Planes, trains & ferries your rights explained

5 min read
July 28, 2014

It’s that time of year when we pack our bags and get away, from a few days visiting friends to jetting of to the sun. Along with moving house, the process of getting to and from your holiday destination can be extremely stressful so what are your rights if there is a problem?

Recently a number of holidaymakers arrived back to Gatwick to find Swissport could not move their bags from the plane to the carousel. After a number of hours with no information the passengers were told to go home. Not the best way to end your holiday.
Unlike most other key services (and travel is now considered a key service), the transport industry does not have an Ombudsman. There is the Civil Aviation Authority for airlines and they can make but not enforce recommendations. Passenger Focus and London Travelwatch can also only recommend resolutions for rail passengers. 

Delayed Trains

 Top tips for all transport issues

Here are some top tips if something goes wrong when you are travelling:

  • Be prepared: if you are travelling especially in summer remember to take some water with you and perhaps something to eat. You are then prepared if you get caught out; 
  • Keep a record: if something does go wrong make sure you keep your ticket, length of the delay, flight number etc., to enable you to make an effective complaint;
  • Take photos: as the majority of us have smart phones be sure to take photos of the incident if possible as these can provide good supporting evidence; 
  • Who & what: take note of the person’s name whom you spoke with along with what was said and promised;
  • Be reasonable: remember that the person you are dealing with is probably not responsible for the issue and is trying to deal with a stressful situation.
  • Act as quickly as possible: remember to put your claim in as soon as possible. resolver’s free iPhone app can help you to submit an issue as it happens. 

Here are some of the key issues you might encounter and what you should do if these happen to you.Flight is delayed If your flight is delayed then under EU Regulations you may be entitled to compensation. For European flight arrivals, the delay must exceed 3 hours before you are entitled to compensation.

  • Flights up to 1,500 km, over 3 hours delay, you can claim €300 
  • Flights from 1,500 km to 3,500 km, over 3 hours delay, you can claim €400
  • Flights over 3,500 km, delays between 3 to 4 hours, you can claim €300
  • Flights over 3,500 km, delays in excess of 4 hours, you can claim €600

However, there are reasons why airlines can refuse compensation pay outs, including industrial action and bad weather. However, a grey area is currently aircraft mechanical faults. Recently it was decided that a mechanical fault was not a reasonable excuse for delays and therefore compensation should be paid. However the airlines are appealing this decision.

 Bags are lost/delayed/missing

If you bag is damaged or missing , the maximum compensation you can receive is 1,131 Euros from the airline. A bag is not considered lost for 21 days once the bag has gone missing and you have 7 days in which to submit a complaint. If your bags are damaged, report it immediately at the airport and ask to fill in a Property Irregularity report. You should always ensure you have travel insurance, as this is often the better way to make any claims for damage or loss.

Train is delayed or cancelled

If your train is delayed for over an hour, you are entitled to a 20% refund on a single ticket or 10% on a return ticket. If you choose not to travel because the train is delayed or cancelled then you can apply for a complete refund from the train station or submit your tickets back to the train company. Remember to have some proof of when the train was delayed if possible.
The bad news is your compensation will be in the form of National Rail vouchers, so you will have to use the trains again! You can use these vouchers with any train company but they cannot be used for online train ticket purchases. But do keep persisting and some companies will change these vouchers for a cheque refund instead.

Eurostar is cancelled/delayed

If your Eurostar train is delayed, your rights are similar to an international flight delay. If the train is delayed by more than 60 minutes, you are entitled to food and drink but this will be dependent upon the length of the delay.
If you experience a 60 to 119 minutes delay, you can claim back 25% of the ticket price in compensation. Over 120 minutes, the compensation rises to 50% of the ticket price. The calculation is based on the cost of the journey leg and not the cost of the return ticket.
The refund must be greater than 4 Euros before a pay out will be agreed.
If the train breaks down on the track, Eurostar must also provide alternate transport to your end destination.
If your train is delayed or cancelled, meaning you cannot reasonably arrive at your end destination then compensation should cover any reasonable costs for overnight accommodation.

Ferry is delayed/cancelled

In 2012 the European Union introduced a regulation to cover delays for ferries arriving or departing from the European Union. For the regulation to cover the journey, the ferry must transport more than 12 passengers, there must be a staff compliment of more than 3 people and the journey must be longer than 500 metres.
The ferry must be cancelled or delayed by more than 90 minutes before you can claim compensation. In this situation you are entitled to a full refund of your ticket if you choose not to travel or reroute to an alternative destination.
You can claim 25% of ticket price if:

  • The delay is 1 hour or more for journeys under 4 hours;
  • The delay is 2 hours or more for journeys between 4 and 8 hours;
  • The delay is 3 hours or more for journeys between 8 and 24 hours;
  • The delay is 6 hours or more for journeys over 24 hours.

If the delay is double the above then you can claim 50% compensation, e.g. a 2-hour delay on a journey under 4 hours.
If the ferry is delayed as a result of exceptional circumstances such as bad weather, natural disasters, civil unrest and staff strikes then no compensation is due.
If you are delayed overnight then you should also receive food, refreshments and where appropriate accommodation for up to 3 nights, with financial assistance of up to €80 a night. 

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