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Flight cancellation – what are passengers’ rights?

Did you go on a Euro weekend but end up spending half of your planned time off waiting in the airport lounge? One of your bags got damaged and the other lost, plus you missed a night in a hotel? What are you entitled to and who do you turn to? That’s what we’ve looked at in our article.

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Chapters of the article

Flight delay claims

According to the Airline Rules, you are entitled to compensation when your flight is delayed by three hours or more. The delay is calculated according to the scheduled arrival at the final destination, not the departure (although it will usually be a very similar length of delay).

Your claim will vary according to the length of the delay and the distance to your destination:

  • For a delay of more than 3 hours, the airline must reimburse you €250 for a distance of up to 1,500 km or €400 for a distance of between 1,500 km and 3,500 km.
  • For delays between 3 and 4 hours, you will be compensated €300.
  • For delays of more than 4 hours, you are entitled to compensation of EUR 600 for distances of more than 3 500 km.

You can claim further compensation if you miss a connecting flight due to a delay.

If the flight has been cancelled altogether, you should be informed at least two weeks before the scheduled departure time, or 7-14 days before the departure of the connection, with an offer of re-routing to enable you to depart at least two hours before the scheduled departure time and reach your final destination at least four hours after the scheduled arrival time. If these conditions have not been met, you are entitled to claim €250 from the carrier for flights up to 1,500 km, €400 for flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km (or any flights within the EU longer than 1,500 km) and €600 for all other flights.

Who should I contact to claim compensation?

As a rule, you must apply for compensation in the form of a financial sum yourself. Contact the airline to claim compensation for a delayed arrival or cancellation. Identify the flight in question and include the number of hours the flight was delayed, the compensation you are claiming and your account number. You can refer to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

Compensation in the form of vouchers and accommodation

If your flight is delayed for more than 2 hours (for distances up to 1 500 km) or 3 hours or more (distances over 1 500 km), you are entitled to a food and drink voucher for the amount of the waiting time. If a hotel stay also becomes necessary (for example, a flight is cancelled and the next flight is not scheduled until the following morning), the carrier will provide hotel accommodation, transport to and from the airport and two reimbursed telephone calls. Passengers are usually approached for vouchers via the amplion at the airport, or they can check with airport staff.

What to do if other things go wrong during the trip? The hotel doesn’t have your room size and instead of a sea view you are looking into a yard with garbage? This is what we focused on in our article dedicated to holiday complaints.

Are you dealing with the inconvenience of claiming your trip?

Are you unclear about what exactly you can claim and who to contact with your claim? Has the carrier rewarded you with ridiculous compensation or refused to deal with the case on the grounds that it was not to blame for the delay? Contact us and we’ll help you assert your rights.

Claims for broken luggage

Airports in some countries are notorious for this: lost luggage is almost a daily occurrence, and some tourists are already desperate to devise their own security measures and fit their luggage with tracking devices. But the most they can do is to watch helplessly on their mobile phones that while they are standing in their winter jacket in Thailand, their suitcase with their swimsuit and summer dress is still waiting for a transfer in Paris.

At other times, your luggage may arrive, but through the broken shell of the suitcase, some of its contents have already disappeared somewhere in the bowels of the airport. What can be done in such a situation?

If at least some of your luggage arrives on the conveyor belt, take a moment to inspect it. Check not only the suitcase shell, but also the handles and wheels. If it’s damaged, head to the claims desk. Here, the officer or clerk in charge will draw up a report on the damage to your luggage. This will include information on the type and make of the suitcase, its age and price.

If you’re in a hurry and can’t spare a few minutes to make a claim, you can also make a claim against the carrier in writing or electronically within seven days of delivery or arrival. In the case of delayed baggage, claims must be made within 21 days of delivery. Carriers have forms available on their websites to guide you through the claim process. The company will then assess whether the damage is repairable (in which case they will collect it and repair it for you), or you can agree financial compensation straight away. Liability for damage to luggage is limited to a cap of approximately 40,000 CZK.

Carriers usually try to repair the luggage in the first instance. Exceptions to this rule are situations where the luggage is very cheap, for example, where it is more cost-effective to buy new luggage than to repair it.

If the airline wants to replace your bag, you can either get an identical bag or another bag of similar quality. At the same time, at least try to have the same baggage features, such as size, colour, number of wheels, etc.

If your luggage was more than two years old, the carrier may offer to buy an identical suitcase, but at an additional cost to you.

What if the train is delayed?

Customers of ČD, or rail passengers in general, have their rights regulated by a European regulation.

Also, in the event of a delay on the railway, the time of the delay is crucial when claiming tickets. If it is more than 60 minutes but less than 120 minutes, you are entitled to a refund of 25% of the ticket price. If the delay is more than 120 minutes, the compensation increases to 50%. Of course, you do not lose your right to transport at the same time.

If you did not buy an individual ticket but have, for example, a monthly ticket, then there is a one-off compensation, e.g. ČD compensates holders of a network ticket with CZK 50 for delays of 60 to 119 minutes; for delays exceeding 120 minutes, the compensation is set at CZK 100.

If you find out before boarding the train that the train is delayed, you have the right to return the ticket and the carrier will refund the fare paid. Another option is to change your ticket so that you can get to your destination as quickly as possible by other means. Again, the carrier should be able to accommodate you.

An interesting fact that is not widely known is that you are entitled to compensation even if you decide not to continue your journey. So if you decide not to use the services of ČD or another carrier at all, you are entitled to a refund of the fare and compensation for the delay. In this case, you should apply for a refund, for example, at the nearest ticket counter. If you bought your ticket online, the refund should be more than CZK 100.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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