Know your rights if you suffer airport troubles on holiday

With many now packing up to go on their summer holidays, Citizens Advice Lindsey is offering travellers top tips to help their holidays run more smoothly, writes Jenny Barnett, chief officer of Citizens Advice Lindsey.
Know your rights if you have airport problemsKnow your rights if you have airport problems
Know your rights if you have airport problems

Flight problems can be very frustrating, especially at this time of year.

As well as being inconvenient, issues like delays, cancellations, and lost luggage can be costly.

Knowing your rights, booking ATOL-protected flights, and taking out comprehensive travel insurance will protect your holiday plans before you fly.

We hope that with these top tips, people will enjoy a stress-free journey, from West Lindsey to wherever they’re travelling to.

DelaysIf you’re travelling either to or from an EU airport or with an EU airline, under EU rules you might be entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed.

You can check to see if your flight is covered by EU rules on the Civil Aviation Authority’s website.

Airlines should provide you with assistance depending on how long your flight is delayed, where you were flying to, and how long the journey is.

It’s best to contact the airline or the Civil Aviation Authority right away to see what you’re entitled to.

Unless the delay was due to exceptional circumstances, you could be entitled to up to €600 in compensation depending on the length of the flight and delay.

CancellationsIf your flight gets cancelled you have the legal right to either a full refund paid within seven days, a replacement flight to get you to your destination, from another airline if necessary, or an alternative flight at a convenient time.

Depending on the length of the delay and the distance of the flight, the airline may have to help you with food and drink and access to phone calls and emails.

It may also have to provide accommodation if you’re delayed overnight.

You can check what your eligibility is on the Citizens Advice website in all cases

If you choose to get an alternate flight, you may be entitled to compensation in the event of a cancellation if either the replacement flight delays your arrival by more than two hours, or your flight was cancelled less than two weeks beforehand.

StrikesIndustrial action can wreak havoc on your holiday plans, so it’s important to know what your rights are.

In the event that staff from the airline you’re travelling with are on strike and you’re either delayed or your flight has been cancelled as a result, your rights are the same as with other cancellations or delays.

Airline employee strikes are not deemed to be extraordinary circumstances, which means that depending on the length of your wait you may be entitled to compensation.

The Citizens Advice website can help you calculate how much, if any, you’re likely to be owed.

Lost luggageIf your luggage is delayed, lost or damaged and the airline is at fault, you have the legal right to claim compensation from the airline.

Act quickly and check deadlines as you may have to claim within seven days of your flight.

You can claim money from the airline that would cover the bare essentials you need while you’re away, like toiletries, or for part of the cost of replacing or repairing your goods.

If you have travel insurance or home contents insurance that covers luggage, you might be better off making an insurance claim instead.

You may get more money and find it easier to claim this way, depending on your excess.

Airline insolvencyIn the unfortunate case that airline you’re flying with goes out of business you may be able to get some money back.

But the method you booked by - direct or third party, credit card or debit card, or booking as part of a package holiday - can all affect your compensation, and your travel insurance.

If your flight is ATOL protected it means that you are guaranteed a refund if a company collapses.

If you’ve booked flights through a travel agent the ATOL scheme should apply.

If your flights aren’t ATOL protected you could try claiming against your credit card company under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

To be eligible, you need to have paid more than £100 for the flight, and to have paid some of this amount wit your credit card.

For more information see the Citizens Advice website.

Airline insolvency can sometimes be included on travel insurance policies, so it’s worth contacting your provider to check to see if your policy covers ‘scheduled airline failure’.

You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506.