Back during April’s travel mess, the European Union warned Ryanair because Ryanair refused to compensate stranded passengers for lodging and food. The EU told them they were legally required to, and the budget carrier backed down.
Here comes the sequel to that story.
Italy has slapped Ryanair with a three million euro ($3.75 million) fine for not providing 178 people at Rome’s Ciampino airport with help required under EU Regulation 261. This includes lodging and food that the airline was supposed to give stranded passengers.
Ryanair is denying the charges so this will probably end up in court. Ryanair will almost certainly bring up a provision in the regulation stating that, “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.”
Italian officials, however, have pointed out that most other airlines offered food and hotels for the duration of the shutdown. Plus Ryanair’s own website says that you’re covered by EU261, “If your flight is cancelled, for whatever reason.”
Considering that an estimated eight million passengers were affected by April’s volcanic eruption, this is probably only the first in a long series of legal actions.
While the United States still struggles to pass a Passenger Bill of Rights, it’s nice to know that American travelers are covered under the European Union’s Air Passenger Compensation Requirements, which went into affect three years ago.
With thousands of passengers delayed or waylaid over at Heathrow’s new Terminal 5, now seems to be the perfect time to review just what kind of compensation you’re entitled to when flying within the EU.
The Guardian newspaper has this handy guide to the EU’s APCR. In many respects, the regs are not that different than the ones U.S. airplanes are ostensibly held to. Yet the EU’s somehow seem a little more straight forward.
If you are flying a European carrier within the EU, and your flight is delayed, here is the approximate financial compensation you’re entitled to, according to the Guardian:
- $200 for a journey up to 1,500km that’s delayed up to two hours
- $375 on a journey up to 1,500km delayed more than two hours
- $300 on a journey of 1,500km-3,500km delayed up to three hours
- $600 on a journey of 1,500km-3,500km delayed more than three hours
- $450 on a journey of more than 3,500km delayed up to four hours
- $900 on a journey of more than 3,500km delayed more than four hours
The Guardian points out that airlines have big incentives to pay up if you process a claim that falls under the regulations; they face fines of nearly $10,000 from the EU if they don’t.
So, just because you’re flying out of the U.S. doesn’t mean you forfeit your rights as a passenger. If any of you have been caught up in the Heathrow mess this week, maybe you should get something for your troubles.