There is a common misconception among travelers that charter flights are not subject to standard regulation and the customer service expectation on these flights is significantly lower.
Luckily, that is false.
The EU Regulation 261/2004 applies to both - regular and charter flights.
Here's what you should know when it comes to getting a compensation for a disrupted flight, charter or not.
What is a Charter Flight
Simply put, a charter flight is one where the airline has sold its seats to a third-party travel provider. A typical scenario would be a large tour operator buying a number of seats and then reselling them in the form of a package. Charter flights can be relatively cheap but they also come with an increased probability of schedule changes and even cancellations.
Thomson and Thomas Cook are two popular package operators offering charter flights. Holiday operators like them book a full plane to bring their travelers to their destination. They usually sell the remaining seats at cheaper prices.
Your right to compensation
Whether you’re flying on a scheduled or on a charter flight, your right to compensation does not change. Under EC 261, you’re entitled to a fixed amount if your delay is over 3h and the airline is at fault.
The delay is calculated based on arrival, not departure times. This way for example, if you waited for over 3h at your city of departure, but then landed only 2 hours and 50 minutes late, you’re not entitled to compensation. And yes - pilots really can make up the time in the air.
Either way, if your flight has been delayed by 2h or more, the airline should provide snacks and beverages, as well as ensure you can make a telephone call and/or have access to the internet and your email. In the event the delay has occurred late at night, the airline should provide lodging, and cover any airport transfer fees.
Cancellation of a Charter Flight
If the airline has advised you of the cancellation up to 14 days prior to your departure, then you are not entitled to compensation. In these cases, you should be offered an alternative form of transportation or have the choice of canceling your ticket and getting a full refund.
In cases where the airline has canceled the flight within 14, but no less than 7 days prior to your departure, you should once again be given the option of booking an alternative flight. The difference here however is that, this alternative flight should be departing no more than 2h prior to your initial departure time and you should be arriving at your final destination no more than 4h later, as per your original schedule. If the airline doesn’t meet these requirements and cannot prove that the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances (such as bad weather, strike or security threat), then you are entitled to a compensation for canceled flight.
Lastly, if the airline cancels the flight within 7 days prior to departure, the alternative flight should be departing no more than 1h after the original time and be arriving no more than 2h late. If this doesn't happen, claim compensation.
Charter flight or not, you should know what to do when your flight is canceled.
How much am I entitled to
If your flight is delayed by 3h or more, or if one of the above conditions isn’t met by the airline, then you’re entitled to
- €250 for flights up to 1,500km
- €400 for flights 1,500 to 3,500km
- €600 for flights over 3,500km
Read this post on compensation amounts for delayed and canceled flight for more details.
Have you been in a similar situation? Use our Compensation Calculator to find out if you’re entitled to compensation!
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