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EU Regulation 261/2004: Know your air travel rights

Many experts consider the EU laws more harsh for air carriers and favourable to passengers in comparison to the similar federal laws in the US.

Under the EU Regulation EC 261 2004 rule, air passengers are entitled to compensation up to 600€ for flight delays of 3+ hours, flight cancellations without prior notice, and denied boarding due to overbooking.

It doesn’t matter if you had different citizenship. Passengers outside of EU can even ask for compensation for delayed, cancelled or overbooked flight if …

  • the departure was from an EU airport, or
  • landed at an EU airport with a EU-registered airline.

We are one of the leading air travellers rights activists in Europe. We are willing to undertake to file claims for compensation on behalf of US citizens, or passengers who had flight in or out of the European Union.

The domestic claims for US airlines are beyond the present scope of our services.

Every passenger has the rights to compensation

Similar to the rights provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to all the air travellers in the United States, the rights to ask for compensation for delayed or cancelled flights in the skies of European Union is covered under EC Regulation 261/2004.

One need not necessarily be an EU citizen to file a claim for delayed and cancelled flights. US citizens can also avail this facility.

EC Regulation 261 was made in the year 2004 and several rulings since then have served to clarify the most suitable ways to file delayed flight compensation claims.

EC 261 Passenger Compensation Regulation has established common rules regarding compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights.

The financial compensation by the passenger is admissible only if the airline was responsible for the delay or cancellation of the flight.

Am I eligible for compensation under EU Regulation 261 2004?

If the delay or cancellation was due to airlines fault, you may be eligible for compensation. Whereas to claim compensation there are certain criteria ...

  • Flight Delay: Your flight arrived later than 3 hours at the final destination.
  • Flight Cancellation: Your flight was cancelled without prior notice of at least 14 days before departure.
  • Flight Overbooking: Your flight was overbooked and you were denied boarding.
  • Missed Connection: Due to delay or cancellation of your first leg, you missed the second leg. In such cases, you may ask for refund of the part of journey not covered, and return flight to original destination.

Can you claim compensation for flight delays under EC Regulation 261/2004?

Since EC Regulation 261/2004 is European law, it applies to EU air space. You do not have to be an EU citizen to claim compensation for delayed flights.

Thus, even if you are an US citizen, you can claim on flights departed from any airport located in the EU member states (with any airline), or arrived in the EU (with an EU airline). EU 261 rule is even applicable for UK, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.

The territory chart mentioned here under summarizes the scope of applicability of the above statute. In the chart, 'No' means you cannot claim compensation, and 'Yes' means you are eligible for compensation.

Origin and Destination LEU Airline Non-EU Airline
Inside EU To Inside EU Yes Yes
Inside EU To Outside EU Yes Yes
Outside EU To Inside EU Yes No
Outside EU To Outside No No

EU261 Delay Compensation

As per EU laws, the passenger can claim financial compensation for delays of more than 3 hours. In case of cancellation or overbooking, if the airline provides you alternate flight that gets delayed, the compensation amount may be reduced by 50%.

Flight Delay Based Compensation Amount

Length of Delay Travel Distance Receivable Compensation
Up to 2 hours 59 mins Any Distance No
3+ hours Less than 1500 km €250 (approx. $280 )
Between 1500 km to 3500 km €400 (approx. $450)
More than 1500 km and within EU (I) €400 (approx. $450)
3 to 4 hours 3500+ km and Flight from EU to Non-EU airport (II) €300 (approx. $340)
4+ hours 3500+ km and Flight from EU to Non-EU airport (III) €600 (approx. $680)
Note:
  1. For internal flights within EU, you can demand up to 400 Euros.
  2. For the flight that originated from an EU airport but lands 3-4 hours later at an airport outside the EU, the airlines should reimburse you up to 300 Euros.
  3. Whereas, if the flight originated from an EU airport but lands later than 4 hours at an airport outside the EU, then you can demand up to 600 Euros.

Flight Cancellation compensation

You can claim compensation for a cancelled flight if the information of cancellation of the scheduled or booked flight is not provided at least 14 days before the scheduled time of departure.

