Know your rights when flying from Northern Ireland

Firstly, you may not be charged a higher price for a ticket because of your nationality or where you are buying the ticket from.

Secondly, you also have rights in case things go wrong. This concerns delays, cancellations and overbooking that prevent you from boarding …

… and applies if you are:

departing from any airport situated in the EU, or
arriving in the EU with an EU carrier or one from Iceland, Norway or Switzerland.
Refund or alternative transport
If you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled or overbooked, you are entitled to either:

transport to your final destination using comparable alternative means, or
having your ticket refunded and, where relevant, being returned free of charge to your initial departure point.
Long delays – if your flight is delayed by 5 hours or more, you are also entitled to a refund (But if you accept a refund, the airline does not have to provide any further onward travel or assistance).

Your airline must inform you about your rights and the reason for being denied boarding, or any cancellations or long delays (over 2 hours, although this may be up to 4 hours for flights in excess of 3500 Km).

Food and board
You may also be entitled to refreshments, meals, communications (such as a free phone call), and, if necessary, overnight stay, depending on the flight distance and length of delay.

Financial compensation
In addition, if you are denied boarding, your flight is cancelled or arrives more than 3 hours late on arrival at the final destination stated on your ticket, you may be entitled to compensation of €250 – 600, depending on the distance of the flight:

Within the EU

1,500 km or less – €250
over 1,500 km – €400
Between EU airport and non-EU airport

1,500 km or less – €250
1,500 – 3,500 km – €400
over 3,500 km – €600
If the carrier offered you an alternative flight with a similar schedule, the compensation may be reduced by 50%.
With cancelled flights, you won’t receive compensation if:

the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances for example due to bad weather, or
you were informed 2 weeks before the scheduled flight date, or
you were offered an alternative for the same route with a similar schedule to the original one.
For cancellation due to extraordinary circumstances you may not have the right to compensation, the carrier must still offer you either:
a ticket refund (in full or just the part you have not used)
alternative transport to your final destination at the earliest opportunity or
rebooking at a later date of your choice (subject to seat availability).
Even in extraordinary circumstances, airlines must provide assistance when necessary, while you are waiting for alternative transport.

How to get a refund or compensation
Submit an air passenger rights EU complaint form [119 KB] to your airline – and make sure you keep a copy for yourself.

If this doesn’t work, or you aren’t satisfied with the reply, you can complain to the national enforcement body [222 KB] in the EU country where the incident took place.

Or, if the incident happened at an airport of departure outside the EU but involved an EU airline, you can send a complaint to the relevant national enforcement body [222 KB] in the EU country you were travelling to.

Lost or damaged registered luggage
Checked-in luggage

If your registered luggage is lost, damaged or delayed, you may be entitled to compensation from the airline, up to about €1,220

Exception – if damage is caused by an inherent defect in the baggage itself.

Hand baggage (including personal items)

The carrier is liable if it was responsible for the damage.

Make sure to file your claim within 7 days of receiving your luggage (or 21 days if your luggage was delayed).
If you wish to pursue other legal action, you must do so within 2 years of the date your luggage arrives.

If you are travelling with expensive items, you might be able – for a fee – to obtain a compensation limit higher than €1,223 by making a special advance declaration to the airline – at the latest when you check in. Though the best thing is really to take out private travel insurance.

Kevin Neary , Donnelly Neary & Donnelly Solicitors , Newry , Castlewellan County Down & Dublin

There is no standard form for the special declaration. It is up to the airlines to choose the type of form they provide.

Booking online – clear pricing
When you book a flight online, the total price of the ticket – including all compulsory elements such as taxes and charges – must be visible from the start, so you can compare prices across airlines and make an informed choice.

As well as the final price, at least the following information must be clearly displayed: air fare, taxes, airport charges, other charges, surcharges or fees (such as for security or fuel).

Any optional supplements must be clearly indicated and suggested on an opt-in basis only.

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