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Whether we like it or not, flight delays will happen to us eventually, however knowing your rights and options is key to managing this stressful situation efficiently. Understanding the difference between weather-related delays or mechanical issues and knowing your rights within the US or internationally will help determine your next step.
Your Travel Rights
Airlines will never guarantee their flight schedule as oftentimes delays are beyond their control, such as weather and airport traffic. In the case of a weather delay, which may be affecting a number of planes at your airport, it is worth asking a gate agent what compensation is being offered. You may be able to get a meal voucher if it is a longer delay, but in the case of weather, they are not obligated to provide anything.
If, however, your flight is delayed due to a mechanical issue or in some way due to the fault of the airline, the airline must provide certain accommodations depending on the length of the delay. Call your travel agent or your UNIGLOBE 24/7 Rescue Line to explain your situation and they can advise you on your options and assist in getting appropriate compensation from the airline.
If your flight delay is lengthy and isn’t weather-related, call your travel agent or the UNIGLOBE 24/7 Rescue Line to find out what the flight schedules are on alternate airlines and/or alternate routings. If there is a desirable flight with available seats, we can inquire with the airline you were initially booked with if they will endorse your ticket to the second airline. The airline is not required to do so, but many airlines will work with travel agents and passengers to keep you happy, particularly if delays are expected to be lengthy.
For those finding themselves delayed overseas, it is important to note that in Europe airlines in the European Union are required to provide meals and beverages to passengers who are delayed for a long time. EU airlines are also obligated to provide hotel accommodations when a delay necessitates an overnight stay and reimbursement when the delay is five hours or more.
You've Been Bumped
Airlines regularly sell more tickets on a flight than there are seats available as they count on a certain percentage of no-shows. When more passengers check-in than seats are available, the airline will offer alternative flights with some form of additional compensation in order to entice certain passengers to give up their seat. If no one is willing, the airline is forced to deny boarding to some passengers. If you are involuntarily bumped from your flight you have rights as a passenger. US law requires the airline to compensate you if it does not get you to your final destination within an hour of your original arrival time.
If you are bumped without your agreement, you are entitled to compensation, as long as you checked-in for your flight on time.
The level of compensation depends on the length of your flight and the timings of the alternative flight you are offered:
For short-haul flights that cover less than 1,500km:
If the delay is less than two hours, you can claim €125
If the delay is more than two hours, you can claim €250
For medium-haul flights that cover 1,500km – 3,500km, or flights within the EU of more than 1,500km:
If the delay is less than three hours, you can claim €200
If the delay is more than three hours, you can claim €400
For long-haul flights that cover more than 3,500km:
If the delay is less than four hours, you can claim €300
If the delay is more than four hours, you can claim €600