Getting on a plane with the intention of flying to an exotic destination for the first time is one of the most exhilarating experiences a person can possibly have. The expectation of adventure, the sojourn from everyday stress and work, and just the blank canvas of possibilities which await are all extremely exciting. And nothing can ruin this experience more quickly than a cancelled or delayed flight. Suddenly your hand luggage feels more like weight and a dread settles over your heart as you think of your missed connection in Paris, and the thought of having to deal with airport bureaucracy causes nothing but an instant headache. It’s enough to want to skip traveling altogether, especially considering you get nothing in return for the extra nine hours you have to spend at the airport.
Except that’s not true.
It’s a lifehack that not many travellers are aware about, but in the event that a flight is delayed by a huge margin or cancelled altogether, airlines aren’t simply allowed to leave you hanging. Whereas in the past, if you wanted to be covered in the event of such unfortunate circumstances you needed comprehensive travel insurance (something you should still invest in anyway), today airlines are required by law to compensate you for your wasted time.
The Law is On the Traveller’s Side
The law is called Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 and states that in the event of a passenger being denied booking, having a severe flight delay or having their flight cancelled completely, and if these circumstances were within the means of control of the airline, then that passenger is eligible to claim compensation back from the airline. Just how much compensation are we talking here? It varies, but it operates in a sort of tiered payment system. The longer the your delay and the further the distance from your point of departure and destination, the more money you’re eligible for. This amount starts at €250 with a maximum payout of €600 – no small amount when you consider that most international flights cost less than that.
How to Claim Compensation
If your flight was cancelled, delayed or you missed a connection and are now seeking flight compensation, there are a number of different ways that you can approach the situation. Firstly, you can contact the airport directly in person. Generally you find a help desk within the airport and they might be able to give you immediate compensation. This isn’t always likely, however. A lot of airport staff will simply refer you to the next person or ask you to make a claim online. You can do this, but it’s a lengthy and laborious process, with airlines often taking up to six weeks to respond. When they do respond, however, it’s important that you keep all of your important documents such as travel tickets and any correspondence you might have as this will help your case.
Although airlines generally don’t cause too much of a fuss in this regard, sometimes they might try and stall the process in an attempt to frustrate you into dropping the case. If this is something you want to avoid, there are a number of third party companies who can claim compensation on your behalf for a nominal fee. These companies are generally pretty efficient, and you only have to pay them once they’ve collected your compensation. This is a good route to take if you’re not keen to deal with long waiting times and endless email exchanges.