Flight cancelled? Delayed? Denied boarding? Do you know your rights?

  • 26 Sep 2014 9:00 AM
Flight cancelled? Delayed? Denied boarding? Do you know your rights?
Airspace is now open for anyone with money to travel. Increasing numbers are taking to the air as travel becomes quicker and cheaper. Yet despite the increasing number of air passengers, many are not aware of their rights when travelling with EU air carriers anywhere in the world, or departing with third party (non-EU) air carriers from the EU. For the last ten years, the European Union has ensured compensation with its Regulation No. 261/2004 in the event that a flight is cancelled, delayed more than three hours, or boarding is denied.

Passengers are most defenceless when travelling by air; the inconvenience involved can cause more headache than any other type of journey. Since 2004, the European Union protects air travellers with its Regulation No. 261/2004 and its case law establishing compensation payment in the following cases: cancelled flights, flights delayed more than three hours (compared to the scheduled arrival time), and denied boarding.

Compensation rates depend on the length of the journey not the price of the ticket; passengers are entitled to get €250‒400 or €600 in compensation per passenger if any of these three annoying situations occur. The actual damage doesn’t need to be proven; the amounts quoted serve as a lump-sum settlement.

In the case of a court procedure, the Airline has to prove that the cause of the delay/cancellation/denied boarding was due to extraordinary circumstances (a force majeure i.e., weather conditions, strike, civil war ... etc.). It’s recommended to document the circumstances of the journey, such as making a print screen of how many other flights took off and landed that day at the same airport.

Passengers are entitled to financial compensation (not in vouchers) within 2 years of the travel date. Force majeure can be proven in court in very few cases, especially because the burden of proof is on the air carriers. Therefore, you shouldn’t give up when you receive the first rejection from the air carrier; this seems to be a common practice. It is also important to mention that Hungarian Courts have jurisdiction over all cases where the air carrier has a seat/branch/subsidiary in Hungary, or the flight departed from or landed in the country.

In order to enforce the compensation claim, it is highly recommended to ask for help from national consumer protection authorities or to assign a legal representative.

Dr. Szegő Judit attorney-at law
Dr. Szegő Judit Law Office
Address: 1026 Budapest, Gábor Áron köz 6. fszt. 1.
Phone: +36-1-7863-156
Mobile: +36-30-9-896-046
Fax/Facsimile: +36-1-7858-939
Skype: jszego

Proofread by Írj Jól Szolgáltató Kft

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