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Airfare refund and compensation: what to know and how to do

For travelers within the European Union, the protections in case of misunderstandings with airlines and flights are very detailed.
In fact, if outside the EU the Montreal Convention is the only hat that gives indications on the protection of the traveler, making them the holder of compensation only for the expenses generated directly by the cancellation / delay of the flight, in the EU we enjoy regulation no. 261/2004, which establishes compensation, reimbursement and assistance rights at the airport in many cases.

Today we are talking about the right to reimbursement of air tickets with the help of the guys from AirHelp, a company that provides assistance services to air passengers who have suffered the cancellation, delay or overbooking of flights.



Index

  1. Cases in which you are entitled to a ticket refund
  2. Cases in which you are entitled to compensation for damages and how much
  3. How to get reimbursement or compensation
  4. User questions and comments

Cases in which you are entitled to a ticket refund

1 - Flight ticket refund for flight delay

According to the European legislation for the protection of passengers, in case of flight delay of more than five hours you can decide to give up the flight and request a full refund of the cost of the ticket.


2 - Airfare refund for canceled flight

The parameters for obtaining a full refund of the purchased ticket are very similar to those relating to a delay of many hours.
When a flight is canceled by the company, it must promptly notify via its official channels (by e-mail or by telephone) within 14 days from the day of the flight booked.

In this case, the company does not have the burden of proposing an alternative flight and must only proceed with the reimbursement, which generally, in these cases, is made in a timely manner to the passenger's current account, without the need for complaints or actions by of the same.

If the communication is made less than 14 days in advance, the first action of the company at the same time as the communication is the proposal of an alternative flight. This can be accepted by the passenger or not.
You have refund rights even if the flight is canceled less than 14 days prior to departure but you do not accept the alternative flight offered by the airline.


3 - Airfare refund for overbooking

All frequent travelers know the risk of overbooking, that is the practice of revenue marketing put into practice by various airlines which consists in selling more tickets than there are seats available on the aircraft.
This practice is based on very complex and precise statistical calculations made by airlines, which deduce in advance the number of passengers who will not show up at the gate for various reasons.
If in the vast majority of cases there are no consequences because the calculations are correct, sometimes all bookers show up at the gate and someone has to stay on the ground.
Passengers who voluntarily give up their flight, after the first announcement of the overbooking by the company, have the right to a full refund on the ticket and repositioning on an alternative flight.


4 - Reimbursement of unused ticket for reasons dependent on the passenger

Even if it is the passenger who gives up a flight or wants it and has to change it, for various reasons, it is possible to have a refund from the company.

Let's start with the flight modification: in general, airlines apply a fee for the flight change, which for some low cost is a fixed rate that can be even higher than the cost of the ticket. But there are exceptions.
According to the European law for the protection of the traveler, changes made within 24 hours of booking are free. This also applies to US-operated flights if there are at least seven days left before the scheduled departure.

If the passenger renounces a flight due to force majeure such as family illness or bereavement, he is entitled to a full refund of the ticket and airport taxes but it is necessary to prove to the company, through the appropriate certificates, that the cause of force majeure has occurred. However, it is good to keep in mind that even if the flight is lost for reasons not listed as "force majeure", the passenger who misses the flight is entitled at least to the refund of airport taxes.


Cases in which you are entitled to compensation for damages and how much

Then there are the cases in which in addition to the simple reimbursement you are also entitled to compensation for damages, since not having reached a planned destination for some time is actually the cause of many inconveniences.
Before knowing the various cases, it is good to keep in mind that when you are entitled to compensation you are always entitled to a full refund.


1 - Compensation in case of delayed flight

It is good to know that when the flight accumulates a delay of any amount, even less than the three-hour ceiling, we can already move to request compensation, which according to a flat-rate scale established by the EU, is equal to:

However, the right to have this compensation expires when the delay of more than three hours is due to extraordinary circumstancesi.e.

  • terrorism risk at the airport (departure or destination),
  • sudden political instability
  • health risk or emergency at the airport (departure or destination),
  • strikes by airport staff but not employees of the company,
  • weather alert.

2 - Compensation in the event of a canceled flight

Compensation is instead a right that is added to the refund in the event that the flight is canceled less than 14 days before boarding.
As specified in the paragraph on canceled flights, if the cancellation is not promptly communicated, you are entitled to a full refund of the ticket but also to claim compensation for damages.

Also in this case, in Europe, the extent of the damage must not be demonstrated with lengthy legal disputes but is established by a flat rate table, which is as follows:


However, even in this case,the right to have this compensation expires when the causes of the cancellation are attributable not to the company but to extraordinary circumstances, primarily to protect passenger safety, that is:

  • terrorism risk at the airport (departure or destination),
  • sudden political instability,
  • health risk or emergency at the airport (departure or destination),
  • strikes by airport staff and therefore lack of the same on the operational level, but not employees of the company,
  • weather alert.

3 - Denied boarding due to Overbooking

We said about overbooking and the related denied boarding that, when this happens, we can give up the flight, in exchange for an alternative flight and any benefits, or it is the company that chooses who remains on the ground.
In the latter case, the airport law gives us the right to compensation, similar if not identical to that of the canceled flight, but without the forfeiture of the right in extraordinary circumstances, because the causes of overbooking are always the same and are responsibility exclusive of the company.

Right to compensation in case of overbooking:

As AirHelp, a multinational company that provides assistance (including legal) to air passengers, always reiterates, both reimbursement and compensation, once ownership by the passenger has been ascertained, can be requested within three years from the incident.

How to get reimbursement or compensation

We come to the "how" to obtain the due refund of the ticket or the compensation together with the refund. First, there are some preliminary things to do, or in any case to be ascertained, namely:

  • Keep all travel documents (tickets, receipts proving the prolonged stay at the airport)
  • Photograph the board attesting to any delay and its extent
  • Do not sign anything without first reading carefully. If in doubt, do not sign anything and take your time, as you have three years to request refunds and compensation.

If from the cases detailed in the previous paragraphs you have ascertained that you are the holder of a refund or compensation + refund you can proceed as follows:

  • You can ask for reimbursement and even compensation directly at the airport, from the desk or from the offices of the company;
  • Or you can search the service area on the airline's website for your canceled or delayed flight.
  • Each company has one: in some cases it is easier to find from the home page, in other cases you have to do a search from the FAQ area.
  • You can use Apps that provide legal intermediation services such as AirHelp, where by entering flight data and a few other simple data you can know in a few clicks and in seconds what you are entitled to.
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