Getting stranded in the airport is one inconvenience you would want to avoid at all cost. Imagine missing your connecting flight or a very important appointment. Unfortunately, inclement weather, security issues, maintenance problems, congestion in air traffic and air glitches can happen delaying or even cancelling your flight.
Delays and cancelled flights can also cause stranded passengers personal difficulties and extra costs especially if the airline will deny its passengers hotel, food and other forms of assistance. This makes it important that the travelling public knows about their rights. In the article “Stranded at the airport: What do the airlines owe passengers? Tips for the Road,” passengers get some idea about the airlines’ responsibilities to their passengers in case of flight delays and cancellations. Some interesting pints in the article are:
- The government doesn’t require airlines to compensate travelers for delayed or canceled flights. Only if you’re bumped from an oversold flight does the government mandate compensation …
- Many airlines do, however, provide compensation for meals and hotel stays for cancellations – but usually only if the delay or cancellation is caused by the airline itself. Weather doesn’t count!
- You can find a specific airline’s policy in its Contract of Carriage (do an Internet search for “contract of carriage” plus the name of the airline and it should come up).
- In United’s case, the contract of carriage clearly states that no compensation is required “when such interruption is due to circumstances outside UA’s control.”
- For delays that are the fault of the airline: United will provide one night’s lodging, as well as meals, for delays expected to exceed four hours between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
United Airlines and American Airlines have almost similar policies such as allowing hotel and food vouchers even when the delay is not the airline’s fault. Note too that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is not the right agency that governs these things. Rather, it is the Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
In cases like these, it helps if passengers know their rights. Do you know that if you have a Europe package holiday or you are stranded in a European airport you should be provided accommodation and compensation so as not to breach EU law? Learn about the “Rights of stranded airline passengers” in UK from this article posted in Derby Solicitors – Consumer Rights Section.
… Under EU law airlines have a duty of care to look after stranded passengers, even if cancellations are due to circumstances out of their control.
If your airline has left you stranded and out of pocket, then you will need to keep a record of what you have spent, including receipts and try to reclaim them from your airline.
Regulation (EC) 261/2004 requires airlines to offer you meals, refreshments and hotel accommodation as appropriate whilst you wait for a rearranged flight. They should also cover any transport costs between the hotel and the airport. There is no time or monetary limits on the provision of this assistance.
If your airline has failed to provide help, and you have had to arrange alternatives yourself, keep your expenditure to a minimum, make sure you get receipts and claim reimbursement from your airline when you get home.
Airlines must pay passengers up to a maximum figure of €600 in compensation if flights are cancelled or badly delayed, unless the situation has been caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.’
The article explained how passengers can reclaim their expenditures incurred during the flight delay or cancellation. It instructs passengers to start the claim by writing a letter to the concerned airline citing the EU regulations and the airlines’ responsibilities. All those receipts you kept for accommodations, food, etc. can be attached to this letter. There is even a sample letter to guide you. You can specifically cite:
“Regulation (EC) 261/2004 Article 5 you are entitled to be reimbursed or re-routed under Article 8 and also offered assistance, including accommodation, meals and transport under Article 9; and that whilst under Article 5, airlines are not liable for compensation in accordance with article 7 in the case of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ this does not apply to the entitlement to assistance under Article 9.”
Delays and cancellation of flights are inevitable. You wouldn’t want your security compromised; most causes of these flight cancellation delays can affect your security. It is, however, important to minimize your inconveniences and costs by knowing your rights.