Once you’ve planned your trip, the last thing you want to know is that your flight has been cancelled. Make sure to have the right information and be well prepared in case the worst would happen. Then you might at least be able to get compensation for your canceled flight.
There are specific rules that apply to canceled flights within the EU. This applies to both flights that take off from an airport in the EU and flights with EU-registered airlines that land within the EU. Regardless of the reason for the cancellation and when you have received the information, you always have the right to:
- get rebooked to the next possible flight, alternatively to a flight at a later time if it suits you better.
- get a refund for the trip that has been cancelled.
When you want money back for the canceled flight
If you choose to get a refund for the flight, the airline has to refund the ticket costs within seven days. The airline cannot pay you with, for example, credit receipts or gift cards unless it’s something you choose yourself. If the cancellation means that the purpose of your trip is lost, you might be entitled to a free flight to the place where you began your trip. This applies if the reason why you wanted to travel was to take part in an event that only takes place during specific dates, for example a conference, a wedding, a funeral and the like.
If you choose to get money back from the airline, you can’t ask for more compensation from them. However, if you choose to rebook your trip, you might be entitled to compensation for any accommodation and for food and drink. If choosing to rebook your trip to the next possible flight means you have to pay for an overnight stay in a hotel, the airline is obliged to cover those costs. If the hotel is outside the airport, the airline has to pay for transportation to and from the airport.
If another airline offers a trip sooner than the airline you have chosen, you have the right to demand to be rebooked with the other airline. However, it’s important that you always contact your airline before booking another trip. Otherwise, you risk missing out on compensation.
What happens if the airline refuses to compensate for a canceled flight?
If your airline refuses you in any way, you can demand compensation afterwards. Keep in mind, however, that you might not be reimbursed for all costs. Make sure to keep any costs to a minimum to be on the safe side. This applies for both if you rebook your trip with another airline and if you need to pay for food, drinks and hotel accommodation.
If you don’t get help from your airline, you can submit a case to the Swedish National Board for Consumer Disputes afterwards. You will have to send in a description of what happened, copies of all the receipts you claim compensation for and any other documents they need to receive to assess your case. The National Board for Consumer Disputes will then assesses whether you’re entitled and what you’re entitled to.
The website Hallå konsument has a handy flight calculator where you can quickly find out what you’re entitled to.
If the airline refers to force majeure
Force majeure is a common clause in all contracts. It means that the agreement doesn’t apply in extreme circumstances that are beyond human control. Examples of such circumstances are if a country becomes politically unstable in a short time, if a natural disaster or extreme weather conditions occur, if a strike breaks out and the like. In such circumstances, the airline doesn’t have to reimburse you. Technical faults on the aircraft aren’t a basis for force majeure.
When an airline refers to force majeure, they have to first show that they have tried to get the flight going as usual. Otherwise, the airline will primarily decide whether the canceled flight is due to force majeure or something else.