When you travel to or from an airport in the EU, or with a European airline, you have rights if something goes wrong. These come from Regulation (EC) 261/2004 which came into effect in 2005. The Commission for Aviation Regulation is responsible for enforcing EU rules on flights. They have a website for consumers with comprehensive information on your rights when you fly called flightrights.ie.
You have rights if your flight is delayed, cancelled or if you are denied boarding.
|Flight delays can happen. However, if your flight is delayed for more than a certain amount of time, your airline must offer you a number of things, depending on the length of the delay, and the distance to your destination.
Get information on what your airline must provide you with on the flightrights website.
|If your flight is cancelled, regardless of when you are told about the cancellation, your airline must offer you the choice between:
You may be entitled to compensation as well depending on when you found out the flight was cancelled.
Get more information on the flightrights website.
|You may be denied boarding if your flight is overbooked. If this happens, you may choose to take an alternative flight, or you may have no choice in the matter if the airline can’t accommodate you on the plane.
In both of these situations, you are entitled to the three options under cancellations. The airline may also have to provide you with care and assistance, such as meals and accommodation, depending on the situation.
Get more information on the flightrights website.
If you travel outside the EU or with an airline that is not based in the EU, your rights are greatly reduced.
People with a disability or reduced mobility have specific rights when travelling by air. Tour operators, airlines and airport authorities must provide practical help to people with a disability or reduced mobility. Any person who suffers from a disability, whether temporary or permanent and regardless of the reason, is entitled to certain types of assistance when taking a flight. Most importantly any assistance given is free of charge to the passenger.
The airport must look after you and your luggage until you are seated on the plane, after that the airline takes over. Airlines cannot refuse to carry wheelchair users or reduced mobility passengers, however you must inform them if you need assistance at least 48 hours in advance. If you are travelling with a care assistant, the airline should take reasonable steps to seat them near you.
You can avail of assistance for mobility issues in airports in all EU Member States and Norway. For more information about travelling with reduced mobility, see flightrights.ie.
If you are not happy about how you have been treated, you should complain to the airline or airport authority, and if you are not satisfied with their response you can contact the Commission for Aviation Regulation.
There is no price control when it comes to flights. That means airlines can charge different prices for seats on the same flights and routes. Fares increase and decrease regularly due to demand, sale offers etc. Airlines are entitled to do this.
However, they must be clear about pricing. If advertised prices are incorrect or misleading, this could be a breach of consumer protection laws. When you are booking online, the final cost including all charges, must be shown to you before you complete the transaction. Make sure you are not paying for any extras that you don’t want, for example, travel insurance or checked-in bags.
In general, flight tickets are non-fundable, so if you change your mind and are unable to travel, you will not be entitled to a refund. However, you can ask for any Government taxes and charges to be refunded. The airline may charge an administration fee to refund this so you should find out what that will cost.
Information airlines may need before you travel
Some airlines may ask you to give information about yourself, your destination and the purpose of your trip, before you travel. For example, under a law brought in by the US Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, if you are travelling to the US your airline is obliged to supply information about you in advance of you travelling.
Examples of the type of information an airline might ask you for:
- First name (as on passport)
- Family name (as on passport)
- Date of birth
- Passport number
- Country where your passport was issued
- Expiry date of your passport
- Address while you are staying in the country
Delayed, damaged or lost luggage
When you check in a bag, your airline is liable if something happens to it. The airline is liable even if they are not at fault, unless your bag is defective.
In the case of delayed baggage, the airline is responsible, unless it did everything possible to avoid the delay. The Montreal Convention means you can claim compensation for delayed bags. It is very important to hold on to your baggage tag number which you were given when you checked your bag in. The airline will need this to try and trace your bag. Aer Lingus and Ryanair are among the airlines that say they will arrange to have delayed baggage delivered to your local address.
If your bag has not turned up after 21 days it is considered lost. You can claim compensation for lost bags from your airline.
What to do
If your bag has not turned up at the airport when you land, report the problem straight away to your airline in the airport baggage hall and fill in a Property Irregularity Report (PIR). Make sure you keep your boarding card and baggage tag number, and ask for a copy of the PIR so you have a record that you notified the airline. You may also need to provide receipts for anything you are claiming for. You will need to submit a claim to the airline within the following timeframes:
|Damaged bag||complain within 7 days of getting your damaged bag back|
|Delayed bag||complain within 21 days of bag being returned|
|Lost bag||21 days after bag didn’t show up (and within 2 years)|
If you run into problems with a flight, and you do not have consumer rights, you may be able to claim for some of your losses if you have travel insurance. Check your policy terms to see what you can claim for.