My passenger rights in Germany and Europe
In 2016 European airports processed roughly 10 million flights in total. About 10 percent of those connections experienced flight delays with an average of approximately 17 minutes. While this does not sound like a huge number we should care about too much – one has to consider that this is just an average. While the majority of flight delays might have been even shorter, there has been also a huge number of late arrivals of several hours. And there are other problems these statistics don´t attribute for, such as flight cancellations and other reasons why passengers lose a flight such as overbooking. For many travelers this is kind of a worst-case scenario, leading not only to stress and disappointment but also to other consequences like financial damage of a different kind. This is where passenger rights are so become so important.
Fortunately, the EU Regulation for Passenger Rights holds airlines accountable for such incidences and forces them to compensate affected travelers with money and free services. While most people know about the existence of their passenger right in some way, the bureaucratic and procedural legal hurdles discourage them often from fighting for what they deserve by law. As airlines will probably won´t come up with generous compensations themselves, filing a proper compensation claim is key.
MYFLYRIGHT has specialized in helping travelers to get compensated to full extend. Especially some budget airlines that are operating at low cost might need a special treatment before they will pay out statutory compensations. As in many cases, travelers are unaware or unsure if they are entitled to some compensation, let´s have a look at the general rules.
The scope of application of the EU Regulation for Passenger Rights is wider as you might have expected. Those passenger rights do not only apply for connections within the European Union, but also to flights that come from outside EU territory if the operating airline itself is EU based. This means that if you are coming from Buenos Aires in Argentina to Lisbon in Portugal with Spanish airline IBERIA, your fly right is protected by EU legislation.
Those EU passenger rights even apply if you are leaving the EU flying to some other far away destination for non-EU registered airlines. This means that in an extreme case you might find yourself stranded at a smaller Asian airport. If you got there directly from EU territory you are protected as well, although the airline might want to make you believe differently.
The Scope of the EU Regulation for Passenger Rights
✈ If your flight is within the EU and is operated either by an EU or a non-EU airline.
✈ If your flight arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline.
✈ If your flight departs from the EU to a non-EU country operated by an EU or a non-EU airline.
Overbooking and flight cancellations
Overbooking happens when airlines sell more tickets for specific flights than they have seats available. This is a widespread strategy to counter no-show behavior of passengers that forfeit their tickets without cancellation. Airlines aim to operate at full capacity and use predictive systems for the expected no-show rate and sell some percentage of their tickets twice. While this is understandable to some extend it´s worth noting that the airlines themselves often don´t allow for changes of reservations or charge high fees. In combination with promotional cheap ticket sales that some people buy before even knowing if they will be able to travel, this causes a big portion of no-show cases.
If a flight is overbooked, the airline is required to ask for volunteers that, in exchange for a negotiable compensation are offered to leave their seat to other passengers. If this allocation of seats does not work out and some travelers are forced to stay on the ground, the responsible airlines have to pay for the caused damage based on a defined compensation scheme.
For flights up to 1 500 kilometers they need to pay 250 EUR, for flights within the EU of more than 1 500 kilometers and for all other flights between 1500 and 3 000 kilometers 400 EUR, and for all other flights 600 EUR (e.g. intercontinental flights).
Other compensation passenger rights: food, drinks, taxi and hotel-rooms
Those affected by overbooking, flight cancellations and longer flight delays are entitled to get some additional services at the expense of the responsible airline. Those include free meals and beverages at reasonable intervals, a hotel room if the passenger is forced to wait overnight or several days including free of charge taxi transfer to and from the hotel. In addition to that, they need to offer the affected traveler two phone calls, telex/ telefax or e-mail transfers free of charge.
While this might sound easy there are some cases in which it might be unclear what rules apply exactly. Imagine for example you miss a connection flight because of a previous delay because the gate you need to get to is on the other side of the airport.
The EU Regulation for Passenger Rights also regulates such scenarios and leaves the passenger the right to choose from three different options. A) A refund of the ticket cost for the remaining flight and free transfer to their travel origin. B) To get a free seat on the next available flight. C) Rebooking the remaining flight to a later date without extra charges.
If a delay takes more than three hours, passengers are also entitled to get a financial compensation. If the airline is, however, able to prove that the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances outside its responsibility, they might be able to decline such compensation claims. This, unfortunately, leaves some room for interpretation and insecurity among travelers. This is where we from MYFLYRIGHT come in to help you with our expertise and to get a proper compensation if you are entitled to.