Consumer travel rights: volcanic eruption

Thousands of passengers have been left stranded after significant flight disruptions in the UK and Scandinavia.

For travelers, the disruption comes as more bad news in a year that has already seen widespread cancellations and delays due to snow. However, consumer rights group Which? says that passengers in Europe should not lose out altogether.

"Affected passengers are being offered a choice of a full refund or transfer on to another flight," said Rochelle Turner, Head of Research for Which? Holiday. "But, the airlines don't have to compensate passengers for loss of any additional elements to holidays, such as accommodation and car hire."

So, affected travelers will need to check with their individual insurer to see if they are covered for further expenses that airlines will not reimburse them for. ABTA, which represents the major travel companies in the UK and Europe, is advising passengers intending to fly Thursday to contact their travel provider or airline to discuss their travel arrangements.

Under European Union regulations, if a flight is cancelled consumers can:

• Cancel their booking and receive a refund of the unused ticket, and for the part of the journey already made if the delay means the flight no longer serves any purpose in relation to your original travel plans. Where relevant if the passenger has already completed one or more segments of the flight they should be offered a return flight to the first point of departure at the earliest opportunity.

• Take an alternative flight, under comparable transport conditions, to the final destination, where seats are available, at the earliest opportunity.

• Take an alternative flight to the destination, under comparable transport conditions and where seats are available, at a later date.

If the flight is part of a "package holiday" the cancellation could amount to a "significant alteration" to the package. Whether it does depends on how much later the alternative flight offered leaves. If the alteration is significant and passengers are not happy to go ahead with the holiday, the consumer would be entitled to a refund of the full cost of the package and not the flights.

More information available from:

http://www.which.co.uk
http://www.abta.com/

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