Second spell of freezing weather causing widespread flight disruptions across Europe

(19 Dec 2010)

The second cold weather snap currently enveloping Ireland, the UK and parts of Europe is causing widespread flight disruptions. 

If your flight is cancelled or delayed as a result of these weather conditions, you should know that you have certain 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, an air carrier must offer its passengers the choice between:

  • an alternative flight to their destination as soon as possible;
  • an alternative flight to the destination at a later date at their convenience; or
  • a refund.

Where the passengers chooses the first option (an alternative flight as soon as possible) he/she is also entitled to receive the following whilst waiting:

  • two telephone calls, fax messages or emails;
  • meals and refreshments free of charge and in reasonable relation to the waiting time;
  • accommodation (again free of charge) where 1 or more overnight stays become necessary;
  • transport between the airport and place of accomodation.

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;
  • receive meals and refreshments free of charge and in reasonable relation to the waiting time;
  • two telephone calls, fax messages, or emails;
  • be provided with accommodation (again free of charge) where 1 or more overnight stays become necessary;
  • be provided with transport between the airport and place of accommodation.

The above rights and entitlements apply even though the cause of the flight cancellation/delay is weather related.

Where disruptions are widespread (as is currently the case), it may not be possible for air carriers to provide the above care and assistance to every affected passenger. Consequently some passengers may need to make their own arrangements for meals and accomodation. These passengers are advised to retain all receipts and to submit these to their air carrier for reimbursement together with all relevant information once they reach their final destination. Passengers are reminded that that if they decide to make travel plans with an alternative air carrier, the original air carrier's obligations are limited to providing a refund of the cost of the unused ticket.

It should be noted that the other right afforded to passengers under EC Regulation 261 (the right to compensation) will not generally apply where the flight cancellation/long flight delay is directly attributable to the current extraordinary weather conditions and could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures were taken by the air carrier.

In the event that some passengers receive incorrect or misleading information from their air carrier regarding their entitlements under EC Regulation 261, they are asked to notify the relevant enforcement body in writing. The Commission for Aviation Regulation is the appropriate enforcement body in respect of those complaints relating to departures from any of the 9 airports in Ireland, and those complaints relating to arrivals into any of these airports from non-EU Countries where the flights are operated by Community-licensed carriers. For a full list of the national enforcement bodies across Europe please click here.

For more comprehensive information regarding your rights and entitlements under EC Regulation No. 261/ 2004 (including information about the applicability of compensation in these situations) please click here. Alternatively please contact us on 1890 787 787.

 

 

 

 

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