If you’re a traveler, you’ve probably experienced a delay, cancellation, or other unforeseen issue. Of course, no one wants this, but it’s important to be prepared and perhaps most of all, to know your rights and privileges if a problem arises.
So, what are your rights in Europe? Keep reading!
Air Passenger Rights
So, you’ve found yourself at the airport check-in desk, bags packed with holiday clothes, only to learn that your flight is canceled, rerouted, or significantly delayed. Or perhaps you’ve just finished your European vacation and are heading home, rested and bursting with memories and your luck turns. First of all, don’t panic! Take a breath, release your clenched muscles, close your eyes for a second. And then remember that whether you’re traveling to or from Europe, you typically have passenger rights! What’s more, these rights have nothing to do with your nationality, only your travel plans. To know whether you have standing to make a claim, we’ve provided a run-down of the 3 things that are required for compensation:
1. When your rights apply
According to the regulation in the regulation European Union (EU), air passenger rights apply if:
- Your flight is within the EU and operated by either an EU or non-EU airline
- Your flight is scheduled to arrive in the EU from outside of the EU via an EU airline
- Your flight is scheduled to depart from the EU to a non-EU country and operated by an EU airline
- You have not yet received compensation such as rerouting, assistance or other benefits.
An important note: if your flight departs from a country outside the EU and lands in an EU country, the airline must be headquartered in the EU, otherwise you don’t have standing to file a claim under EU regulation.
2. When your flight is canceled, who is responsible?
Who carries the blame if your flight is canceled? That’s a complex question. Since the airline is doing the canceling, you might presume that they hold the responsibility. Sometimes, that’s true. Other times, it’s not the case, particularly when an “extraordinary circumstance” occurs. Say an earthquake takes place or a storm gathers over the airport. If something like this causes a cancellation—an “act of god,” in technical parlance— the airline is not liable. If, however, there’s a technical problem with the airplane or the airline overbooks the flight and bumps you, then your claim is absolutely valid.
3. What’s the timeframe?
If the airline informs you about the cancellation two weeks or less before your flight is scheduled, you have the right to make a claim. That said, a lot depends on when your replacement flight is scheduled and how late you will reach your destination. If the alternative flight does not fall within certain criteria, you might be eligible for compensation. For more details on your rights in the EU, click here.
Rail passenger rights
In general, you have passenger rights if you travel by train within the EU. It’s important to know that when you buy your train ticket, the rail company or vendor is obliged to inform you clearly about delays, security, and safety issues during your trip. If there is a delay or cancellation, the company is further obliged to update you in real time and share information about your rights.
Good to know: if your train is delayed for more than an hour, you may be eligible for compensation. Click here to learn more.
Bus and coach passenger rights
If your planned journey begins or ends in an EU country and a cancellation or delay occurs, you also have rights! These rights mainly apply to long-distance coach services and regular services on specified routes and timetables. For more about your rights as a bus passenger, click here.
Ship passenger rights
When it comes to ferries, cruise ships, and vessels that sail on inland waterways, you have passenger rights in the following situations:
- If you are sailing from an EU port
- If you are sailing to an EU port from outside the EU, but only if the service is operated by an EU company
- If you are sailing from an EU port for pleasure, staying in on-board accommodation, and for more than two nights
However, these rules don’t apply if:
- The ship carries fewer than 12 passengers
- The ship has fewer than 3 crewmembers
- The ship covers a distance of less than 500 meters (one way)
- It’s a historical ship or vessel
- It’s a sightseeing ship, particularly if it does not offer accommodation facilities or host guests for more than 2 nights
What rights do I have if something happens while at sea?
Rest assured, in the case of an incident at sea, EU rules cover you, your luggage, your vehicle, and your mobility equipment. These rights apply both to domestic and international journeys in the following cases:
- If the ship is registered in the EU
- If the contract for the journey was validated in an EU country
- If the ship departs from or arrives in an EU port