work: Know Your Rights

Let's talk about Passenger Rights. Outside of the European Union territory they are valued individually by each airline. Airlines based in the EU and flights departing from the EU instead have to abide by specific EU laws and regulations called 'Passenger Rights'. They have to do so at all times and not only when flying from a EU country.

There's a tricky bit though. The EU has produced a 'Passenger Rights Poster' which you can find scattered around EU airports; however this poster leaves a lot to interpretation, and as things can get quite costly for airlines, these always do their best to interpret regulations in their favour, as much as possible.

Let's take for example, overbooking, something probably a lot of you have experienced.
The Air Passenger Rights poster states that: "... The airline must also give you:
• a choice of either a refund of your ticket (with a free flight back to your
initial point of departure, when relevant) or alternative transport to your
final destination, and
• meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation when necessary (including
transfers) and communication facilities.

Very well. Let's take a bet. You're stuck in Paris because AF (Air France) has overbooked you on a CDG (Paris Charles de Gaulle) to DTW (Detroit) flight. At this point there are no other direct flights and the only way to reach Detroit is by connecting somewhere in the United States. Fine, keep calm! The next connecting solution to Detroit is in 2hours with UA (United Airlines) via ORD (Chicago), however 6hours later there's an AF flight to Cincinnati with an onward connection to Detroit with DL (Delta). Trust me, AF will tell you that they cannot put you on the UA flight but that you can only go on the later AF flight. LIERS!
Try flashing the Air Passenger Rights poster to them, and they will quite rightly say that they are providing 'alternative transport to your final destination'. The text of the EU legislation properly states: "passengers shall be offered the choice between ... (b) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity." Probably 'earliest opportunity' still leaves some room for interpretation, however this should give you more room for manouver when discussing alternative plans. In the case stated above, the UA flight was the earliest opportunity.

You can find the links to the poster and legislation in the list on the right. Print them out and carry them with you when you fly, they might come useful... though I wish you wont need them too often.


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