Currently, holidaymakers flying from destinations inside the EU are entitled to compensation from airlines for delays and cancellations caused by factors which cannot be attributed to ‘extraordinary circumstances’ or ‘an act of God’.
However, it has been suggested that the EU may soon dramatically reduce the amount of compensation that can be paid out for delays and instead new proposals may increase the threshold for payouts – compensation for delays of under five hours for short flights could be halved and the time threshold for medium and long-haul flights increased to nine and 12 hours.
But a new report released by the UK government called Beyond the Horizon: The Future of UK Aviation says that there are no plans for the UK ‘to fall below current standards of protection when we leave the EU’.
This means that if the EU proposal to reduce compensation gets the green-light, holidaymakers jetting off from UK airports would have much stronger rights than those in Europe as the current regulations would still be in place here.
The report also calls for airlines should make it clearer how delayed passengers can claim compensation.
Under the current EU regulations, airlines must pay out compensation for cancelled or heavily delayed flights, however how much you’re entitled to depends on the flight and the amount of time you’ve been delayed by.
For instance, the flight must have departed from an EU airport, operating by any airline, or it must be arriving into an EU airport and be operated by an EU airline. The ‘EU airport’ also includes – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The flight also needs to have been a minimum of three hours late arriving at your destination to be eligible for compensation.
The compensation available for flights of less than 1,500km long that are delayed by at least three hours start from €250 (£221) and for flights of more than 3,500km between an EU and non-EU airport, delayed by at least four hours that compensation can go up to €600 (£532).
But airlines don’t always have to pay out and can avoid doing so if the delay is caused by an extraordinary circumstance, such as bad weather or crew strikes or ‘an act of God’, such as a volcano eruption.
Under the new proposals by Brussels, payouts for delays of under five hours for short flights could be halved and the time threshold for medium and long-haul flights increased to nine and 12 hours.