If your flight has been delayed or cancelled and you want to make sure that you have the best chance of receiving compensation, these are our most important recommendations:
1. If your flight is delayed, do not book a different flight on your own
This is not a well-known fact but if a passenger, for whichever reason, decides to give up and not travel on the delayed flight and proceeds to book a different one, said passenger loses the right to claim compensation for the original delay. Regulation EC 261/2004 is very clear about it and, unfortunately, it’s just the way it goes.
Deciding not to fly when the airline is still “able”, although delayed, to provide the service you’ve contracted will be interpreted as the passenger effectively cancelling the agreed terms and contracted obligations when buying the ticket. This results in the airline being exempt from any obligation it may have had with the passenger, including paying compensation in case of a lengthy delay.
The reason why you have decided not to fly won’t be relevant when it comes to paying compensation for the delay. If you had to book a different flight due to health reasons, a very important business meeting or a family event, it is all irrelevant for the airline. According to the European regulation, passengers that give up a flight and book a new one at their own expense, do so knowing that they will not be entitled to either the reimbursement of the original ticket or the possible compensation awarded for a delay.
Check your flight for free here and find out if you are entitled to compensation
2. Don’t settle unless you are certain that the offer is better than the compensation that you are owed for your flight’s delay or cancellation.
It’s not easy to stay informed on all the changes and little details regarding European regulations and passenger rights. Therefore, when your flight has been cancelled or delayed it is always advisable for passengers to rely on the expertise and knowledge of specialised assistance services. Claim agencies, such as Flight-Delayed, will assist you with the whole process and ensure that you receive the correct amount of monetary compensation.
When airlines offer passengers a different type of settlement, be it travel vouchers or something similar, for a flight’s delay or cancellation, they generally aim to resolve the case without honouring what is established in the regulation. Saving some money in the meantime. Travel vouchers, for example, ensure that the money will stay within the infringing company and they will have an expiration date, so you might not even use them. Both scenarios are a great win for the airline, especially if your voucher doesn’t even cover the amount you were owed, to begin with. Furthermore, once you’ve accepted a settlement it is almost impossible to claim the compensation established by law.
3. Keep the evidence of your flight’s delay or cancellation
Disregarding which type of disruption they’ve gone through, passengers need to know that most airlines will require proof of contract. If you are unable to provide a boarding pass, e-ticket or booking confirmation, some airlines will refuse to pay the compensation you may be entitled to receive. In extreme cases, if you do not have your reservation/booking reference number you won’t be allowed to claim compensation or ask for the reimbursement of your cancelled flight. Be careful and always keep copies of your travel related documents!
Often, a booking confirmation is not enough. Some airlines are known for asking for the corresponding boarding passes as proof that you were on-time when arriving at the airport or that you were actually travelling on the disrupted flight. Airlines are making the process of claiming compensation more complicated and difficult for passengers, this includes dubious tactics like arguing that there is no record that certain passengers were on the flight. If you do not have sufficient evidence, you risk losing your right to receive compensation!
It is also very important to mention that if you have incurred in additional expenses because of your flight’s disruption, you must keep all the itemised receipts in order to get those costs reimbursed. Without proof for the fact that you’ve had to buy your own meals and book your own accommodation due to a flight disruption, airlines will never pay back this extra costs.
4. Check in on time, even if you know that your flight has been delayed
It happens quite often, one arrives at the airport just to see it on the screen: your flight has been delayed for at least 3 hours. After stressing out to be on time at the counter, you might be tempted to go back to the city centre or maybe grab a cup of coffee with a friend. They’re all great ideas, but remember to first check in on-time. Disregarding what has happened and no matter what has been displayed on the screen, passengers must be on-time at the check-in counter in order to be included in the passenger list. The airline is still allowed to close the check-in for a flight at the time originally established, even if it has been delayed. So not checking in could result in you being denied boarding at the gate because you are not on the passenger list.
If you have been denied boarding because you were not on-time at the check-in counter, then you won’t be entitled to compensation. Even if your flight has been delayed for more than 3 hours.
5. If you’re flying with a special fare, you are not entitled to compensation
One last important thing to know when it comes to claiming compensation. If you are travelling for free or at a reduced fare not accessible to the general public (family fares for airline workers, if you’ve won a trip through an airline’s contest, etc.) you are not entitled to compensation for a flight delay or cancellation.
A quick recap
These are some of the most important tips we can give passengers around Europe. The most important thing is to remember that your rights are protected and that we can help you enforce them! Here’s a quick recap of our tips:
- Don’t book a different flight if your flight has been delayed
- Don’t settle or accept travel vouchers (unless you’re certain it’s a better offer)
- Keep your travel documents and itemised receipts
- Always check in on time, even if your flight has been delayed
- You’re not entitled to compensation if you were travelling with a reduced fare
- Get professional legal assistance
We can help you with the last point. Even if your claim has been rejected already, we can review the circumstances and asses if you have been wrongfully denied compensation for your flight’s delay or cancellation. You can check your flight for free and decide if you wish to submit your claim with Flight-Delayed. Best of all, our 25% win fee will cover all the possible costs associated with enforcing your rights!