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Travelling over the Christmas holidays

photo by iMatthew Ireland
photo by iMatthew Ireland

Travelling over the Christmas holidays can prove a real headache when ticket prices go north, temperatures go south and you go nowhere. Luckily, you enjoy rights under European legislation when your flight is delayed or cancelled. However, there is always room for improvement. On 17 December the Parliament's transport committee voted in favour of strengthening these rights. Read on to find out what the current situation is and how it could change.


 If your flight arrives more than three hours late, you are entitled to compensation, depending on the distance of the flight:

Current situation

  MEPs’ proposal

1,500 or fewer km - €250

 2,500 or fewer km - €300

more than 1,500 km - €400

6,000 km or fewer - €400

more than 3,500 km - €600

more than 6,000 km - €600

Currently, if your flight is delayed for more than five hours, you have the right to have your ticket reimbursed and be flown back to where you originally started your journey. If your flight is delayed by more than two to four hours (depending on the flight's distance), you are entitled to refreshments, meals, communication such as a free phone call and if necessary an overnight stay.

If passengers are stranded in a plane on the tarmac for more than five hours, they have the right to disembark. MEPs want to already give them this right after three hours. They also want airlines to set up contact points at airports where staff could inform and help delayed passengers. Extraordinary circumstances, which would exempt airlines from giving air passengers the help and support they are normally entitled to, should be limited to clearly defined events that are outside the airline's control, such as bad weather.

MEPs will now talk with member states to finalise the rules. The Parliament is expected to vote on the final version during a plenary session in February 2014.