Air-Passenger RightsLearn your rights flying from the US to Europe (EEC)

Ireland Airline Passenger Rights

We have to admit that we love travel, but we hate flying – and many clients agree, everything from purchasing airfare, paying for luggage and actually flying has become a much less enjoyable part of travel and vacationing over the years. Read your airline’s Contract of Carriage and you’ll soon realize that you pay for that seat and they don’t owe you a thing, except your money back and leaving you stranded trying to get to your destination.

Thankfully there are some rights that you may not know about and should. Don’t go rattling these off as soon as you check-in for your flight, but make sure you’re aware so you can invoke them politely, when needed.

United States Airline Bumping Compensation

The DOT (see http://airconsumer.dot.gov/rules/EAPP_2_FAQ_81911.pdf) requires certain air-travel rights, including passenger rights when the airline involuntarily bumps you – all of which must not be covered in the airline’s Contract of Carriage.

Airlines still overbook passengers, knowing that connections may not be made and they might owe you compensation if they cannot get you to your destination within one hour of your scheduled arrive.

Domestic Flight Delay Compensation
Flight Delay Compensation Maximum Flight Delay Compensation
1-2 hours of scheduled arrival 200% of one-way fare $650 maximum
2+ Hours 400% of one-way fare $1300 maximum
International Flight Delay Compensation
Flight Delay Compensation Maximum Flight Delay Compensation
2-4 hours of scheduled arrival 200% of one-way fare $650 maximum
4+ Hours 400% of one-way fare $1300 maximum

Airlines can elect to arrange alternate transportation on another airline, at their expense – no charge at all to you.

Regardless of whether you receive compensation or alternate transportation, you get to keep your original ticket to use for a future flight or have the airline refund it.

These rules apply to frequent-flyer award tickets, also known as “zero fare” tickets for which you paid taxes on. Monetary compensation is based on the prices of similar tickets when using a frequent-flyer award ticket.

Unfortunately these rules do not apply when a passenger is booked for any other reason than overbooking as well as if a flight is delayed or canceled.

United States Flight Delays and Cancellation Compensation

You have the right to be rerouted at no extra cost, or receive a full refund, if your flight is canceled, substantially delayed or rescheduled. Mind you, airline policies dictate what constitutes a “substantial” delay or schedule change so this is a bit more difficult. Federal law requires any airline flying into the United States file a “Customer Service Plan” which describes what they promise to do in the case of delays, cancellations, diversions, etc. It doesn’t dictate compensation, on that the airline must detail it for you, in plain language.

Wording is very important here because some airlines will say that they will transfer you to another airline, others will say they “may” transfer you and still others may offer you a seat on their next available flight.

Make sure you have a copy of your airline’s Contract of Carriage to know what you are entitled to.

United States Domestic Flight Tarmac Delay Compensation

Unfortunately the only compensation here is providing food and water during a lengthy tarmac delay in the United States, both upon arrival or departure. The DOT mandates that you cannot be kept on a plane for more than three hours on a domestic flight or four hours for international flights. Airlines are required to provide food and water after two hours of delay, provide updates every 30 minutes and allow the use of lavatories.

Compensation is not given when airlines violate these rules, they are fined by the DOT instead.

European (EEC) Airline Passenger Bumping and Overbooking Rights

We love the European regulations much better however US lobbyist have ensured that we don’t penalize airlines more stringently. The EEC’s Regulation EC261 applies when you board any flight with an EEC member state or landing in an EEC airline on an airline based in the EEC, Norway or Switzerland.

“Article 7” states that if an airline is unable to get you to your destination within three hours of your scheduled arrival time, you will be compensated €250 for flights 1,500km or less; €400 for flights 1500 – 3500km outside the EEC and €600 for flights over 3500km outside the EEC.

EEC airlines must offer rerouting or refunds (“Article 8”) when asked as well as meals/refreshments, hotel accommodations, etc. (“Article 9”) EC261 does not limit this compensation to instance of overbooking, but to ANY instance.

European (EEC) Airline Passenger Delay and Cancellation Rights

If your European flight is canceled, you are entitled to all “Articles” above including compensation, rerouting and care however “Article 7” compensation isn’t applicable if the airline notifies you more than two weeks prior to your departure date or they notify you with 7-14 days and re-route you to arrive within 4 hours of your originally scheduled time. Within 7 days the airline must re-route you to arrive within 2 hours of your original arrival time or “Article 7” applies and they must compensate you. Finally, this compensation is not given when the cancellation is caused by “extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.” Of course.

When it comes to delays, you’re entitled to “Article 7” compensation if your delay is three hours or more – and who hasn’t experienced that at some point in their life? If the delay exceeds five hours, “Article 8” kicks in and apply. Both rules apply to extended tarmac delays as well!