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Know Your Flight Rights: Decoding Regulation 261/2004 for Air Passengers

Passenger in an empty plane

Passenger Rights When Traveling by Air

The European Parliament and the Council's Regulation 261/2004, dated 11th February, outline the standard guidelines regarding compensation and support for passengers facing denied boarding, flight cancellations, or significant delays. These rights apply when individuals are unable to board a flight due to overbooking or when their intended flight is delayed or canceled.

This regulation applies to any passenger who meets the following criteria:

  • Departing from an airport within a Member State

  • Departing from an airport in a third country but heading towards a Member State when the flight is operated by a Community carrier

However, these rights are subject to the following conditions:

  • Passengers hold a confirmed reservation for the flight

  • Arrive for check-in within the specified time mentioned on the ticket or communication from the airline. If no specific time is indicated, passengers must check in no less than 45 minutes before the scheduled departure

  • Have been transferred from their initially reserved flight to an alternative one.

Boarding Denial

Before involuntarily denying boarding to passengers, the airline must initially seek volunteers willing to relinquish their reservations in exchange for negotiated benefits. Regardless of such negotiations, these volunteers are entitled to reimbursement or alternate routing as specified below.


In cases where insufficient volunteers come forward, the airline may then proceed with involuntary denial of boarding to passengers. All passengers subjected to such denial must be offered all three forms of compensation and assistance outlined below.


Flight Cancellation

In the event of a flight cancellation, passengers have the right to:

  1. Re-routing to the same destination at the earliest opportunity under similar conditions,

  2. Later rerouting at their convenience to the same destination under comparable conditions, subject to seat availability, or

  3. A ticket refund along with a return flight to the initial departure point, where relevant. The ticket refund comprises the price paid for unused flights plus the cost of any completed flights rendered purposeless due to the cancellation.

Additionally, passengers, where applicable, are entitled to refreshments, communication, and accommodation, irrespective of whether the circumstances leading to the cancellation are extraordinary or not.


Moreover, the airline is obligated to provide compensation as follows:

  • 250 Euros for flights less than 1500 km

  • 400 Euros for EU flights exceeding 1500 km or other flights between 1500 km and 3500 km

  • 600 Euros for flights not within the EU exceeding 3500 km

This compensation is payable to passengers unless the airline notifies them, offering rerouting within specified time limits, or if the cancellation resulted from unavoidable extraordinary circumstances.


Delays

In case of anticipated flight delays, passengers are entitled to refreshments, communication, food, accommodation, and transportation between the airport and accommodation where applicable.


For delays of five hours or more, passengers can opt to abandon their journey and receive a refund for unused tickets.


Passengers reaching their final destination three hours or more past the scheduled arrival time may seek compensation, except in cases where the delay resulted from extraordinary circumstances beyond reasonable measures by the air carrier.


Passenger Notification Obligation

Airlines must display notices at their check-in counters stating passengers' rights concerning boarding denial, flight cancellations, or delays exceeding two hours.

Additionally, in instances of flight cancellations, boarding denials, or delays exceeding two hours, the airline must provide each affected passenger with a written notice detailing their rights under the regulation and the contact details of the national body enforcing the regulation.


Complaint Procedure

For complaints falling under denied boarding, flight cancellations, or significant flight delays, complete the complaint form provided following the specified instructions [link to the complaint form.

For flights departing from Greece or departing from a third country to Greece operated by a Community carrier, the National Enforcement Body for EC 261/2004 Regulation is the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority, contactable at apr@hcaa.gov.gr.



a large jeliner siting on top of airport


Baggage Issues: Lost, Delayed, or Damaged

Whether your baggage is misplaced, delayed, or damaged, the governing legislation in such cases is the Montreal Convention. Under this Convention, the airline's liability for lost or delayed luggage is capped at 1,288 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) per passenger. The daily value of an SDR fluctuates and is tied to exchange rates.


Typically, airlines prefer reimbursing passengers for essential purchases and may require receipts for validation. Some airlines offer a fixed daily amount to cover emergency expenses until the delayed bag is delivered.


In most instances, if your bag hasn't been returned within 21 days after your flight, the airline should consider it lost and settle your claim accordingly. When evaluating your claim, airlines might ask for an inventory of the missing items and original receipts.

Most importantly, passengers need to file a written complaint with the airline within seven days for damaged baggage and within twenty-one days for delayed baggage, counting from the date when the baggage was made available to the passenger.





Right of Disabled Persons of the European Parliament and the Council concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when traveling by air. Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2006 of the European Parliament and of the

Council concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with

reduced mobility when traveling by air.


Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 on the rights of persons with reduced mobility when

using air transport came fully into force on the 26th of July 2008.


This Regulation establishes rules for the protection of, and provision of assistance to

disabled persons, as well as persons with reduced mobility traveling by air, both to

protect them against discrimination and ensure that they receive assistance.

Persons protected by the provisions of the Regulation are all persons whose mobility

when using transport is reduced due to any physical disability (sensory or locomotor,

permanent or temporary), intellectual disability or impairment, age, or any other

cause of disability and whose situation needs appropriate attention and the

adaptation to his or her particular needs of the service made available to all

passengers.


According to the Regulation, no passenger with a disability may be refused a

reservation for a flight or boarding, on the grounds of his or her disability. However,

such a refusal is possible to meet safety requirements established by

International, Community, or national law, or if the size of the aircraft or its doors

makes the embarkation physically impossible.


Passengers protected by the Regulation when making a reservation have to notify

their specific needs, at least 48 hours before the departure time, to receive

the assistance foreseen in the Regulation. The air operator and the airport

managing body are responsible for providing the assistance specified in ANNEX I and

ANNEX II of Regulation 1107/2006, respectively. The assistance is provided free of

charge. If no pre-notification is made, then the managing body of the airport has to

make all reasonable efforts to provide the assistance specified in Annex I of

Regulation 1107/2006.


Airports with annual traffic of more than 150,000 passengers have to establish quality

standards for the assistance they have to provide. These standards are based on

the ECAC Doc 30 and its relevant annexes.


Any passenger who considers that his/her rights have been violated may bring

the matter to the attention of the managing body of the airport or the airline in

question. In case of an unsatisfactory response, a complaint may be filled with or the

competent enforcement body appointed by each Member State of the European

Union.


The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority is the competent body for the enforcement of

Regulation 1107/2006, for all violations which take place in Hellas. Complaints,

that do not fall within the competencies of the Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority, are

forwarded to the competent enforcement body of the Member State concerned.

If your complaint is relevant to an airport managing body/or an airline,

please contact:

Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority




Safety Issue Report Of a Non-Hellenic Air Operator


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