anything go wrong during your air travel.
In summary, European Regulation 261/2004 constitutes a major step forward in protecting the rights of air passengers.