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The European Union offers some passenger friendly protection that you can turn to if an airline bumps you on a flight within, from, or to the EU.

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Your Rights if Denied Boarding on Your Flight to or within the European Union

The EU's Official Policy
 

The EU now has comprehensive and helpful information and rights published for passengers on EU flights.

Part of a series on being bumped from flights, see the other articles in this series listed on the right.

 

 

Even though you might be in a foreign country, and flying a foreign airline, all is not lost if you're bumped off a flight in an EU nation.

A comprehensive set of air passenger rights - better than we have in the US - gives you protection in many different situations when you have problems with your air travel.

On this page we consider your rights in the case you're bumped off a flight in the EU.

Your Official Rights within the European Union

In 2004 the European Union introduced a standard set of airline passenger rights that covers a range of different problems and what the airlines must do in such cases.  This regulation is generally referred to as 261/2004.

These rights apply to all flights that depart from any airport within the EU, and to any flights that depart from other places in the world if the flight is flying in to the EU and the airline is based in the EU.

Included is a section on your rights if you are bumped off a flight.

The full text of the regulation can be seen here, and is shown, formatted and slightly Americanized, below.  Comments in [square brackets] are mine.  You might wish to print off a copy of this and keep it with your travel documents, just in case you ever need to refer to it at an airport.

See also our page about what to do if you are involuntarily denied boarding for more advice and suggestions about how to handle such a situation.

This information from Britain's Civil Aviation Authority also gives you helpful advice about what to do if you have a problem and the airline is unhelpful in solving it.


Article 4

Denied boarding

1. When an operating air carrier reasonably expects to deny boarding on a flight, it shall first call for volunteers to surrender their reservations in exchange for benefits under conditions to be agreed between the passenger concerned and the operating air carrier.  Volunteers shall be assisted in accordance with Article 8, such assistance being additional to the benefits mentioned in this paragraph.

2. If an insufficient number of volunteers comes forward to allow the remaining passengers with reservations to board the flight, the operating air carrier may then deny boarding to passengers against their will.

3. If boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the operating air carrier shall immediately compensate them in accordance with Article 7 and assist them in accordance with Articles 8 and 9.

Article 7

Right to compensation

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall receive compensation amounting to:

(a) EUR250 for all flights of 1500 kilometers [938 miles] or less;

(b) EUR400 for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometers, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometers [938 - 2188 miles];

(c) EUR600 for all flights not falling under (a) or (b).

In determining the distance, the basis shall be the last destination at which the denial of boarding or cancellation will delay the passenger's arrival after the scheduled time.

2. When passengers are offered re-routing to their final destination on an alternative flight pursuant to Article 8, the arrival time of which does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked

(a) by two hours, in respect of all flights of 1500 kilometers [938 miles] or less; or

(b) by three hours, in respect of all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometers and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometers [938 - 2188 miles]; or

(c) by four hours, in respect of all flights not falling under (a) or (b), the operating air carrier may reduce the compensation provided for in paragraph 1 by 50%.

3. The compensation referred to in paragraph 1 shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank checks or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services.

4. The distances given in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be measured by the great circle route method.

Article 8

Right to reimbursement or re-routing

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered the choice between :

(a) reimbursement within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger's original travel plan, together with, when relevant, a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest opportunity;

(b) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity; or

(c) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date at the passenger's convenience, subject to availability of seats.

2. Paragraph 1(a) shall also apply to passengers whose flights form part of a package, except for the right to reimbursement where such right arises under Directive 90/314/EEC.

3. When, in the case where a town, city or region is served by several airports, an operating air carrier offers a passenger a flight to an airport alternative to that for which the booking was made, the operating air carrier shall bear the cost of transferring the passenger from that alternative airport either to that for which the booking was made, or to another close-by destination agreed with the passenger.

Article 9

Right to care

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered free of charge :

(a) meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time;

(b) hotel accommodation in cases
— where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or
— where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary;

(c) transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel or other).

2. In addition, passengers shall be offered free of charge two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.

3. In applying this Article, the operating air carrier shall pay particular attention to the needs of persons with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them, as well as to the needs of unaccompanied children.


Part of a series on being bumped from flights, see the other articles in this series listed on the top right.

 

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Originally published 17 Jul 2009, last update 02 Jul 2017

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
Related Articles
All about airline overbooking of flights
How to reduce your chances of being involuntarily bumped
Volunteering to be bumped
What to do if you are involuntarily bumped
How to negotiate the best bumping compensation part 1
How to negotiate the best bumping compensation part 2
Your legal rights if bumped in the US
Your legal rights if bumped in the EU
Is the DoT Trying to Embarrass the Airlines part 1
Is the DoT Trying to Embarrass the Airlines part 2
New legal rights in the US 2011
 
 

 


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