What are the rights of airline passengers?12 January 2021
Are passengers protected if the flight is late or cancelled? What are the rights of the airline passengers? Juggling into the legislation can be daunting but don’t worry! There are basically two institutional sources to rely on:
The rights of airline passengers are enunciated in the European Regulation EU261 and in the Montreal Convention.
EU Regulation EU261/2004
The European Regulation no.261/2004 sets out a number of provisions about compensation and assistance to airline passengers for denied boarding, flight cancellation or substantial delay.
The document applies to all flights (either scheduled, charter or low cost ones) operated by European airlines arriving to or leaving from a Country that belongs to the Schengen area; and also applies to the so-called “outermost region” that includes Guadalupe, French Guyana, Réunion, Martinique, Mayotte and Saint-Martin, Azores, Madera and the Canary Islands. Meanwhile, flights operated by non-EU airlines are subject to the local legislation.
Who is the legal entity?
Any passenger owing a flight ticket (including frequent flyer owners);
- Any passenger with a confirmed booking;
- Any passenger that showed up at check-in within the time frame indicated by the airline/tour operator/travel agency and in any case not later than 45 minutes before departure.
Who is excluded from the legislation?
- Passengers travelling free or at a reduced fare that is not accessible to the public;
- Passengers who are denied boarding due to health or safety reasons, or whose travel documents are not valid.
Montreal Convention, on the other hand, unified the legislation about the carrier’s liability in case of damage caused to airline passengers, luggage or goods during international travelling. A necessary measure to make up for the inadequacy of the Warsaw Convention that regulated the carrier’s liability in case of death and injuries of the passenger.
- The air carrier’s civil liability is unlimited in case of personal injury and sets two levels:
- The first level is about objective liability for damages up to 100.000 SDR (about 120.000€). SDR acronym- that stands for Special Drawing Rights – is one of the International Monetary Fund currencies and it’s value is based on other reference currencies such as Euro, USD and others;
- In case of personal injury, an advanced payment to the injured passengers is required in order to meet the costs they may incur in that moment;
- It sets the rules on the responsibility of both the contractual carrier and the air carrier. The contractual carrier is whom stipulates the contract with the passenger – namely sells the ticket; the air carrier is whom operates the flight, and whose reference does not appear in the flight ticket. The air carrier may not coincide with the contractual carrier.
For further information check the air passengers’ rights.
Why is it important to be aware of your rights?
Over 8 million travellers worldwide are not aware that they could be entitled to compensation for flights disservice. Supposing that each of them meets the requirements to access to compensation – even if to varying degrees – you can easily understand the entity of the overall economic losses.
If you manage the travels in your company, being aware of the air passengers’ rights may help you recover part of the expenses. Has it been months since the departure date of your colleague? You are still on time to claim. In fact, if you suffered cancellations, delays or overbooking in the last 3 years, you can get up to 600€ compensation.
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