In line with EU Passenger Rights Regulation 261/2004, you can claim compensation for flight cancellations up to €600 ($680) per person.

The amount of compensation depends on the length of delay and the route distance.

  • If the delay is more than 3 hours and the distance is within 1500 km you can claim €250
  • If the delay is more than 3 hours and the distance is between 1500 km to 3500 km you can claim €400
  • If the delay is more than 4 hours and the distance is more than 3500 km you can claim €600

Use our Compensation Calculator to determine the exact amount of the sum you can ask for flight cancellation.

Denied Boarding Compensation

The amount of compensation you can claim for denied boarding ranges between €250 and €600 and it depends on the distance between your original departure and your final destination, and whether your flight was in the European Region or not.

The DOT (Department of Transport) guidelines in the US and EEC (European Economic Council) guidelines applicable for all member states of the European Union provide adequate financial compensations for bumped passengers.

The US Federal law requires compensation of $650/$1300 or 200%/400% of the one-way fare, whichever is lower and is termed as DBC (Denied Boarding Compensation).

Both US and EU guidelines mandate that the DBC or financial compensation for bumped passengers is payable to the passenger holding Zero fare tickets or promotional tickets as well.

Missed Connecting Flights

In order to claim compensations for missed flight connections due to delays, it is necessary for the passenger to book the entire journey under one ticket or one booking reference. In case you have booked separately the two legs, your claim for missed flight due to delay is not admissible for compensation.

What are 'Extraordinary Circumstances'?

If the flight was delayed or cancelled due to 'Acts of God', the airline may not be liable for financial compensation. But still cannot shy from its duty to provide care (For eg. refreshments, phone calls and/or accommodation) to travelers similar to Customer Service Plans mandated by the U.S. Federal law for passenger services during such contingencies.

The table below serves well to understand the commonly defined 'Acts of God' circumstances which shield the airline to pay monetary compensation.

Strike Bad Weather Technical Problem
The Act of God(no financial compensation) A strike is an act of god and you do not get compensation. Bad weather like Volcanic eruption and ice rain are acts of god. Are act of god if the airline could not have foreseen or avoided the technical problem.
Non-act of god (compensation) But only, if the delay of the flight can be avoided. If other airlines are able to fly on strikes there might be the possibility to claim. It is not an act of god if it could have been avoided by the airline, for example by cleaning the runway correctly or shelter the plane. It is not an act of god if it could be avoided, for example by catching birds at the runway, keep spare parts...

The table above may appear confusing to many readers since the subtle differences in circumstances or facts may have a huge impact on the validity of your claim admission by the airlines.

How we can help you for compensation?

Our long experience in this field coupled with a strong database of flight delay as well as pertinent case rulings enables us to pitch these differences meaningfully before authorities while making financial claims for legitimate compensation on your behalf.

Besides, we also have a team of expert lawyers to bring your case to court, if required, to press your rightful claim. You just need to fill the claim form over our website, give all the details like flight number, flight date etc.

Also, you can download our free flight delay compensation letter template to make your claim to the airline directly at no cost. This will ensure that your letter is complete without missing all the relevant details in compliance with EU 261 rule.

In practice, many airlines tend to take refuge behind the “Acts of God” clause for flight delays or cancellations to avoid financial burden arising out of compensation payments. An individual customer often has limited knowledge about his or her rights or access to the database to challenge the misplaced contention of the airline.

An operating air carrier must provide each passenger affected with written notice setting out the rules for compensation in case of flights gets delayed or cancelled.

The expert services of Claim Flights can be of enormous help to air travellers. We enable the air passenger to make claim for delayed or cancelled flights in the most suitable manner.

Once we contact the airlines on your behalf, the airlines may agree to pay compensation while they would not have ordinarily responded to the individual passenger’s similar claim.

Our specialists often discuss your claim case with the airline where they cite relevant case laws and historic rulings to establish the validity of your claim.

We have numerous instances to our credit where we could get the claim successfully for our clients which was previously denied by the airlines when they were contacted directly by the passenger.

