What exactly can passengers claim for?

(07 May 2010)

Scenario #1
A passenger was initially scheduled to fly from Madrid to Dublin on Friday 16th April 2010. The flight was cancelled as a result of the volcanic ash cloud so he transferred his booking to a flight, with the same air carrier, on Sunday the 18th. This second flight was also cancelled due to the ash cloud. At this stage the passenger decides that he will try to make his own way home by another means and he requests a refund of his unused flight from the air carrier.

Q. What can the passenger in the above scenario claim for?
A. Under Regulation 261/ 2004 the passenger is entitled to claim a refund of the cost of the unused flight together with reimbursement of reasonable receipted expenses in respect of his accomodation for the nights of the 16th and 17th April. He is also entitled to reimbursement of reasonable receipted expenses in respect of his meals and refreshments from the time of the original cancellation on the 16th until the time of the cancellation of his flight on the 18th. Furthermore he is entitled to seek reimbursement of the cost of his transport from the airport to his hotel on the 16th and also the cost of his transport from the hotel to the airport on the 18th.

Scenario #2
A passenger was scheduled to fly from San Francisco to Dublin on Saturday 17th April with a Community-licensed carrier i.e. an air carrier licensed in Europe e.g. Aer Lingus, British Airways etc. The flight was cancelled as a result of the volcanic ash cloud and the passenger transferred her booking to a flight, with the same air carrier, on Tuesday 20th April. The passenger incurred expenses in respect of her hotel accomodation and food whilst waiting on the flight on the 20th.

Q. What can the passenger in the above scenario claim for?
A. Under Regulation 261/ 2004 the passenger is entitled to obtain reimbursement for reasonable receipted expenses in respect of her accomodation for the nights of the 17th, 18th and 19th April. She is also entitled to reimbursement of reasonable receipted expenses in respect of her meals and refreshments from the time of the original cancellation on the 16th until the departure of her flight on the 20th April. Furthermore she is entitled to seek reimbursement of the cost of his transport from the airport to his hotel on the 17th and also the cost of her transport from the hotel to the airport on the 20th April.

Scenario #3
A passenger was scheduled to fly from San Francisco to Dublin on Saturday 17th April with an air carrier that is licensed in the United States e.g. Delta, Continental, United Airlines. The flight was cancelled as a result of the volcanic ash cloud and the passenger transferred her booking to a flight, with the same air carrier, on Tuesday 20th April. The passenger incurred expenses in respect of her hotel accomodation and food whilst waiting on the flight on the 20th.

Q. What can the passenger in the above scenario claim for?
A. Regulation 261/ 2004 does not apply to flights arriving into airports within Europe where those flights departed from countries outside of the Member States and were operated by air carriers licensed outside of the European Union. Consequently the passenger is the above scenario is not entitled to recover any monies under the Regulation.

Scenario #6
A passenger has a booking for a flight which is scheduled to depart in a few days time. Given the widespread disruption as a result of the volcanic ash cloud in recent weeks and the fact that the cloud still poses some risks to the operation of flights over the coming days the passenger is considering cancelling his flight and seeking a refund.

Q. Is the passenger entitled to a refund of the cost of his tickets if he cancels his reservation? 
A. Flight cancellations are covered by Regulation 261 insofar as they are effected by the air carrier. Where a passenger cancels his reservation (but the flight itself is still opertaed by the air carrier) he does so in conjunction with the air carrier's terms and conditions agreed at the time of purchase. Most air carriers terms and conditions state that where a flight is cancelled by a passenger - regardless of the reason - only the Government taxes and charges are refundable.  

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