My flight is cancelled. What are my rights?

My flight is cancelled. What are my rights?  I bought a plane ticket to a destination that I chose but my flight is cancelled. It’s good to know that if I have problems with flights departing from or arriving in countries in Europe, I have rights that are regulated by the European Union.

Cases in which the airline does not pay any compensation

The airline must provide me at least 2 weeks’ notice to avoid paying compensation. After that it must offer me to choose one of the following options:

  • an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity or at a later date of my choice subject to the availability of seats;
  • a full refund of the ticket that I paid.

If I have been given between 2 weeks and 7 days notice, the airline must offer me to choose one of the following options:

  • an alternative flight departingno more than 2 hours before my original departure time and allowing arrival at my final destination within 4 hours of the original scheduled time of arrival;
  • a full refund of the ticket that I paid.

Less than 7 days notice requires the airline to offer me to choose one of the following options:

  • an alternative flight departing no more than 1 hour before my original departure time and allowing arrival at my final destination  within 2 hours of the original scheduled time of arrival;
  • a full refund of the ticket that I paid.

Cases in which the airline pays compensation

If on my arrival at the airport I see that my flight is cancelled, at the check-in area there must be displayed a sign with the following text: “If you are denied boarding or if your flight is cancelled or delayed for at least two hours, ask at the check-in counter or boarding gate for the text stating your rights, particularly with regard to compensation and assistance”.

In the event of a cancellation without prior notification, the air carrier is required to offer me:

  • care and assistance free of charge while I wait for my rerouted flight– specifically, meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time, hotel accommodation (minimum category – 2 stars) in cases where an overnight stay becomes necessary, transport between the airport and place of accommodation and 2 telephone calls, 2 emails,  2 telexes and 2 faxes;
  • an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity or by comparable transport to the final destination;
  • a full refund of the ticket that I paid for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts that I already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose to my original travel plan or when relevant a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest opportunity;
  • when the city, town or region is served by several airports, the air carrier may offer me a flight to an alternative airport to my originally booked final destination. The air carrier is obliged to bear the cost of my transfer to the initiall airport or other destination chosen by me.

If the airline cannot provide any of these opportunities, I have a right to receive compensation. It depends on the travel distance and the reason for the cancellation of the flight. In cases of an extra circumstance which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures were taken by the airline (meteorological conditions, air traffic control restrictions, security risks, etc.) , then no compensation is payable. If these cases do not exist, the compensation depends on the distance of the flight:

  • € 250 for all flights of 1500 km.;
  • € 400 for all flights between 1500 km. and 3500 km., and all EU flights over 3,500 km.
  • € 600 for all flights not followed by the above cases.

If the airline offered me an alternative flight to my final destination and the difference between the time of arrival of the cancelled flight and the time of arrival of the proposed flight is from 2 to 4 hours (depending on destination), the air carrier may reduce the compensation up to 50%.

If due to the change of route, I am placed in a lower class than originally booked, then I am entitled to 30% to 75% of the purchased ticket, depending on the destination. But if I bought a ticket for a lower class, and I am placed in a higher, I do not owe any additional payment.

Often when buying plane tickets, airlines offer an insurance which costs around € 20 and guarantee the above rights. It is very important to know that these rights are already legally guaranteed to me and there is no need to further insure.

I can submit any complaints concerning to my flight to the competent authority in the country where the flight problem occurs. I can find HERE the information about the competent authorities in European countries.

The National body, which monitors the compliance of my air passenger rights, is the Directorate General “Civil Aviation Administration”. It receives and processes complaints where the point of departure and arrival is in Bulgaria. HERE I can download an electronic application for a complaint.

(*) This article aims to outline some of your main rights while it has no claims on being a legal advisor. If you have any difficulties with the execution of these main rights or your case is more complicated, we advise you to consult a legal expert (*)

Authors:

Viara Moleva

Denitsa Kojuharova

Translatоr:
Reni Hristova

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§ Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91 (Text with EEA relevance) – Commission Statement

§ Regulation № 261 of July 13, 2006:

art. 9, para. 3 – no compensation for cancelled flight;

art. 9, para. 5 – exceptional circumstances which preclude the payment of compensation;

art. 11  – cash benefits;

art. 12  – alternative tours when the flight is cancelled;

art. 13  –  differences in the class;

art. 14  – granteed aid by the air carrier to the passenger;

art. 15  – the sign on the check-in area;

art. 18 – control body of air carriers.

§ The Directorate General “Civil Aviation Administration”

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