Holiday Compensation Advice

Before now most of us would have seen being stranded in a hot country,as a good thing. But after the Icelandic volcanic eruption, the reality of the situation is very different.

 Disputes lawyer Joanna Smalley from Norwich law firm Steeles Law tells Heart: " The good news is that planes are starting to get off the ground again after the flight ban.  What follows now is the huge task of flying passengers to where they should be.

"European Regulations about flights means there are rules about compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of cancelled and delayed flights into, within and out of the European Union. 

"If your flight is delayed for more than five hours or is cancelled, your airline is obliged to reimburse the cost of your flight within seven days or to offer you an alternative flight.  If you take an alternative flight to another airport, the airline must bear the cost of your travel back to the original airport.

"In the case of a cancelled flight, you would usually be entitled to compensation between EUR 250 and EUR 600.  However, an airline is not obliged to pay compensation where the cancellation is caused by “extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken”.  It is highly likely that this situation will be considered an “extraordinary circumstance”.  

"The Regulation also provides you with a “right to care”, which means that if your flight is delayed for more than two hours or cancelled, the airline should offer you free of charge:

  • Meals and refreshments,
  • Hotel accommodation, where appropriate
  • Transport between the airport and place of accommodation
  • Two free telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or emails.

"We advise you to retain all of your receipts and to keep a record of all additional expenditure you have incurred as a result of the disruptions.  You may have a claim to be reimbursed for this expenditure when you arrive home but airlines are unlikely to do so in any event if you do not have sufficient proof of what you have spent.

"If you book a package holiday where flights and accommodation are included you're in a better position that booking them separately.

"If you have taken out travel insurance, you should check your insurance policy to see whether it can provide you with any further protection.  You may find that your insurer is treating the situation as an “act of god” which may mean that your insurance does not cover you."