What to do in the event of delay or suspension of a contracted flight.
Passengers rights: Delays
Regulation (EC) 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, dated 11 February (in force since 17 February 2005), establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of being denied boarding and of the cancellation or long delay of flights.
The Regulation is not applicable if the trip is free or is with a reduced price ticket which is not directly or indirectly available to the public.
Regulation 261/2004 is applicable:
When the flight departs from:
- an EU airport or
- an airport in a non-European Union country - where the regulations do not give compensations and assistance - with the destination of a European Community airport and the carrier in charge of the flight is from the European Union.
Provided that the passenger:
- Has a confirmed booking on the flight, having a ticket (printed or electronic) or other proof that they have been accepted and registered by the airline, and they arrive at the check-in under the required conditions and at the time previously stated in writing, including electronic means (if no time is indicated, at least 45 minutes before the departure time).
- has been transferred from the flight for which they originally had a booking, to another flight.
And they are affected by a delay in the scheduled departure time of:
- 2 or more hours, in the case of all flights of 1,500 kilometres or less, or
- 3 or more hours, in the case of all flights made within the European Community of over 1,500 kilometres and all other flights of between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres, or
- 4 or more hours, for flights not included in the previous sections.
The airline responsible for making the flight will offer them the assistance stated in the "Right to Assistance" section of Overbooking, but will only offer hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and the place of accommodation, when the scheduled departure time of the alternative flight is at least one day after the previously stated time.
When the delay is of more than 5 hours, the airline will offer to refund passengers, within 7 days, the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, corresponding to the part of the trip not made (i.e. if they decided not to fly), and to the part made, if the flight no longer serves any purpose in relation to the passenger's original travel plan, and, where appropriate, a return flight as quickly as possible to the original point of departure.
The right to compensation for delays does not form part of Ruling EC 261/2004. However, on 19 November 2009, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled on the cases C-402/07 and C-432/07, by which the right to economic compensation may be claimed, in accordance with article 7 of Ruling EC 261/2004, in certain types of delays.
This right to compensation appears when passengers suffer a loss of time or three or more hours in arriving at their final destination; i.e., when they arrive at their final destination three or more hours later than the arrival time originally scheduled by the airline.
Meanwhile, air transport users also enjoy the right to economic compensation through the Montreal Agreement, which establishes that an EU airline (or non-EU when it carries out international transport, in accordance with the Montreal Agreement) is responsible for losses arising from delays in air passenger transport, and although no automatic economic compensation may exist for passengers affected by the delay, this responsibility is quantified as a maximum of 4694 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) per passenger.
The Special Drawing Right is a unit defined by the International Monetary Fund, whose value is the sum of certain quantities of different currencies: US dollar, euro, Japanese yen and British pound. The updated value in US dollars can be consulted on the website of the International Monetary Fund (www.imf.org). The equivalent in euros can be found on the website of the Bank of Spain (www.bde.es).
However, the airline shall not be liable for losses arising from delays if it can prove it has taken all the reasonable measures necessary to avoid the damage or that it was impossible to take the said measures.
You should contact the airline to claim this compensation. And, if you do not receive a response or if you do not agree with it, you can resort to the appropriate courts.