Updated March 2020
In light of the COVID-19 travel disruption, the European Consumer Centre Ireland is looking at what rights have changed for air travel passengers at March 2020. Read about the latest changes here:
Regulation (EC) 261/2004 sets out the rights and rules on compensation and assistance to passengers. These are the basic air travel consumer rights you can expect in case of any type of travel disruption:
- Information in a timely manner before, during and after travel
- Care and assistance
- Re-routing or re-booking
- Refund of your ticket
If you have been affected be flight cancellation – whether you were notified well in advance of your scheduled travel date or just before departure – you should be given a choice between:
1) Rerouting to your final destination; or
2) Refund for the part, or parts, of the journey cancelled or not completed due to the cancellation.
If you choose rerouting instead of a refund, the air carrier should offer you an alternative flight to your final destination at the earliest opportunity, or at a later date of your choice subject to the availability of seats.
If the air carrier offers you a flight to an alternative airport in the region, the air carrier must bear the cost of transferring you from that alternative airport to the one in your reservation or to another close-by destination agreed with you.
If the rerouting offered is not suitable and as a result you make your own arrangements and book a flight with a different air carrier you may not be entitled to seek a reimbursement of alternative travel expenses under Regulation (EC) 261/2004.
Similarly, you may not be able to claim consequential expenses if your flight is cancelled and as a result you miss the connecting flight, which was booked separately.
If the bookings were made separately they are regarded as separate contracts and under the terms of the Regulation you can only seek a refund for the cancelled flight.
Care and assistance
Appropriate assistance in respect of meals, refreshments, communication facilities (two telephone calls, faxes or emails) and a hotel accommodation should be provided depending on the flight distance and in reasonable relation to the waiting time.
The Regulation provides that compensation is payable in cases of flight cancellation. The entitlement and the amount varies depending on when you are informed of the cancellation, the arrangements for an alternative flight, the distance of the flight cancelled and the reason of the cancellation.
The general rule is that if you are informed about the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure, the air carrier is not required to pay compensation.
Otherwise, the distance of the flight determines the amount of compensation due:
• €250 per passenger for flights of 1,500km or less
• €400 per passenger for intra-Community flights of more than 1,500km or for other flights between 1,500km and 3,500km
• €600 per passenger for all other flights
The amount of compensation payable may be reduced by 50% if the rerouting offered allows you to arrive at your final destination close to the original scheduled arrival time (within two to four hours depending on the distance of the flight) .
If the air carrier can prove that the cancellation was caused by an extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures were taken, no compensation will be payable. Examples of events which may constitute extraordinary circumstances include bad weather, political unrest, a security threat, unexpected flight safety shortcomings, air traffic control restrictions or strikes that affect the operation of the flight.
The Court of Justice has ruled in case Wallentin-Hermann v Alitalia that a technical problem in an aircraft is not regarded as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ unless the 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”. However, “the fact that an air carrier has complied with the minimum rules on maintenance of an aircraft cannot in itself suffice to establish that” an air carrier has taken “all reasonable measures” to avoid the disruption.
If your cancelled flight was scheduled to depart from Ireland, please visit flightrights.ie for more information.
Your Flight Rights
Should problems arise, such as a flight being cancelled or delayed for any reason, or you are denied boarding, you have significant entitlements and protections under the applicable European Union consumer rights legislation. The legislation covers:
- For queries pertaining to the cancellation of a flight, denied boarding, long delays, or persons with reduced mobility under Regulation (EC) 261/2004, you can contact the Commission for Aviation Regulation.
- For queries and complaints involving Irish airlines, you can contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
- If your consumer complaint was not resolved and your claim does not exceed €2,000, you can avail of the Small Claims Procedure.
- For more information on EU policies or air travel and your general travel rights, please see:
If you are resident in Ireland with a complaint about a trader based in another European Union country, Norway, Iceland or the United Kingdom, and you have tried to resolve the matter directly with the trader to no avail, please contact us for assistance here.Return to top