Gone are the days of cackling large families squabbling on packed flights to the Canaries, and raucous sun burnt families in sombreros returning back. Once synonymous with cheap package holidays to shoddy hotels in Spain, Greece and Turkey, charter flights nowadays operate more like a regular flight, but with just a single customer, the ticket operator. They in turn sell their tickets on to you, the customer, via a travel agency or tour operator.
From a compensationary point of view it doesn’t really change things much, but passengers are protected by extra legislation pertaining to charter flights in the form of articles 5 & 7 of Regulation (EU) 90/314 “on package travel, package holidays and package tours*”.
“Are charter flights worth it, or are they too risky?”
Last minute packages, and charter flights can offer excellent value. Top quality hotels and locations, and bargain bin prices that are hard to resist, but are they all too good to be true? It is true that charter flights tend to suffer more disruption, cancellations, and delays than other flights, but knowing your rights in advance could turn any potential bitter experience into a nice payout.
“When does flight compensation apply?”
The EU sees no difference between package tours and regular flights, and the same rules apply for charter flights as to any other flights. Regulation (EU) 261/2004 applies in Europe to all EU and participating countries (see regulation for a full list), and in the following circumstances:
- If your flight is within the EU
- Is operated either by an EU or a non-EU airline
- If your flight arrives in the EU from outside the EU
- Is operated by an EU airline
- If your flight departs from the EU to a non-EU country
- Is operated by an EU or a non-EU airline
There are 3 types of flights for the purposes of compensation:
- Flight < 1,500km
- Flight > 1,500km within EU or any flight 1,500km – 3,500km
- Flight > 3,500km NOT within EU
“Am I entitled to anything else?”
Passengers are entitled to refreshments and communication provided by the carrier after the following delays:
Under 2 hours – no compensation applies
- 2 hours delay – flight type 1
- 3 hours delay – flight type 2
- 4 hours delay – flight type 3
Find more information about flight delays on our blog: Flights delays what to do?
“My flight is definitely delayed, what should I do?”
Always try to get as much information as possible about any delays. Find out what is causing the delay, and what is being done to resolve it. This is not secret information, and the airline should provide it to any passenger who demands.
Reasons for delays can vary from the mundane to “acts of God”. An incoming flight may just have been delayed boarding, or technical problems, or unforeseen problems like a sudden snowstorm, or airport worker’s strike. Finding out the reason can be crucial and can ensure the success of a claim.
Keep all your personal or family travel documents safe, including boarding passes for any cancelled flights. If the airline fails to provide meals or refreshments as set out above, keep all the receipts to include in any claim.
Be careful, some carriers offer settlement in vouchers or bonus points, if you accept any of these then not only will you no longer be entitled to claim flight compensation, but the settlement may be for significantly less than compensation legally due to you.
If, in extreme circumstances, your flight is delayed overnight then the airline must provide you with accommodation. If they fail to do so, you have the right to reimbursement. You don’t have to sleep in the airport, you can look further abroad, but make sure that you hold on to any receipts, bills or invoices for any incurred costs, taxis, meals, hotel, etc. Remember you can only be reimbursed for necessities so don’t splurge out on champagne and caviar!
“My flight arrived late, how do I calculate how delayed it was?”
Delay times are calculated not on the scheduled time of departure, but on the scheduled time of arrival at the destination. This means that if a flight departs three and half hours late but arrives (touches down) two hours and fifty five minutes late, then no compensation, other than refreshments at the departure airport is due. Try to get confirmation of the landing time from the airline, or airport, for future reference.
Knowing the exact distance of the flight is important too. Flight distances are calculated on the total flight distance on the same ticket, including all corresponding flights if applicable. In general, the longer your flight is, the more compensation you are entitled to.
“How do I increase my chances of getting compensation?”
The more passengers that apply for flight compensation from the same flight, the greater the chances of a successful resolution. You should always ask other passengers if they know their rights and tell them about GIVT. It’s easy for an airline to ignore one claim, but very hard to ignore fifty!
“How much charter flight compensation am I entitled to?”
Before we calculate any compensation, we much first answer one crucial question – Whose fault was the delay?
Once we can establish that the fault lies with the airline operator and the delay was more than 3 hours then we can make a claim pursuant to regulation (EU) 261/2004. The amounts are as follows:
- €250 for flights under 1,500km
- €400 for flights over 1,500km within EU or or any flight between 1,500km and 3,500km
- €600 for flight over 3,500km not within EU
“What about package holiday flight delay compensation?”
Passenger’s rights are the exact same as for a regular flight, or charter flight when it comes to package holiday flight compensation. Delayed package holiday flights are due compensation at the same rates irrespective of the level of quality of board and lodging services provided. In effect passengers can have a perfectly enjoyable, albeit delayed, package holiday and still be entitled to €600 each!
“My flight was cancelled 10 days before travel, can I claim?”
The cut off time for cancellation compensation is 14 days. Charter flight, or package flight compensation is only due when less than 14 days’ notice was given.
I’m confused about cancellation notifications. What exactly are my entitlements?
Entitlements and compensation depend on the amount of notice given by the airline:
- Over 14 days’ notice – You are entitled to an alternate flight, or a complete refund.
- Between 7-14 days’ notice – You are entitled to an alternate flight however this flight may not depart more than 2 hours later than your scheduled original flight and may not be delayed more than 4 hours past the scheduled time at landing. If the airline cannot fulfil these requirements, then you are eligible for compensation.
- Less than 7 days’ notice – You are entitled to an alternate flight, but this flight may not depart more than 1 hour later than your scheduled original flight and may not be delayed more than 2 hours past the scheduled time at landing. If the airline cannot fulfil these requirements, then you are eligible for compensation.
“I want to make a claim, what do I do now?”
When it comes to package holidays, charter flights, travel agencies, and tour operators, it is not they, but the airline operator that is liable for flight compensation. Dealing with these airlines can be a very difficult task, and it pays to let the experts do the job for you.
If your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before scheduled departure, then you are due a payout.
If your flight was delayed more than 3 hours at landing, then you are due a payout.
Only in the event of extraordinary circumstances, or force majeure is the airline operator exempt from compensation. It is vitally important that you include as much information as possible when making your claim. Don’t forget that anyone travelling on the same ticket can claim compensation together, increasing everyone’s chances of success.
“I’m not good with computers, will I still be able to claim?”
Our easy to follow online claim service lists all the details needed for a successful claim. Once our experts verify the flight, your details, and receive copies of your documents, a claim can be made on your behalf directly to the airline.
Compensation proceedings with charter airlines tend to take longer than with other airlines, and the possibility of litigation, and a case being brought to court exists. The more information and claimants that you can provide greatly increases our chances of bringing you success and winning your legally entitled payout.
You now know all that you need to know about disrupted charter or package holiday flights. So, forget your worries, lie back and enjoy your flight. Bon voyage!