If you travel in Europe, or change planes in Europe while flying from somewhere else to somewhere else -
Here is some potentially* valuable-to-know information about passenger rights in the European Union.
There is controversy about the law and the court judgement, so this won't be the last word on it, but for now, the below are the rights of EU flight passengers*, and it probably would be good for all people who travel in Europe to be aware of them (whether or not these rights end up applying in your case*).
I am not sure who qualifies for these rights -
I am not sure which flights are covered -
Today's ruling against budget airline Ryanair brings a clearer understanding of airlines responsibility towards their passengers.
The ruling is called EU 261, and it asserts firmer and far-reaching rights for passengers.
The ruling has been condemned by Ryanair, who say it will increase ticket prices.
The ruling does not concern compensation - but reimbursement of expenses incurred during an incident like the ash cloud.
If your flight was cancelled due to the volcanic ash cloud in 2010, today's ruling means you were entitled to reimbursement of 'reasonable' expenses.
However, most payments of this kind have already been made (including by Ryanair) - the court decison was a "test case" to settle how the law should be interpreted for future situations - including snow, strikes and the like.
The airline is liable for the following:
To claim compensation, passengers should contact the airline company directly.
If your flight has been cancelled, your airline must get you to your destination or offer you a full refund.
If your flight is delayed by more than 5 hours and you no longer want to travel, you are entitled to a full refund.
If you are a transfer passenger you are entitled to a flight back to your original departure point.
Be aware: if you accept a refund your airline no longer has to look after you.
If the disruption is severe, your airline may advise you to make your own travel arrangements and will reimburse costs. If this happens: make a note of the conversation and any guidance, ask the airline to update your booking with details of the agreement.
If your flight has been cancelled or delayed for several hours, your airline must look after you, after a certain period of time:
0-1,500km: Your airline must assist you after two hours.
After these times your airline is obliged to provide food, drinks, and some communications. If you are delayed overnight, this means a hotel and travel to and from the hotel to the airport.
If the airline does not pay for refreshments you can pay for your own and claim money back: be aware this will not include alcohol and you must hold on to receipts.
Airlines must look after passengers with a disability and unaccompanied children as a priority
If you have booked a package holiday, your tour operator is responsible for rearranging your flight.
If you holiday cannot be rearranged or is significantly changed you are entitled to a refund of the full package price if you wish.
A chart of passenger rights and a pamphlet -
at the website of the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority
"You have important rights if your flight is delayed or cancelled, however, those rights will vary depending on your circumstances and whether you are travelling with an EU carrier or a non-EU carrier."