What are the 'Rights to Care'?

  • Meals & Refreshments
  • The passengers of the delayed flights need to be provided reasonable meal or refreshments free of cost to the passengers in relation to the quantum of delay and circumstances.

  • Communications
  • In the event of a delay, the airline should provide at least two telephone calls, Fax messages or emails facilities to the passengers.

  • Hotel accommodation
  • The airline is duty bound to provide free hotel accommodation near the airport for an overnight delay.

  • Transport
  • The airline must provide you with transport between the hotel and airport.

Useful tips and timeline to claim compensation for delayed and cancelled flights

Just like in the US, the passengers in the EU zone have to ensure that they have reported to the gate positively within the time limit parameter for boarding your booked flight.

The airline should not have any grounds to reject your claim on this account (which is very common for them) or raise counterclaim that the passenger did not wish to fly.

The following tips may be very useful for the passengers ...

If your flight gets delayed:

  • Stay at the gate and listen to the announcements
  • Try to collect some ‘proof of delay’ (e.g. take a photo of the departure board with your smartphone)
  • Ask for the reason for the delay

If your flight gets cancelled shortly before it was due to take off:

  • Try to collect evidence of the cancellation (for example archive emails or printed letters)
  • Try to check-in (so that the airline cannot claim that you were not there)
  • Take a photo of the information board with your Smartphone
  • If possible exchange your business card with other passengers who can act as a witness of the fact you were there.

Can I claim compensation for Holiday Packages?

According to the EC Regulation on flight compensation, the air passenger also gets protection for Travel packages.

Usually, a package involves two travel elements, for example, a flight and hotel. The rule applies only to those packages that are purchased within the EU Member States. However, if the trip is scheduled for a destination outside the EU, even then you can get this protection.

The trip organizer needs to mention the time and location of the flights connections and stopovers in written form. If there is anything missing from the above-mentioned data then it is solely the responsibility of the tour organizer.

If the terms and conditions are not met properly, the airlines can revise the price of the compensation.

REGULATION (EC) No 261/2004 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 11 February 2004

establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91

(Text with EEA relevance)

THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,

Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community, and in particular Article 80(2) thereof,

Having regard to the proposal from the Commission(1),

Having regard to the opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee(2),

After consulting the Committee of the Regions,

Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 251 of the Treaty(3), in the light of the joint text approved by the Conciliation Committee on 1 December 2003,

Whereas:

