Cancelled or delayed flights? Know your rights!

Cancelled or delayed flights can throw your travel plans – be they for leisure, medical reasons, or work – in jeopardy. It doesn’t help that getting compensation is not always straightforward – the process can take hours, especially if you find yourself trying to get through to the customer service team after a bunch of flights have been cancelled.

People who find out their flight is cancelled sometimes end up having to book an alternative flight through another airline the next day, as well as booking (and paying for) a hotel in Malta for the night, but remain uninformed of any compensation by their airline.

So, here follows an overview of the compensations you are entitled to, their limitations, and how to go about insuring your travels.

What’s the norm?

If you are travelling from a European airport or to a European airport on an EU airline and your flight is cancelled, your airline may either offer you a full refund or rebook your flight subject to the airline’s rebooking policy.

Be careful: This is not always the case, and not all airlines offer such compensation in the same way at all times. The only assurance of getting compensation in these circumstances is by having a private Insurance Policy in force.2.

What about Malta?

If there is a substantial delay (what kind of ‘delay’ is eligible changes with each agency), but the general consensus is that you are entitled to compensation if
1) flight delay takes longer than two hours and flight distance is of 1500 kilometres or less
2) flight delay takes four hours and the flight distance exceeds 3500 kilometres

In this case, you are to expect – free of charge:

– meals and refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time; and two telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails.
– When the time of departure expected is at least a day after the time of departure previously announced, making a stay of one or more nights necessary, you are also entitled to hotel accommodation.

What if you decide not to travel on the delayed flight?

In Malta, airlines offer: reimbursement within seven days (in cash, by electronic bank transfer, bank orders or bank cheques or, with your signed agreement, travel vouchers and/or other services) of the full cost of your ticket, at the price at which it was bought, for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to your original travel plan, together with, when relevant, a return flight to the first point of departure, at the earliest opportunity.

While reimbursement is given of the full cost of your ticket, it is, however, unlikely that an airport will reimburse you for any other elements of your trip such as cancelled hotels, tickets to concerts, or hire cars. It’s also not completely clear how one can go about presenting costs to the airport for a refund.

Are compensations always given by an airport?

When the Malta Independent inquired about this, asking to Maltese airlines:  ‘Where passengers who suffered delays granted any compensation? If so, could you provide details?’, no response was given.

It is worth noting that, in the case of multiple delays or cancellations, airports can get overwhelmed by the sheer number of claims, and thus struggle to give adequate accommodation or any of the promised services – and if given, they may not be offered in time.

If you are unable to have your airline provide you with an arrangement, be sure to keep all your receipts to make the claims process as pain-free as possible.

Remember, if you’ve booked your flights independently and you decide to rebook your outward flight and travel on a new date, it is up to you to sort out all of your onward arrangements in your holiday destination – not the airline.

So, for example, if you have a hotel or hire car booked in your holiday destination, you’ll have to cancel or rebook it yourself or you could be classed as a ‘no-show’ and charged the full amount. If you incur any losses due to cancellation of these elements, the only way to claim compensation is through your travel insurance policy.

Buying a travel insurance cover, how to go about it?

Check the fine print to make sure the policy includes cover for irrecoverable losses as a result of delays or cancellation.

Sometimes the latter is not only included in the standard Policy but can be bought as extensions.

As brokers, you can hire us for free to check which insurance is best for you, keep in mind that the nature of your destination can have an impact on what kind of insurance cover is best for you. The ‘cheapest’ is not always a great idea, and the most expensive travel cover might just mean you’re wasting more money than you should on a product that is meant to safeguard your finances, not burn them away.

Different Insurers offer different levels and benefits, and you are normally allowed to select between different levels of protection. The salient details of this product are as follows:

– Cancellation and Curtailment
– Medical and emergency travel expenses
– Loss of or damage to luggage
– Travel delay
– Delayed luggage
– Third-party liability

Do you need help finding a travel insurance cover?

As Independent Insurance Brokers, we

  • Compare and review local insurance policies and assist you in finding the right one for you
  • In the event you need to make a claim, we will file and handle the claim on your behalf
  • We’ll keep you in the loop should there be changes in the policy, or if better policies show up.

Better yet?

You only pay a €5 admin fee when you work with us. We get paid via commission from the company you choose to hire. To guarantee that there’s no conflict of interest, we get the same commission regardless of the company you choose.

Contact Ving’s Brokers by calling us on 2016 1622 or through our facebook page, Ving Insurance Brokers Ltd.

This information was brought to you by VING Insurance Brokers Limited (“VING”). VING is enrolled under the Insurance Distribution Act (Cap. 487 of the Laws of Malta) to carry on business of insurance broking and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority (“MFSA”). The activities of VING are solely restricted to that of a distributor. VING is not the manufacturer or underwriter on any insurance product it distributes.