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Saturday, 9 October 2010

Advice for stranded passengers

  • Published: Monday, 17 May 2010

The volcanic ash cloud has led to further cancellations and delays to flights in and around the UK. Read on for advice on your rights as an airline passenger in Europe, and what to do if you are abroad and your flight is cancelled.

Help from your airline

The amount of help you are entitled to from your airline depends on whether you are flying from an EU airport or on an EU airline.

Flights from EU countries or on EU airlines

If you are travelling from an EU airport or on an EU airline you are entitled to either a refund or to a later flight (or alternative transport home).

If you accept a refund for the return leg of your journey you end your relationship with the airline and will have no further entitlements.

Passengers who are rerouted onto a later flight will be entitled to assistance from the airline, including reasonable meals and overnight accommodation. You must confirm arrangements with your airline and should not assume that an airline will continue to pay for your existing accommodation.

As the volcano is beyond the control of the airlines, you will not be entitled to any additional financial compensation.

Flights from non-EU countries on non-EU airlines

Flights from non-EU countries on non-EU airlines are not covered by EU laws.

You will need to contact your airline, as your rights will depend on your airline’s conditions of carriage. A refund or later flight will generally be offered. You may also be covered by any travel insurance you have taken out.

For more information on your consumer rights, including what your travel insurance may cover, follow the link below.

Package holidays

Your rights and your tour operator

If you have purchased a package holiday, you have rights against your tour operator in addition to any rights against your airline as described above. You should contact your tour operator about these rights.

Where return flights have been cancelled, meaning that the tour operator has not been able to provide part of the package you have paid for, you are entitled to help. The tour operator must make suitable alternative arrangements to continue the package and to get you home, at no extra cost to you. This will normally also mean arranging for food and accommodation for overnight delays.

Usually, the tour operator is liable for ensuring every part of the package you pay for, including flights, is provided. Therefore, where part of the package is not provided, or not provided properly, you may, subject to your contract, be entitled to additional compensation for resulting losses you incur. However, tour operators are not usually liable to pay additional compensation where the reason for the failure is an unusual and unforeseeable event. The initial eruption of the volcano in Iceland and the first period of flight delays fall into this category. So tour operators are unlikely to be liable for additional compensation for losses incurred as a result of those delays.

Later Disruption

Later disruption due to the volcano ash cloud is no longer so unusual and tour operators are aware that it may happen. You may, therefore, be able to claim compensation for reasonable losses incurred as a result of delays to packages and return flights. This may apply in particular where the tour operator has not planned for the consequences of these. Tour operators may apply reasonable limits to the amount of any compensation payable (except for personal injury). You should therefore check what your contract says about your rights to additional compensation.

If you have run out of money

If you have run out of money you should ask a friend or relative to transfer money via a commercial money transfer service.

The British Embassy can advise you how to do this.

If you are running out of medication

If you are running out of medication, see if it is available at a local pharmacy or go to a local hospital or doctor. If you need help to find a hospital or doctor, call the British Embassy.

If you are admitted to hospital, contact the British Embassy.

If your visa has expired

If your visa has expired you should contact your tour operator or the British Embassy for advice.

Contacting a British national abroad

If you are calling from the UK and are concerned about a British national stranded overseas please call the FCO advice line on 020 7008 0000.

British nationals stranded overseas should contact their local embassy, high commission or consulate.

Search for your nearest embassy by following the link below.

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