  • Action by the Community in the field of air transport should aim, among other things, at ensuring a high level of protection for passengers. Moreover, full account should be taken of the requirements of consumer protection in general.
  • Denied boarding and cancellation or long delay of flights cause serious trouble and inconvenience to passengers.
  • While Council Regulation (EEC) No 295/91 of 4 February 1991 establishing common rules for a denied boarding compensation system in scheduled air transport(4) created basic protection for passengers, the number of passengers denied boarding against their will remains too high, as does that affected by cancellations without prior warning and that affected by long delays.
  • The Community should therefore raise the standards of protection set by that Regulation both to strengthen the rights of passengers and to ensure that air carriers operate under harmonised conditions in a liberalised market.
  • Since the distinction between scheduled and non-scheduled air services is weakening, such protection should apply to passengers not only on scheduled but also on non-scheduled flights, including those forming part of package tours.
  • The protection accorded to passengers departing from an airport located in a Member State should be extended to those leaving an airport located in a third country for one situated in a Member State, when a Community carrier operates the flight.
  • In order to ensure the effective application of this Regulation, the obligations that it creates should rest with the operating air carrier who performs or intends to perform a flight, whether with owned aircraft, under dry or wet lease, or on any other basis.
  • This Regulation should not restrict the rights of the operating air carrier to seek compensation from any person, including third parties, in accordance with the law applicable.
  • The number of passengers denied boarding against their will should be reduced by requiring air carriers to call for volunteers to surrender their reservations, in exchange for benefits, instead of denying passengers boarding, and by fully compensating those finally denied boarding.
  • Passengers denied boarding against their will should be able either to cancel their flights, with reimbursement of their tickets, or to continue them under satisfactory conditions, and should be adequately cared for while awaiting a later flight.
  • Volunteers should also be able to cancel their flights, with reimbursement of their tickets, or continue them under satisfactory conditions, since they face difficulties of travel similar to those experienced by passengers denied boarding against their will.
  • The trouble and inconvenience to passengers caused by cancellation of flights should also be reduced. This should be achieved by inducing carriers to inform passengers of cancellations before the scheduled time of departure and in addition to offer them reasonable re-routing, so that the passengers can make other arrangements. Air carriers should compensate passengers if they fail to do this, except when the cancellation occurs in extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
  • Passengers whose flights are cancelled should be able either to obtain reimbursement of their tickets or to obtain re-routing under satisfactory conditions, and should be adequately cared for while awaiting a later flight.
  • As under the Montreal Convention, obligations on operating air carriers should be limited or excluded in cases where an event has been caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. Such circumstances may, in particular, occur in cases of political instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with the operation of the flight concerned, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and strikes that affect the operation of an operating air carrier.
  • Extraordinary circumstances should be deemed to exist where the impact of an air traffic management decision in relation to a particular aircraft on a particular day gives rise to a long delay, an overnight delay, or the cancellation of one or more flights by that aircraft, even though all reasonable measures had been taken by the air carrier concerned to avoid the delays or cancellations.
  • In cases where a package tour is cancelled for reasons other than the flight being cancelled, this Regulation should not apply.
  • Passengers whose flights are delayed for a specified time should be adequately cared for and should be able to cancel their flights with reimbursement of their tickets or to continue them under satisfactory conditions.
  • Care for passengers awaiting an alternative or a delayed flight may be limited or declined if the provision of the care would itself cause further delay.
  • Operating air carriers should meet the special needs of persons with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them.
  • Passengers should be fully informed of their rights in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, so that they can effectively exercise their rights.
  • Member States should lay down rules on sanctions applicable to infringements of the provisions of this Regulation and ensure that these sanctions are applied. The sanctions should be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.
  • Member States should ensure and supervise general compliance by their air carriers with this Regulation and designate an appropriate body to carry out such enforcement tasks. The supervision should not affect the rights of passengers and air carriers to seek legal redress from courts under procedures of national law.
  • The Commission should analyse the application of this Regulation and should assess in particular the opportunity of extending its scope to all passengers having a contract with a tour operator or with a Community carrier, when departing from a third country airport to an airport in a Member State.
  • Arrangements for greater cooperation over the use of Gibraltar airport were agreed in London on 2 December 1987 by the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom in a joint declaration by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the two countries. Such arrangements have yet to enter into operation.
  • Regulation (EEC) No 295/91 should accordingly be repealed,

HAVE ADOPTED THIS REGULATION

Article 1

Subject

1. This Regulation establishes, under the conditions specified herein, minimum rights for passengers when:

(a) they are denied boarding against their will;

(b) their flight is cancelled;

(c) their flight is delayed.

2. Application of this Regulation to Gibraltar airport is understood to be without prejudice to the respective legal positions of the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom with regard to the dispute over sovereignty over the territory in which the airport is situated.

3. Application of this Regulation to Gibraltar airport shall be suspended until the arrangements in the Joint Declaration made by the Foreign Ministers of the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom on 2 December 1987 enter into operation. The Governments of Spain and the United Kingdom will inform the Council of such date of entry into operation.

