Nairobi airport fire: Your rights if you are booked to travel to or through the Kenyan capital
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Wednesday 07 August 2013
I am in Nairobi and my flight to Heathrow has been cancelled. What are the airline's obligations?
If you are travelling on British Airways or another EU capital, then the airline has a clear duty of care. It must get you home as swiftly as possible, using other airlines if necessary (and possible), and in the meantime provide you with meals and accommodation as required.
On Kenya Airways or other non-European carriers, there is no such obligation. Many travel insurance policies will cover the extra costs of the disruption, though some may cap the payout. If you are on a package holiday with a UK tour operator, the company should be looking after you. One big operator, Trailfinders, told The Independent: "Anyone who have booked a package and whose plans have been disrupted because of today's fire are being looked after by our local representatives in Kenya. We are in the process of contacting all clients due to travel to Kenya imminently and as this is a changing situation we are advising them on a case by case scenario."
My flight to Nairobi was cancelled, and I have missed the start of an adventure holiday. Who is responsible for compensation?
That depends on whether or not you booked the trip as a single transaction. If you did, then it is covered by the Package Travel Regulations. The provider is obliged to deliver the holiday as booked, and if it is prevented from doing so then it must make suitable amends.
If, though, you have booked components independently - for example buying the flight and a safari separately - then the airline has no obligation beyond offering you a refund of your air fare if you choose to cancel your trip.
I booked a cheap flight on Kenya Airways to South Africa. If the airline is not able to fly me as booked, will I have to buy another ticket and claim a refund?
No, though that option may remain open to you. Kenya Airways insists its operations will get back to normal quickly. In the interim, though, it is also booking passengers on its partners, Air France and KLM. So you might find yourself rebooked via Paris or Amsterdam. However, it is peak holiday season in northern Europe, and therefore empty seats are not easy to find.
Am I entitled to compensation under EU rules?
No, since this was beyond any airline's control and counts as "extraordinary circumstances". It is possible that your insurance will pay out a token sum, perhaps £25 for every 12 hours delay after the first 12 hours.
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