Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 defines the rights of air passengers, victims of cancellation, delay or overbooking "overbooking". It is applicable to flights:
- From an airport located in a Member State of the European Union, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, regardless of the company (Ethiopian Airlines for example)
- Carried out by a European company to an airport located in a member state of the European Union, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland.
What to do in the event of a flight cancellation or denied boarding?
In the event of denied boarding, following an overbooking for example, airlines are required to seek volunteers who agree to give up their reservation in exchange for certain services, according to terms to be agreed between the passengers concerned and the operating air carrier.
Passengers who are rerouted against their will are entitled to compensation (between € 250 and € 600) depending on the distance of the flight and the delays suffered before the rerouting.
The airline must also provide the necessary assistance: refreshments, catering, telephone, hotel accommodation, transport from the airport to the place of accommodation, etc.
What about cancellation? A canceled flight is a flight initially scheduled which has not been performed and on which at least one seat has been reserved. Cancellation of a flight normally involves a change of flight number, unlike delay.
In all cases, the airline is obliged to offer you the choice between:
Reimbursement of your ticket within seven days for the part not performed but also for that performed and become unnecessary or;
Rerouting to your final destination under comparable conditions.
If you choose to re-route, Ethiopian Airlines must cover all of your hotel and catering costs, until you arrive at your final destination. You are also entitled to two phone calls. On the other hand, if you choose the reimbursement of your plane ticket, the airline is then released from its obligation to cover your hotel and catering costs. Finally, in both cases, the airline is required to pay you a lump sum compensation of:
- For flights of less than 1,500 km: € 250 (€ 125 if the delay does not exceed two hours);
- For intra-community flights or flights of 1,500 to 3,500 km: € 400 (€ 200 if the delay does not exceed three hours);
- For other flights over 3,500 km 600 € (300 € if the delay does not exceed four hours).
Compensation is not due in three cases:
- If passengers are informed two weeks before the time of departure;
- In the event of a shorter period, if a place is offered to them on another flight at a time close to the time initially planned both on departure and arrival, in the event of extraordinary circumstances (weather conditions, risks related to the security, strike, etc.).
The onus is on the operating air carrier to prove that it informed passengers of the cancellation of a flight and the time within which it did so.
What about a long delay? Except in extraordinary circumstances (weather conditions, security risks, strike, etc.), the passenger who is delayed by more than three hours on arrival has the same rights as in the event of cancellation, particularly in terms of compensation.
The right to assistance and care
Ethiopian Airlines must provide the necessary assistance (refreshments, catering, telephone, hotel accommodation, transport from the airport to the place of accommodation, etc.) as soon as the delay in departure of a flight reaches:
- Two hours or more for flights of 1,500 km or less;
- Three hours or more for flights over 1,500 km up to 3,500 km and all intra-Community flights over 1,500 km;
- Four hours or more for other flights over 3,500 km.
If the departure delay is at least five hours, and only if the passenger abandons his trip, he is entitled to be reimbursed for his plane ticket, and possibly, to request the support of the return flight to its initial point of departure (case of a flight departing from a connecting stopover).