Frequent travelers around Europe will know that most of the time, you can set your watch by the punctuality of flight departure and arrival times at airports. However, there are sometimes problems that can cause lengthy delays or even the cancellation of flights. This can lead to tedium and uncertainty in departure lounges, or in the worst situations, even throw your travel plans into utter chaos.

Know Your Rights

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As a market leader in helping air passengers protect their rights for almost a decade, Flightright have put together guides to clarify how travelers can be protected in case of flight disruption. They have also ensured that more than €200 million in compensation has been paid out to clients affected by these disruptions. They highlight that it is important to know your rights under EU Regulation 261, introduced in 2004 by European lawmakers to provide a much greater level of protection, should you need to make a compensation claim.

Following the introduction of this significant piece of European legislature, the aim has been to provide a greater level of protection for passengers. It doesn’t matter if you are a business traveler or flying as part of a package holiday, compensation is awarded to each individual person who suffered disruption to their travel. EU Regulation 261 was also introduced as a stimulus to ensure airlines are more punctual, and more informative regarding disruptions.

Airlines must compensate passengers if flights are canceled, without giving notification less than 14 days in advance of departure. Likewise, passengers are also entitled to compensation if flights are delayed for more than three hours, and if connecting flights are missed. There is also protection against overbooking by airlines, in the event passengers are denied boarding.

When Compensation Applies

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If your flight arrives at its destination 3 or more hours late, you are entitled to compensation. Likewise, when connecting flights are missed which cause a delay of more than 3 hours, arriving at your final destination. This applies even if the connecting flight is operated by another airline, when you have a valid ticket for both legs of the journey.

If overbooking of a flight leads to denial of boarding due to all seats being full, the passenger is fully entitled to compensation. When flights are canceled by airlines, in cases where less than 14 days notification is given, compensation is due. In all cases, compensation applies to airlines which have headquarters within the EU, arriving and departing from airports in European countries.

For flights arriving in Europe operated by airlines originating from other countries around the world, compensation and passenger protection rights aren’t usually as strong as those governed by EU Regulation 261 within the European Union. According to information, airlines originating in around 130 countries are instead governed by the Montreal Convention, which mainly provides for loss or damage of luggage, rather than compensation for disruption. That said, the latter can still be compensated in some cases.

Keep Your Paperwork

Whenever traveling by air, you should always have copies of any documents and paperwork to hand, relating to your flight. In addition, should you encounter any disruption during your journey with an airline, don’t forget to keep notes of anything relating to that disruption, including any information or statements provided by the airline. Everything helps if you have need to make a claim for compensation.