Traveling by air brings with itself a number of procedures, so it could be said that in these terms this is the most demanding way to get from one place to another.
Airport regulations are complicated because of passenger safety. All procedures that are performed at the airport itself before departure are designed to ensure safety, and they should be carefully followed along with the instructions. Here we focus on issues that most people are not familiar with and that might cause problems for passengers. From this issue of SEEbtm we will try to answer the most frequent questions that Kongresniturizam’s Corporate Travel Department gets.
When a flight is delayed, the passengers wait at the airport for hours and most of them have no idea about their rights in these situations. Should they expect to be informed, provided accommodation, or refunded? Although passenger rights are set out by a number of conventions and rules, they are realized only if requested so. And a lot of us never do, do we? Of course, in most cases airlines act along the lines of “out of the things that passengers are entitled to, give them only what they request or ask for.” That’s why it’s important for passengers to know about their rights in situations when they’re prevented from taking off for any reason.
A delay means any flight that is postponed on account of unforeseen circumstances. Take-off and landing delays can happen for many reasons: insufficient number of gates for passenger boarding/deplaning, crowded runway, extreme weather, technical difficulties, etc. Any delay not exceeding two hours is considered acceptable in air travel, and airlines have no obligations to passengers in these cases. Airlines’ obligations towards passengers are determined by time and distance. This means that every passenger has the right to assistance depending on the length of the delay and mileage covered to the desired destination. In most cases, if the flight is delayed between two and five hours, the passenger gets a free meal or refreshment. If the delay is longer, passengers can choose – in line with their schedules and plans – whether they want the airline to provide free accommodation and transfer from and to the airport or if they want to get refunded for the ticket, or redirect their trip to the first available flight.
This is important information for all those traveling on connected flights, because the procedure is the same for them. So, for example, if you’re flying from Belgrade to
Prague via Frankfurt, and the departure from the initial destination is delayed, the airline is obligated to transfer the passengers to the next available flight. When it comes to distance, flying is grouped in three categories: up to 1,500 km, between 1,500 km and 3,000 km, and over 3,000 km. In case of delays, the compensation differs according to these groups. If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, you should contact the airline you’re traveling with because that will get you the most accurate information. Or you can contact your travel agent to do it for you and point you in the right direction.
Flight cancellations are a nightmare for any business traveler. A flight can be canceled for a number of reasons. The most common ones are technical: airplane technical fault, poor weather conditions, arrival or departure airports closing, or airline company strikes. When the flight is underbooked, the airline can cancel the flight to avoid cost-related issues (commercial reason). In any case, the passenger is offered one of two options: redirecting to another flight (similar to the original one or on a different date if acceptable), or a full refund of all expenses.
Emergency circumstances that release airline companies from responsibility:
· Bad weather
· Volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, fires, etc.
· War, armed conflict, terrorist threats
· Airplane accidents and incidents at the airport
· Strikes at departments that are not part of the airline company (airports, flight control)
· Risk to flight safety
When the flight is delayed or cancelled for any reason, most business travelers expect their
travel agents to resolve the situation. It’s important to note that in these cases the travel agent can help only if the change in flight time or cancellation were announced in advance. Then the agent acts in line with the rules of the airline company. If these situations happen at the airport itself two hours before the take-off, or if the passengers already checked in, they become the responsibility of the airline they’re traveling with and the company further resolves the situation in accordance with the rules described above.
Now that you have all this in mind, there’s no need to panic. Unexpected situations are quite common in air travel, and the rules and procedures are getting increasingly stricter because the focus is on passenger safety first and foremost. So, if you ever find yourself at the airport in any of these situations, Keep Calm and Fly on 🙂
Corporate Travel Department,