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Legal Matters: Cancelled flights

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AS AN airline passenger, when a flight is cancelled you have specific consumer rights under European Law.

In particular, you are entitled to one of the following options:

  • A refund of the cost of your ticket within seven days.
  • An alternative flight to your destination at the earliest opportunity.
  • An alternative flight at a later date, subject to availability.

If you request the next available flight, then the airline must provide care and assistance until you can be accommodated on a flight.

It must provide meals and refreshments, and if necessary, cover the cost of hotel accommodation, transport between the hotel and the airport and you are also entitled to two free telephone calls and access to email.

If the airline does not provide the required care and assistance you should make your own reasonable arrangements and retain all receipts to claim back your expenses.

In certain circumstances compensation may be payable for your cancelled flight. An airline will not pay compensation if you have received;

  • A minimum of two weeks’ notice;
  • Between seven days and two weeks’ notice, but have been offered an alternative flight departing no more than two hours before your original departure flight time and arriving at your final destination less than four hours after your original flight arrival time;
  • Less than seven days’ notice, but have been offered an alternative flight departing no more than one hour before your original departure time and arriving at your final destination less than two hours after your original flight arrival time. Also, if the cancellation is due to extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided, (e.g. weather conditions, air traffic control restrictions, security risks) compensation may not be payable.

In April this year, the European Court of Justice ruled that airline staff strikes cannot be considered as an extraordinary circumstance.

If you choose a refund for a cancelled flight and you are entitled to compensation the amount payable to you depends on the type of flight booked, e.g. if your flight is €1,500km or less the amount of compensation payable is €250. The maximum compensation payable is €600.

If you choose an alternative flight, the compensation payable depends on the type of flight booked and the length of delay. For example, if your flight is €1,500km or less, and your delay is two hours or less the amount of compensation payable is €125, and if your flight is €1,500km or less, and your delay is more than two hours the amount of compensation payable is €250 and so on.

Again, the maximum compensation payable is €600. If you have a complaint about the assistance or compensation you receive for a cancelled flight, you must contact your airline directly and if the matter is not satisfactorily resolved you can make compliant to the Commission for Aviation Regulation.

This article does not constitute legal advice. For further info, contact Cashin & Associates Solicitors, 3 Francis Street, Ennis, Co. Clare. Tel: 065 6840060. Email: slynch@cashinlaw.com

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