Brussels forces airlines to treat us nice

When you fly, it often feels like you’re about as appreciated and loved as a discarded Ryanair scratchcard. Your bags are left in Switzerland, and if you want a refund because they’ve cancelled your flight, airlines can get frostier than a wing tip at 35000 feet.

There’s already an EU directive catchily called ‘EU261’, which means that airlines have to refund cancelled flights, but often they like not to tell you about that, and let you go through the courts for compensation instead.

But thanks to new reforms proposed by the European parliament in Brussels, airlines are now going to have to behave themselves and put their bad attitude in the overhead locker.

From 2014, when the laws come into effect, airlines must book you on a rival carrier if they can’t take you to your destination within 12 hours. They also have to put you up in a hotel for a maximum of 3 days if you’re stranded. And if everything goes tits up on the tarmac, airline staff will have to give you water, put on air conditioning and open the bogs. In addition, they’ll be obliged to tell you what the hell is going on 30 mins before your flight is cancelled.

So, basically, airlines might start treating us like human beings, rather than irritating wasps with suitcases on wheels. Hurray!


  • Cornerflag
    I won't be holding my breath waiting for this to happen. Ryanair, Easyjet, Thomas Cook, ...all shite!
  • Al
    Ermm ... they're obliged to tell you your flight is delayed no more than 30 minutes after it was scheduled to depart, not before as Lucy said. They used to have to put you up in a hotel indefinitely but now it's just 3 days. They used to have to pay compensation after 3 hours but now it's after 9 hours. This amendment is not really better for most consumers, just less costly for the airlines.
  • klingelton
    great, well written and informative article. Replace Mof's name on that bar on the right there with that of "Lucy Sweet!"
  • Paul N.
    Good catch Al. I think there's some backwards steps there also. The hotel one isn't a big deal as I doubt many people are stuck for 3+ days except really crazy circumstances but the 3 hour one is a big change. However, in my experience I have rarely been able to use the directive as they simply have to state it's for mechanical or weather reasons and then they are not liable. They are only liable to pay the compensation if it is their fault that the flight is delayed. What the EU really could have done is to make the fault reporting transparent so that it is possible to find if a mechanical delay is because of a failure of routine maintenance or if it is genuinely an abnormal failure. I believe if the mechanical delay is something which is a result of poor maintenance or generally a predictive problem they are liable however there is no way to check this against the airlines word. Would appreciate more insight if someone has it on the EU261 rules.
  • badger
    Delta. Just don't even think about using them. Your free tip for today.

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