Travelers can exercise a series of rights if they suffer cancellation or delay on a flight. These are regulated and determined in Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of February 11, 2004, which establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to air passengers in the event of denied boarding, cancellation or long delay of flights.

The rule establishes three different scenarios that we will analyze a) the denial of boarding, b) the cancellation of the flight and c) the delay of the flight. It is essential to determine that it will only apply to passengers who depart or have an airport in a Member State of the European Union as their destination.

a) Regarding the denial of boarding, when the air operator anticipates that he will have to deny boarding on a flight, he must ask for volunteers to resign their flight reservations in exchange for certain benefits and assistance, such as reimbursement on within 7 days of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was purchased or a flight back to the first departure point as quickly as possible or an alternative transport.

In case of not reaching a number of volunteers covering the places to be denied, the air operator may deny boarding to passengers against their will, and in this case they must immediately offer compensation that will vary as follows:

On flights up to 1500 km, 250 euros
On flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km, 400 euros
Intra-community flights of more than 1,500 km, 400 euros
Flights over 3,500 km, 600 euros
b) In case of cancellation of a flight, assistance must be offered to passengers such as a refund within 7 days of the full cost of the ticket at the price it was purchased, or a flight back to the first starting point as much as fast as possible or an alternative transport.

Sufficient food and drink and free phone calls, email services should also be offered; in the case where alternative transportation is offered and this departure takes place at least the next day, travelers must be offered hotel accommodation and transportation service between the airport and the place of accommodation.

            Similarly, passengers who have seen their flight canceled will be entitled to financial compensation, provided that such cancellation has not been informed in advance or it can be proven that the cancellation is not due to extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided.

The aforementioned financial compensation will vary as follows:

On flights up to 1500 km, 250 euros
On flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km, 400 euros
Intra-community flights of more than 1,500 km, 400 euros
Flights over 3,500 km, 600 euros

c) In case of flight delay, passenger rights will vary depending on the duration of the delay. Considering delay for the purposes of European regulations

Of two hours or more in the case of flights of 1,500 km or less.
For three hours or more on intra-community flights of more than 1500 km.
Three hours or more on flights between 1500 km and 3000 km.
Four hours or more on flights of superior route.
Assistance must be offered to passengers, such as a refund within 7 days of the full cost of the ticket at the price it was purchased, or a flight back to the first starting point as quickly as possible or an alternative transport.

Sufficient food and drink and free phone calls, email services should also be offered; in the case where alternative transportation is offered and this departure takes place at least the next day, travelers must be offered hotel accommodation and transportation service between the airport and the place of accommodation.

Also establishing the right to compensation in the following cases:

On flights up to 1500 km, 250 euros
On flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km, 400 euros
Intra-community flights of more than 1,500 km, 400 euros
Flights over 3,500 km, 600 euros
The term to claim these rights is 5 years as determined by our civil law.

In short, it will be important to exercise our rights when we find ourselves in any of these situations, and sometimes, go to professionals so they can claim them on our behalf.

Marta Alonso Méndez.

Lawyer