1. If your flight has been cancelled
2. If you are stranded abroad
- Under Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 airlines are required to offer passengers either a refund of the full cost of the ticket or rerouting to their final destination at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at the passenger's convenience subject to availability.
- While awaiting the earliest available rerouted flight, passengers are entitled to receive care and assistance from an airline. In such cases the airline is specifically required to supply meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting period, two free telephone calls, emails or faxes and hotel accommodation if an overnight stay is required.
- Passengers affected by disruptions caused by the volcanic ash cloud will, however, be unable to claim compensation under the Regulation, since these cancellations are caused by extraordinary circumstances beyond the control of the airline
3. If you are travelling on a package holiday
- Passengers unable to return home due to the travel disruptions are entitled to receive care and assistance from the airline as outlined above. Passengers must also be provided with a text setting out their entitlements.
- If no assistance is provided and passengers incur reasonable expenses as a result, these must be reimbursed by the airline. Passengers should ensure they keep receipts for all expenses incurred and to contact the airline in writing on their return home enclosing copies of these receipts.
- For consumers stranded outside the EU, it is important to remember that the Regulation only applies to air carriers licensed in a Member State of the EU.
If your trip was booked as a package holiday, you have stronger protection under the Package Holiday Directive. If trips are cancelled and tour operators cannot get you to your destination they must offer you the choice between a replacement package of equivalent or superior quality, a lower grade package with a refund of the difference in price between the two packages, or a full refund. Passengers on package holidays who are stranded in a destination must be looked after by their tour operator, and the operator is obliged to get them home.
4. What about my hotel and car hire bookings that were not booked as part of a package?
Airlines are not obliged to cover the cost of missed booking made by passengers who organised their holidays independently. Nonetheless, passengers might not lose their money. They should contact the service provider to see if it is possible to change their plans or receive a refund. If the provider is unwilling to assist, consumers should contact their insurer as such circumstances may be covered by their particular travel insurance policy.
According to Caroline Curneen, spokesperson for ECC Ireland, “While this difficult situation is undoubtedly placing great pressure on the travel industry as well as on travellers, this shouldn’t prevent passengers receiving the care and assistance from airlines that they are entitled to.”
ECC Ireland is one of a network of consumer advice centres across the EU, jointly funded by governments and the European Commission. The network is there to provide information to consumers in the Single EU Market and to give advice and support when things go wrong.