YOUR RIGHTS

YOUR RIGHTS

Your rights in case of flight cancellation, delays or overbooking

Civil air transport law

When you travel on an airplane, you’re protected by laws and international conventions that establish rights in your favour. These rights involve, among other things, the payment of compensation in case of a delayed, cancelled, or overbooked flight. The amount of this compensation depends on the distance of the flight, and your entitlement to this amount depends on the origin and destination of the flight, as well as the airline’s country of legal incorporation. We’ll explain the terms later on.

In addition, based on certain criteria inscribed in the laws and conventions, the airline may be required to take care of you in the form of meals, refreshments, accommodation, transportation, and communications.

Most air passengers aren’t aware of their rights and don’t have enough information to file a claim for compensation with the airline. Statistics show that just 2% of the air travellers in question will complete a claims process. And since the process can prove long and tedious, many people get discouraged and drop it. In fact, besides merely delaying the payment, many airlines are reluctant to pay compensation at all and refuse claims by invoking “extraordinary circumstances.”

 

What are extraordinary circumstances?

Airlines aren’t always responsible for flight delays or cancellations. Reasons such as poor weather conditions, strikes (depending on the nature of the strike), and air traffic control restrictions cannot be attributed to the airlines.

When airlines invoke mechanical problems as “extraordinary circumstances,” we automatically contest the decision, pursuant to the STURGEON ruling issued on November 19th, 1999 (joined cases C-402/07 and C-432/07 Sturgeon / Condor Flugdienst GmbH and Böck and others / Air France SA). In this ruling, the Court of Justice of the European Union affirmed that “a technical problem in an aircraft […] is not covered by the concept of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ […] unless that problem stems from events which, by their nature or origin, are not inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned and are beyond its actual control.”

Repairing a breakdown isn’t an extraordinary circumstance, therefore, since aircraft maintenance falls within the context of an airline’s regular activities.

How we can help you

First, FlightClaim.ca will analyze the flight situation you’ve described. If we determine that there’s merit to the case or a chance that you’ll receive compensation, our team will take care of the claims process with the airline, in your name and by means of legal power of attorney. Our team will defend your claim by using all the laws and regulations in effect while relying on cases that have set precedents.

There are three (3) possible outcomes following the receipt of the airline’s decision:

  • Either we will have succeeded in getting compensation for you;
  • Or we will be required to close your case, since ultimately, the flight situation is not the responsibility of the airline;
  • Or we will initiate judicial or extrajudicial proceedings following the decision issued by the airline.

Now, let’s take a look at the international conventions and laws.

Legislation in the European Union

Regulation (EC) 261/2004 of the European Parliament and Council, which entered into force on February 17th, 2005, lays down common rules regarding compensation and assistance for passengers in case of:

    • denial of boarding in case of overbooking;
    • flight cancellation;
    • (significant) flight delay; and
    • when a passenger is transferred to a lower class than that for which the ticket was purchased.

Regulation (EC) 261/2004 applies to flights departing:

  • from an airport located within the European Union (EU), bound for an airport located outside the EU, for all airlines; and
  • from an airport located within the European Union (EU), bound for an airport located within the EU, for all airlines; and
  • from an airport located outside the EU, bound for an airport located within the EU, only for airlines under European jurisdiction.

To put things into context:

We’ve prepared the following table, using AIR CANADA, a Canadian airline, and LUFTHANSA, an airline with a head office in Germany, as examples to better clarify the applicability of the Regulation:

FLIGHT ORIGIN AIR CANADA LUFTHANSA
From within the EU
to within the EU
Applicable Applicable
From within the EU
to outside the EU
Applicable Applicable
From outside the EU
to within the EU
Non-applicable Applicable
From outside the EU
to outside the EU
Non-applicable Non-applicable

Assistance specified in case of a delayed flight (in addition to applicable compensation)

The airline may have to take care of you in the form of meals, refreshments, accommodation, transportation, and communications. Don’t hesitate to inquire at the customer service desk to claim assistance and learn more about your rights.

We’ve prepared the following tables to better explain the assistance specified in case of a delayed flight:

FLIGHT DISTANCE EXPECTED DELAY
1500 to 3500 km Delay of 2 or more hours with respect to the specified departure time
1500 to 3500 km Delay of 3 or more hours with respect to the specified departure time
Over 3500 km Delay of 4 or more hours with respect to the specified departure time
  • Refreshments and sufficient meals given the waiting time; and
  • Two phone calls or sending two telexes, two faxes, or two emails free of charge.

 

FLIGHT DISTANCE

EXPECTED DELAY

For all flights:

  • Under 1500 km
  • 1500 to 3500 km
  • Over 3500 km

Delay of at least 5 hours with respect to the specified departure time

 

  • In addition to the assistance specified above, a refund of the ticket for the part(s) of the trip not carried out and for the part(s) of the trip already carried out that have become pointless with respect to the initial trip plan, and, if applicable,
  • A return flight to the initial point of departure as soon as possible.

FLIGHT DISTANCE

EXPECTED DELAY

FOR ALL FLIGHTS

  • Under 1500 km
  • 1500 to 3500 km
  • Over 3500 km
When the departure time is at least the day after the initially specified departure time

 

  • In addition to the assistance specified above, a refund of the ticket for the part(s) of the trip not carried out and for the part(s) of the trip already carried out that have become pointless with respect to the initial trip plan, and, if applicable,
  • A return flight to the initial point of departure as soon as possible.