Article 2

Definitions

For the purposes of this Regulation:

(a) "air carrier" means an air transport undertaking with a valid operating licence;

(b) "operating air carrier" means an air carrier that performs or intends to perform a flight under a contract with a passenger or on behalf of another person, legal or natural, having a contract with that passenger;

(c) "Community carrier" means an air carrier with a valid operating licence granted by a Member State in accordance with the provisions of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2407/92 of 23 July 1992 on licensing of air carriers(5);

(d) "tour operator" means, with the exception of an air carrier, an organiser within the meaning of Article 2, point 2, of Council Directive 90/314/EEC of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours(6);

(e) "package" means those services defined in Article 2, point 1, of Directive 90/314/EEC;

(f) "ticket" means a valid document giving entitlement to transport, or something equivalent in paperless form, including electronic form, issued or authorised by the air carrier or its authorised agent;

(g) "reservation" means the fact that the passenger has a ticket, or other proof, which indicates that the reservation has been accepted and registered by the air carrier or tour operator;

(h) "final destination" means the destination on the ticket presented at the check-in counter or, in the case of directly connecting flights, the destination of the last flight; alternative connecting flights available shall not be taken into account if the original planned arrival time is respected;

(i) "person with reduced mobility" means any person whose mobility is reduced when using transport because of any physical disability (sensory or locomotory, permanent or temporary), intellectual impairment, age or any other cause of disability, and whose situation needs special attention and adaptation to the person's needs of the services made available to all passengers;

(j) "denied boarding" means a refusal to carry passengers on a flight, although they have presented themselves for boarding under the conditions laid down in Article 3(2), except where there are reasonable grounds to deny them boarding, such as reasons of health, safety or security, or inadequate travel documentation;

(k) "volunteer" means a person who has presented himself for boarding under the conditions laid down in Article 3(2) and responds positively to the air carrier's call for passengers prepared to surrender their reservation in exchange for benefits.

(l) "cancellation" means the non-operation of a flight which was previously planned and on which at least one place was reserved.

Article 3

Scope

1. This Regulation shall apply:

(a) to passengers departing from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies;

(b) to passengers departing from an airport located in a third country to an airport situated in the territory of a Member State to which the Treaty applies, unless they received benefits or compensation and were given assistance in that third country, if the operating air carrier of the flight concerned is a Community carrier.

2. Paragraph 1 shall apply on the condition that passengers:

(a) have a confirmed reservation on the flight concerned and, except in the case of cancellation referred to in Article 5, present themselves for check-in,

- as stipulated and at the time indicated in advance and in writing (including by electronic means) by the air carrier, the tour operator or an authorised travel agent,

or, if no time is indicated,

- not later than 45 minutes before the published departure time; or

(b) have been transferred by an air carrier or tour operator from the flight for which they held a reservation to another flight, irrespective of the reason.

3. This Regulation shall not apply to passengers travelling free of charge or at a reduced fare not available directly or indirectly to the public. However, it shall apply to passengers having tickets issued under a frequent flyer programme or other commercial programme by an air carrier or tour operator.

4. This Regulation shall only apply to passengers transported by motorised fixed wing aircraft.

5. This Regulation shall apply to any operating air carrier providing transport to passengers covered by paragraphs 1 and 2. Where an operating air carrier which has no contract with the passenger performs obligations under this Regulation, it shall be regarded as doing so on behalf of the person having a contract with that passenger.

6. This Regulation shall not affect the rights of passengers under Directive 90/314/EEC. This Regulation shall not apply in cases where a package tour is cancelled for reasons other than cancellation of the flight.

Article 4

Denied boarding

1. When an operating air carrier reasonably expects to deny boarding on a flight, it shall first call for volunteers to surrender their reservations in exchange for benefits under conditions to be agreed between the passenger concerned and the operating air carrier. Volunteers shall be assisted in accordance with Article 8, such assistance being additional to the benefits mentioned in this paragraph.

2. If an insufficient number of volunteers comes forward to allow the remaining passengers with reservations to board the flight, the operating air carrier may then deny boarding to passengers against their will.

3. If boarding is denied to passengers against their will, the operating air carrier shall immediately compensate them in accordance with Article 7 and assist them in accordance with Articles 8 and 9.

Article 5

Cancellation

1. In case of cancellation of a flight, the passengers concerned shall:

(a) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 8; and

(b) be offered assistance by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 9(1)(a) and 9(2), as well as, in event of re-routing when the reasonably expected time of departure of the new flight is at least the day after the departure as it was planned for the cancelled flight, the assistance specified in Article 9(1)(b) and 9(1)(c); and

(c) have the right to compensation by the operating air carrier in accordance with Article 7, unless:

(i) they are informed of the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure; or

(ii) they are informed of the cancellation between two weeks and seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than two hours before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than four hours after the scheduled time of arrival; or

(iii) they are informed of the cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure and are offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no more than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and to reach their final destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival.

