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News & Advice

Air crisis Q&A: What you're entitled to if you're unable to fly

What rights do I have if my aircraft is cancelled?

European air travel compensation rules (EC Regulation 261/2004) apply to flights booked on an EU airline or departing or arriving at an EU airport. You can choose to receive a full refund or a rescheduled flight later.

What if I am stranded abroad?

You are entitled to receive meals and refreshments, two telephone calls, emails, and hotel accommodation. You should also receive transport between the airport and the hotel.

Can I get compensation too?

No. Usually, you are entitled to compensation of between €250 and €600 for long delays or cancellations, but not for problems "caused by extraordinary circumstances". The Air Transport Users Council considers the volcanic eruption is an "extraordinary circumstance".

What happens to package holiday bookings?

Under the EU Package Holiday Directive, tour operators are responsible for delays or cancellations to holidays containing two or more of the following elements: flight, accommodation, car hire and entertainment – a traditional package holiday. The protection does not automatically extend to holidays booked separately on the internet (check with the provider).

Can I claim on my insurance?

This will depend on the policy – and, probably more importantly, the insurer's attitude. In general, most standard policies do not cover the ash cloud. However, some insurers may make goodwill payments and more expensive policies are likely to be more generous.

How are insurers treating customers?

Aviva, the country's largest insurer, said that while its policies did not cover such as "uninsurable peril" it would consider making goodwill payments. Lloyds also said that it would consider discretionary payouts because of the exceptional nature of the crisis. However AXA's standard policies will not ordinarily pay out.

Any other advice?

Passengers who intend to claim refunds from an airline or an insurance company should seek to minimise costs and keep receipts.