Assistance specified in case of a cancelled flight (in addition to applicable compensation)

In case of a cancelled flight, passengers are entitled to be offered the following assistance by the airline:

    • Refreshment and sufficient meals given the waiting time; and
    • Two phone calls or sending two telexes, two faxes, or two emails free of charge; and
    • Accommodation at a hotel for one or more night(s), if necessary.

Passengers are also entitled to be offered by the airline the choice between:

  • A refund of the ticket for the part(s) of the trip not carried out and for the part(s) of the trip already carried out that have become pointless with respect to the initial trip plan, and, if applicable, a return flight to the initial point of departure as soon as possible; or <>Re-routing to their final destination, under comparable transport conditions and as soon as possible; or
  • Re-routing to their final destination, under comparable transport conditions at a later date, at their convenience and subject to the availability of seats.

Compensation specified in case of a delayed, cancelled, or overbooked flight (in addition to assistance)

The specified compensation ranges from 125 to 600 Euros, depending on the distance of your flight and the number of hours that you were delayed in reaching your final destination.

In February 2013, the Air France v. Folkerts ruling clarified that it is the delay on arrival that prevails, not the delay on departure. In addition, this principle also applies to flights with stopovers. If all stages of the trip were booked with and carried out by the same airline, it’s not important to determine which segment of the trip caused the delay.

It should be noted that it’s the time that the doors are opened on arrival that determines the duration of the delay.

FLIGHT SITUATION

COMPENSATION

Delayed flight

Under 1500 km 250 Euros
1500 to 3500 km 250 Euros
Over 3500 km 600 euros * / 300 euros **

*for a delay of four or more hours;

**for a delay of between three and four hours with re-routing..

 

FLIGHT SITUATION

FLIGHT DISTANCE

COMPENSATION

Cancelled flight

WITHRE-ROUTING* *

Flight of 1500 km or less 125 euros
1500 to 3500 km

200 euros

Over 3500 km

300 euros

 

* * When a passenger is offered re-routing to their final destination on another flight, the arrival time of which does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the initially booked flight:

  1. a)   by two hours for flights under 1500 km;
  2. b)   by three hours for flights between 1500 and 3500 km;
  3. c)   by four hours for flights over 3500 km.

 

It’s important to note that if the passenger was informed of the cancellation of the flight at least two weeks before departure or if the airline offered re-routing with a virtually identical flight schedule, the passenger is therefore not entitled to any compensation.

FLIGHT SITUATION

FLIGHT DISTANCE

COMPENSATION

Denial of boarding

(overbooking)

Under 1500 km 250 euros
1500 to 3500 km>

400 euros

Over 3500 km

600 euros

 

  • When an air carrier plans to deny boarding on a flight, it will first ask for volunteers who agree to give up their reservation in exchange for certain advantages, to be negotiated between the parties. Volunteers can also take advantage of the assistance specified above.
  • When the number of volunteers is insufficient, the air carrier can deny boarding to passengers against their will. The air carrier must then compensate the passengers according to the specified compensation levels, in addition to offering them the abovementioned assistance.

The Montréal Convention

The Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, commonly referred to as the “Montréal Convention,” entered into force on June 28th, 2004 with regard to the member states of the European Union. This convention allows us to obtain compensation for expenses incurred (meals, accommodation, etc.) or losses sustained (damage to luggage, lost work or vacation days).
Since this convention does not specify a fixed amount for this purpose, we must refer our clients to small claims court in order to obtain a judgment. We will also offer a preparation service shortly.

Legislation in the United States

Delayed or cancelled flight

The legislation does not specify any rights for air travellers in case of delayed or cancelled flights. However, affected passengers may be offered services as compensation, such as meals, drinks, and hotel rooms, primarily in cases of flights that have been delayed or cancelled due to mechanical problems and – very rarely – in situations of poor weather conditions.

Overbooking

Involuntary denial of boarding

In the United States, the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 14, Aeronautics and Space, Part 250 establishes rules relating to cases of involuntary denial of boarding as well as the conditions that an air traveller must meet in order to qualify for compensation in such cases.
If the passenger qualifies, the compensation offered is the same whether it’s a domestic or an international flight:

Si le passager se qualifie, les compensations offertes sont les mêmes, qu’il s’agisse d’un vol intérieur ou d’un vol international:

0 to 1-hour delay

If the carrier offers re-routing to the scheduled destination to arrive at the passenger’s final destination or first scheduled stopover no later than one hour after the scheduled arrival time of the passenger’s original flight.

No compensation
1 to 4-hour delay

If the carrier offers re-routing to the scheduled destination to arrive at the passenger’s final destination or first scheduled stopover more than one hour but less than four hours after the scheduled arrival time of the passenger’s original flight.

 200% of the fare to the passenger’s final destination or first stopover, to a maximum of $675 US
4-hour + delay

If the carrier offers re-routing to the scheduled destination to arrive at the passenger’s final destination or first scheduled stopover more than four hours after the scheduled arrival time of the passenger’s original flight.

 400% of the fare to the passenger’s final destination or first stopover, to a maximum of $1,350 US

Legislation in Canada

Canada will soon have an air passengers’ bill of rights, , which will enter into force in 2018. .

This bill of rights will establish uniform rules applicable to all airlines in Canada, as well as a process for claiming compensation, along the same lines as Regulation (EC) 261/2004 in the European Union.

This law will establish, among other things, the rights of passengers in the following situations:

  • Denial of boarding in case of overbooking
  • Cancelled flights;
  • Delayed flights;
  • Waiting on the tarmac;
  • Lost or damaged luggage.

Please note: rules relating to the transportation of musical instruments will be created and additional charges for allowing children to be seated with their parents will be abolished.

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