Volcanic ash cloud continues to cause significant disruptions

(19 Apr 2010)

The ash cloud which formed as a result of last weeks volcanic eruption in Iceland is continuing to disrupt flight operations throughout Europe.

If your flight is cancelled or delayed as a result of this extraordinary event, it is important to remember that you still have significant rights and entitlements under EC Regulation No. 261/ 2004. For a brief summary of these rights and entitlements please see below.

Where a flight is cancelled with no prior notice, the passengers are entitled to:

  • Be informed of their legal rights by the airline;
  • Access to telephone, fax, telex or other forms of communication;
  • A refund or an alternative flight to their destination subject to availability, and;
  • Food, refreshments and accommodation offered by the airline free of charge (if necessary and in reasonable relation to the waiting time) while waiting on an alternative flight.

Where a flight is delayed for certain prescribed timeframes (i.e. at least 2 hours for short haul flights and 3 hours for medium haul flights), passengers are entitled to:

  • Be informed of their legal entitlements by the airline;
  • Food and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time;
  • Two phone calls, telex or fax messages, or emails;
  • Accommodation if a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary;
  • Transport between the airport and place of accommodation.

It is important to note that these rights and entitlements apply even though the flight cancellation/ long delay was the result of extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the air carrier i.e. a volcanic ash cloud.

It is also important to note that by virtue of the extraordinary nature of this event, the other significant entitlement afforded to passengers whose flights have been delayed or cancelled under Regulation 261 - compensation - is not deemed payable by air carriers in these circumstances. 

However it should be clarified that compensation is distinct from and separate to the notion of reimbursement of expenses and/ or the refund of the cost of an unused flight. Whilst the former is not applicable to these circumstances, passengers should review the above information to determine their entitlements in respect of the latter two items.

For more comprehensive information regarding your rights and entitlements under EC Regulation No. 261/ 2004 please click here. Alternatively please contact us on 1890 787 787.

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