With so many things that could go wrong when travelling or booking a holiday, like delays, last minute cancellations, providers going bust and natural disasters, knowing your travel rights and where you stand with the law is incredibly important. If you don’t know your rights, you can end up losing out and also run the risk of dishonest or opportunistic companies taking advantage of your lack of knowledge and inexperience. Don’t let anything get in the way of you having an enjoyable travel experience. Brush up on your rights before heading off for peace of mind.
If your flight is delayed
There are few things more excruciating than having to wait any number of extra hours on top of the already tedious time spent hanging around the airport when your flight is delayed, and if you need to be at your destination for a particular time or have a connecting flight, it can be disastrous, not to mention expensive. The terms and conditions surrounding delayed flights vary from airline to airline, and many of them will try and get out of being responsible, reimbursing you, providing you with food and drink and so on. Don’t let them. Read the terms and find out what compensation you are entitled to, and request it. They are unlikely to offer it to you voluntarily. The very least you will get is free refreshments while you wait.
Unfortunately, many airlines put in their terms and conditions that they do not have to pay out if the delays are beyond their control, and this could cover them for things such as bad weather, which means you ultimately lose out as you can’t argue against it. It’s worth looking at these sorts of things prior to booking if a delayed flight could cost you money or cause you to miss something important. Note that if your flight is delayed over five hours and you choose not to travel, you are entitled to a full refund within seven days.
If the flight is cancelled
If you are flying from an airport in Europe with an EU airline and your flight is cancelled at the last minute, the airline must provide you with an adequate replacement flight and cover the cost of your hotel, food and other such essentials while you wait for it. They are not, however, required to pay for any losses you may incur due to the cancellation, for example car hire or accommodation.
If the airline goes bust
This is a rare one, but it can, and does, happen. Luckily, most of those who have booked a package holiday under a tour operator or just a flight are covered by The ATOL Protection Scheme, which is managed by the Civil Aviation Authority. They give refunds and provide return travel for those stuck abroad. However, not every single airline is covered by this scheme, and if you booked everything separately, i.e. a DIY holiday, you may need to double check if the firm you booked with are covered by the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL), as if they aren’t, you may not be entitled to any reimbursements.
How to protect yourself in all cases
As you can see, things are complicated when it comes to travel rights and not everything is black and white. Put simply, you can rarely be sure that you are totally covered by the company alone, which is why so many people invest in insurance to give them some financial security. You can get hold of cheap travel insurance that will cover you for things like delays, cancellations and companies going bust, and there are more pricey options available that cover more.