Things to Know about EU Passenger Rights Amid Covid-19
Leah Walker April 23, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is impacting people and businesses from all around the world. The economic impact of the outbreak is much higher than what many believe so it is important to be aware of all the rights that we have during these tough times.

EU passengers are protected due to to EU regulations on delayed flights. This does apply to cancelled flights. According to Flightright, a leading company that obtains compensations for delayed and cancelled flights based on EU regulation 261/2004 and other existing laws, the European Commission did publish guidelines in order to guarantee the fact that the rights of EU passengers are coherently applied all throughout the continent amid the covid-19 pandemic.

National governments did react and introduced different measures, like border controls and travel restrictions, but the Commission issues guidelines to reassure all airline passengers of the protection of their rights.

Right now, there are mass delays and cancellations happening. Transport operators are all affected by the pandemic. It is more important than ever that EU passenger rights are applied. When talking about cancellations, the provider has to re-route or reimburse its passengers. When it is the passenger that decides to cancel the trip, reimbursement depends on the ticket type. Vouchers might be offered by airline companies for future use.

Air Passenger Rights

In the event that you scheduled a Europe trip with an airline but because of the recent events, the flight was cancelled, the European Union guarantees fundamental air passenger rights. Some of the rights do depend based on the airline used.

Some things to know:

  • The Right to Re-Route Or Reimburse
  • When the airline cancels the flight, it needs to offer a choice to its passenger. It does not matter why the flight was cancelled.

The aircraft has to give you the opportunity to choose:

  • Refund – reimbursement
  • Re-routing – which should happen at the earliest possible opportunity
  • Re-routing – which can happen at a future date, based on the convenience of the passenger

If you are not offered the possibility of choosing between these, the airline is trying to take advantage of your lack of knowledge. In this case, you need to work with a company like the above mentioned Flightright. The good news is that the compensation you will get will be much higher because the airline basically did not respect the current travel regulations that apply in the EU.

The Right to Care

All the airline passengers that were affected by a cancellation have the right to be offered care, which needs to be free of charge. The air carrier that operates the flight should do this without delaying the process. Some of the things that can be done include offering refreshments and meals based on the waiting time, but many other things can be offered, like hotel accommodation whenever it is necessary, together with transportation to where the accommodation is located.

The Right to Compensation

If the trip was cancelled because of what is labeled as being an “extraordinary circumstance”, which practically means something that was unavoidable although reasonable measures were taken, a fixed sum compensation is going to be offered. This does depend on many different factors but it is a good thing for all airline passengers.

EU passenger rights do exist to protect those affected by airplane delays and cancellations. However, you might not know everything about how much you can get and what the exact procedure is for compensation to be obtained. This is why you need to inform yourself as soon as possible. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, it is expected that most flights will be cancelled.

Leah Walker

Leah has a marketing management company specializing in strategy, content creation and implementation for luxury brands and destinations. She's also a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. Leah documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. She sometimes freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for five years, and was awarded additional time with a Passeport Talent visa. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

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