Do You Know Your Flying Rights?
For a travel manager, it’s critical to know a business traveler’s flying rights. Not everything goes according to plan, so knowing what situations qualify as eligible for reimbursement can soften the blow of unexpected issues.
Here is a simple guide to everything you need to know when it comes to a passenger’s flying rights within the EU:
The Golden Rule
It’s pretty obvious that airlines employ a variety of tricks to squeeze a few more Euro out of a customer. Despite how annoying they can be, they’re totally legal. What’s not is being charged a higher price for a plane ticket because of nationality or the location where the purchase is being made. If you suspect this to be the case, it’s grounds for a complaint — and a travel manager’s pool of data can help prove if discriminatory practices are being applied.
Or, travel managers can avoid this altogether by using a travel management solution that searches for the best prices on their behalf!
If things go south during the trip, you have rights!
Traveling employees already have enough to deal with when it comes to being prepared and on-time for a flight. But when things go south, employees may not be aware that they’re entitled for reimbursement and/or compensation should their flight be delayed, cancelled, or overbooked. This is normal: In general, not many people are.
In addition, these rights apply if the business traveler is **departing from any airport within the EU or arriving in the EU with an EU carrier, or a carrier from Iceland, Norway, or Switzerland. **
Claim a refund or be entitled to alternative transportation if…
Should something go wrong while attempting to board, the number one thing most traveling employees think is an alternative way to get to their destination. Since it’s a business trip, it’s usually extremely important to make the trip, even if they’re late. Luckily, passengers who are denied boarding or whose flight is cancelled or overbooked are eligible for transport to their final destination using alternate means provided by the airline. This kills two birds with one stone, and is perfect for travel managers who want to ensure money doesn’t go to waste.
Alternatively, ticket refunds can be claimed as well, even if it does nothing to help a traveling employee actually get to their destination. Long delays of five or more hours also allow for refund claims, but should a company claim one, an airline need not provide any further travel assistance.
Travel managers should stay informed about the parameters necessary for airline reimbursement when their employees fly. If an employee is denied boarding, or their flight is cancelled or arrives more than three hours late to its final destination, between EUR 250 – 600 can be claimed, depending on the distance of the flight.
Traveling 1,500km or less within in the EU is eligible for EUR 250 in compensation. Anything over that total qualifies for EUR 400. For international travel, another tier is added covering any trip over 3,500km. This qualifies for EUR 600 in compensation.
Keep in mind that cancelled flights won’t receive compensation if the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances (i.e. adverse weather conditions like heavy snow, strikes by ground staff, political circumstance, a sick care member or passenger), **a prior notice was given two weeks before the scheduled flight date, or the airline offered an alternative route with a similar schedule. **
Still, if extraordinary circumstances do completely ruin a flight, the carrier must still offer a full or partial refund, alternative transport to the final destination, or rebooking at a later date. Above all, airlines must provide assistance in some form while waiting for alternative transport
Ultimately, make sure you talk to your airline. Every situation is different and there are often no clear distinctions between what may or may not be considered extraordinary circumstances.
The nightmare scenario of every traveling employee is the case of lost, damaged, or delayed luggage. Luckily, should the airline be at fault, up to EUR 1,220 can be claimed as compensation. If an employee knows they’ll be flying with expensive items, a special advance declaration can be made to the airline that can unlock a higher compensation — for a fee. Travel managers would do well to ensure their traveling employees are appropriately covered. While in some cases luggage is lost for good, that money can go a long way to reimbursing an employee for their goods.
Keep in mind: most claims are required to be filed seven days from receipt of the luggage (21 days if it was delayed), while legal action must be pursued two years from the date the luggage arrives.
To avoid an unpleasant fate for an employee’s belongings in the the first place, managers can encourage their employees to travel early and travel light. It’s proven that doing both makes the unexpected much less likely to occur.