2. When passengers are informed of the cancellation, an explanation shall be given concerning possible alternative transport.

3. An operating air carrier shall not be obliged to pay compensation in accordance with Article 7, if it can prove that the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

4. The burden of proof concerning the questions as to whether and when the passenger has been informed of the cancellation of the flight shall rest with the operating air carrier.

Article 6

Delay

1. When an operating air carrier reasonably expects a flight to be delayed beyond its scheduled time of departure:

(a) for two hours or more in the case of flights of 1500 kilometres or less; or

(b) for three hours or more in the case of all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres and of all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres; or

(c) for four hours or more in the case of all flights not falling under (a) or (b),

passengers shall be offered by the operating air carrier:

(i) the assistance specified in Article 9(1)(a) and 9(2); and

(ii) when the reasonably expected time of departure is at least the day after the time of departure previously announced, the assistance specified in Article 9(1)(b) and 9(1)(c); and

(iii) when the delay is at least five hours, the assistance specified in Article 8(1)(a).

2. In any event, the assistance shall be offered within the time limits set out above with respect to each distance bracket.

Article 7

Right to compensation

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall receive compensation amounting to:

(a) EUR 250 for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less;

(b) EUR 400 for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres;

(c) EUR 600 for all flights not falling under (a) or (b).

In determining the distance, the basis shall be the last destination at which the denial of boarding or cancellation will delay the passenger's arrival after the scheduled time.

2. When passengers are offered re-routing to their final destination on an alternative flight pursuant to Article 8, the arrival time of which does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked

(a) by two hours, in respect of all flights of 1500 kilometres or less; or

(b) by three hours, in respect of all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres; or

(c) by four hours, in respect of all flights not falling under (a) or (b),

the operating air carrier may reduce the compensation provided for in paragraph 1 by 50 %.

3. The compensation referred to in paragraph 1 shall be paid in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with the signed agreement of the passenger, in travel vouchers and/or other services.

4. The distances given in paragraphs 1 and 2 shall be measured by the great circle route method.

Article 8

Right to reimbursement or re-routing

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered the choice between:

(a) - reimbursement within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), of the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger's original travel plan, together with, when relevant,

- a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest opportunity;

(b) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity; or

(c) re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at a later date at the passenger's convenience, subject to availability of seats.

2. Paragraph 1(a) shall also apply to passengers whose flights form part of a package, except for the right to reimbursement where such right arises under Directive 90/314/EEC.

3. When, in the case where a town, city or region is served by several airports, an operating air carrier offers a passenger a flight to an airport alternative to that for which the booking was made, the operating air carrier shall bear the cost of transferring the passenger from that alternative airport either to that for which the booking was made, or to another close-by destination agreed with the passenger.

Article 9

Right to care

1. Where reference is made to this Article, passengers shall be offered free of charge:

(a) meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time;

(b) hotel accommodation in cases

- where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or

- where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary;

(c) transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel or other).

2. In addition, passengers shall be offered free of charge two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.

3. In applying this Article, the operating air carrier shall pay particular attention to the needs of persons with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them, as well as to the needs of unaccompanied children.

Article 10

Upgrading and downgrading

1. If an operating air carrier places a passenger in a class higher than that for which the ticket was purchased, it may not request any supplementary payment.

2. If an operating air carrier places a passenger in a class lower than that for which the ticket was purchased, it shall within seven days, by the means provided for in Article 7(3), reimburse

(a) 30 % of the price of the ticket for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less, or

(b) 50 % of the price of the ticket for all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres, except flights between the European territory of the Member States and the French overseas departments, and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres, or

(c) 75 % of the price of the ticket for all flights not falling under (a) or (b), including flights between the European territory of the Member States and the French overseas departments.

