Rights for air passengers
Remember the Volcanic Ash Cloud chaos in April 2010 - and May 2011 - when flights were grounded across Europe? At Cheapflights.co.uk, we received hundreds of emails from readers who had trouble receiving compensation from their airlines - for meals, hotel stays etc. Here's a rundown of what you can expect by way of compensation (Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 to be precise) should your journey be affected:
Airlines overbook. They do this knowing that not all passengers due to fly will turn up on the day. If this happens to you, EU regulations state that the airline should ask passengers to voluntarily give up their seat in exchange for cash or vouchers. And they should also offer volunteers the choice between a refund and re-routing. A passenger may also be entitled to compensation of between €250 and €600 (between £210 and £507) depending on the distance of the flight and the delays experienced before being re-routed.
The rates of compensation are the same if your flight is cancelled. There's a get-out clause for the airlines here however. If the cancellation is caused by an extraordinary event, a volcanic eruption for example, carriers may not have to pay.
If your flight is cancelled, the airline should offer either reimbursement of your ticket or routing to your final destination under similar conditions. It may also help with phone calls, food, accommodation and transport between the hotel and the airport.
Within the EU, the compensation rates are €250 for a flight of up to 1,500km (London to Dublin for example) and €400 for flights of more than 1,500km (London-Bucharest).
Between an airport in the European Union and an airport outside the EU, the rates are €250 for flights of up to 1,500km, €400 for flights of between 1,500 and 3,500km and €600 for flights of more than 3,500km.
Keep calm and keep everything
Submit an air passenger rights EU complaint form to your airline, keeping a copy for yourself.
If you're unsatisfied with the airline's reply complain to the national enforcement body in the EU country where the incident took place.
If the incident occurred at an airport of departure outside the EU but concerned an EU airline, you may complain to the relevant national enforcement body in the EU country you were travelling to.
Updated May 2013