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General terms of passenger protection
The basic regulations concerning passengers' rights are delineated by European Union laws. That is why they apply first of all to all flights on the EU territory and to carriers from countries that belong to the Commonwealth. The passengers are therefore protected during a flight beyond the borders of the EU if the airport of departure or the target airport is located on its territory.
Right to assistance
The fundamental right of the passenger is the right to assistance. The airline is obliged to provide support for a passenger whose flight was cancelled or is significantly delayed, or who was not allowed to board a plane against their will and actions. Within this kind of assistance, passengers have to be provided with food and drinks, two phone calls, fax messages, e-mails, or teleprinter messages, as well as with accommodation in a hotel for the time required by the situation and with transport to the accommodation.
However, it is good to know that a passenger is not entitled to this help if:
- The delay is shorter than 2 hours (in the case of flights under 1500 km),
- The delay is shorter than 3 hours in the case of intra-Community flights (flights over 1500 km).
- The delay is shorter than 3 hours in the case of flights other than intra-Community flights (flights between 1500 km and 3500 km),
- The delay is shorter than 4 hours in the case of flights other than intra-Community flights (flights over 300 km).
Right to compensation
In a situation where the carrier did not guarantee a proper execution of a service as a result of a situation that was not the passenger's fault, the passenger has a right to compensation. It is always regulated by separate EU regulations and can be higher than what is prescribed in the act.
The first situation in which the right to compensation may be activated is an event in which the passenger is denied boarding against their will and not as a result of their actions or because of a cancellation of the flight. Then, the carrier is obligated to pay compensation. It is predetermined and consists of:
- 250 euro for flights under 1500 km,
- 400 euro for flights within the EU over 1500 km,
- 400 euro for flights other than those within the EU between 1500 km and 3500 km,
- 600 euro for flights other than those within the EU over 3500 km.
That, however, is only a general regulation. The amount may be higher, but it may also be cut in half in the event of the carrier guaranteeing the time of arrival of the alternate flight to be no later than:
- two hours for flights under 1500 km,
- three hours for flights within the EU above 1500 km or flights other than those within the EU between 1500 km and 3500 km,
- four hours for flights other than those within the EU over 3500 km.
Right to reimbursement of the full price of the ticket and to free return
If a given flight is delayed over 5 hours or was cancelled, the passenger has the right to reimbursement of the full price of the purchased ticket and to the arrangement of a free return by the carrier in conditions that are proper and advantageous for the passenger. Importantly, if the passenger signs a written consent, the reimbursement may take the form of a voucher or a service.
Responsibilities of the passenger
Passengers do not have only rights, however. Every passenger has the responsibility to comply with not only the general standards but also the internal regulations of behaviour during a flight. As a result of not observing the regulations, a passenger may be expelled from the plane or denied boarding. In that event, they will not have the right to reimbursement. It is then very important to remember about it.