Article 11

Persons with reduced mobility or special needs

1. Operating air carriers shall give priority to carrying persons with reduced mobility and any persons or certified service dogs accompanying them, as well as unaccompanied children.

2. In cases of denied boarding, cancellation and delays of any length, persons with reduced mobility and any persons accompanying them, as well as unaccompanied children, shall have the right to care in accordance with Article 9 as soon as possible.

Article 12

Further compensation

1. This Regulation shall apply without prejudice to a passenger's rights to further compensation. The compensation granted under this Regulation may be deducted from such compensation.

2. Without prejudice to relevant principles and rules of national law, including case-law, paragraph 1 shall not apply to passengers who have voluntarily surrendered a reservation under Article 4(1).

Article 13

Right of redress

In cases where an operating air carrier pays compensation or meets the other obligations incumbent on it under this Regulation, no provision of this Regulation may be interpreted as restricting its right to seek compensation from any person, including third parties, in accordance with the law applicable. In particular, this Regulation shall in no way restrict the operating air carrier's right to seek reimbursement from a tour operator or another person with whom the operating air carrier has a contract. Similarly, no provision of this Regulation may be interpreted as restricting the right of a tour operator or a third party, other than a passenger, with whom an operating air carrier has a contract, to seek reimbursement or compensation from the operating air carrier in accordance with applicable relevant laws.

Article 14

Obligation to inform passengers of their rights

1. The operating air carrier shall ensure that at check-in a clearly legible notice containing the following text is displayed in a manner clearly visible to passengers: "If you are denied boarding or if your flight is cancelled or delayed for at least two hours, ask at the check-in counter or boarding gate for the text stating your rights, particularly with regard to compensation and assistance".

2. An operating air carrier denying boarding or cancelling a flight shall provide each passenger affected with a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance in line with this Regulation. It shall also provide each passenger affected by a delay of at least two hours with an equivalent notice. The contact details of the national designated body referred to in Article 16 shall also be given to the passenger in written form.

3. In respect of blind and visually impaired persons, the provisions of this Article shall be applied using appropriate alternative means.

Article 15

Exclusion of waiver

1. Obligations vis-à-vis passengers pursuant to this Regulation may not be limited or waived, notably by a derogation or restrictive clause in the contract of carriage.

2. If, nevertheless, such a derogation or restrictive clause is applied in respect of a passenger, or if the passenger is not correctly informed of his rights and for that reason has accepted compensation which is inferior to that provided for in this Regulation, the passenger shall still be entitled to take the necessary proceedings before the competent courts or bodies in order to obtain additional compensation.

Article 16

Infringements

1. Each Member State shall designate a body responsible for the enforcement of this Regulation as regards flights from airports situated on its territory and flights from a third country to such airports. Where appropriate, this body shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the rights of passengers are respected. The Member States shall inform the Commission of the body that has been designated in accordance with this paragraph.

2. Without prejudice to Article 12, each passenger may complain to any body designated under paragraph 1, or to any other competent body designated by a Member State, about an alleged infringement of this Regulation at any airport situated on the territory of a Member State or concerning any flight from a third country to an airport situated on that territory.

3. The sanctions laid down by Member States for infringements of this Regulation shall be effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

Article 17

Report

The Commission shall report to the European Parliament and the Council by 1 January 2007 on the operation and the results of this Regulation, in particular regarding:

- the incidence of denied boarding and of cancellation of flights,

- the possible extension of the scope of this Regulation to passengers having a contract with a Community carrier or holding a flight reservation which forms part of a "package tour" to which Directive 90/314/EEC applies and who depart from a third-country airport to an airport in a Member State, on flights not operated by Community air carriers,

- the possible revision of the amounts of compensation referred to in Article 7(1).

The report shall be accompanied where necessary by legislative proposals.

Article 18

Repeal

Regulation (EEC) No 295/91 shall be repealed.

Article 19

Entry into force

This Regulation shall enter into force on 17 February 2005.

This Regulation shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.

Done at Strasbourg, 11 February 2004.

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