In the event of denied boarding, delay or cancellation of a flight, your rights are defined by the European Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 on air passenger rights.

If the flight is cancelled more than 2 weeks before the scheduled departure date, the passenger can in principle choose between :

– reimbursement of the original ticket price, or ;

– request an alternative flight under comparable conditions of carriage at the earliest opportunity.

NOTA BENE: Given the current situation related to the COVID-19 epidemic, it may be difficult for airlines to offer re-routing within a reasonable time.

If the passenger is informed of the cancellation less than 2 weeks before the scheduled departure date, he or she may in addition be entitled to compensation of between EUR 250 and EUR 600.

However, the European Commission has taken a position indicating that in the event of cancellation or delay of the flight in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, the compensation provided for in the European regulation will not be payable by the airline. Indeed, the European Commission considers the COVID-19 epidemic to constitute an exceptional circumstance within the meaning of Regulation EC No 261/2004 on air passenger rights.

This is without prejudice to the other rights provided for in the Regulation, namely the right to information, the right to reimbursement or re-routing and the right to care for the passenger.

OUR ADVICE: Consult the airline’s website to find out the status of your flight and any exceptional measures proposed, such as reimbursement in the form of a voucher. In view of the enormous difficulties that will affect the tourism sector, it is certainly advisable to prefer a refund in the form of a voucher. Indeed, in the event of bankruptcy of the airline it will be nearly impossible to obtain the refund due.

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If the airline carries out the trip to the country of destination (that has the ban of entrance for “certain passengers”), the airline will be fulfilling its obligation to carry out the flight; in that case if you decide to cancel the trip, the responsibility lies on you and not with the airline. You must observe the terms and conditions that govern the ticket. That is to say, if for the fare paid for the ticket, you are entitled or not to a refund or a re-booking (free of charge or paying an extra fee).
By the other side, if the airline carries out the trip but denies you the boarding, due to the entry restrictions, the rule to apply would be the Regulation 261/2004 on Passenger Rights, it means, you could cancel the flight, with reimbursement of the ticket, among other options.

If you decide to cancel your trip, usually it is not possible to do so for free or get a full refund. If the fare of the ticket offers the option of changes and cancellation, such benefits will apply, and can be: a) free of charge or, b) with the payment of a price difference to rebook or, c) application of a fee for the cancellation of the ticket or, d) in some cases the loss of the money payed for the ticket. As general rule, the ticket’s fare conditions should be reviewed. Due to current circumstances, some airlines are offering goodwill regulations and terms and conditions for upcoming travels to countries with entry bans or travel warnings, like rebooking’s free of charge.

The airlines, due to the current situation, are applying different methods. As general rule, if the flight is cancelled by the airline, you are entitled to a refund. Some airlines are trying to do the refund using a voucher (valid for up to one year) instead of money. You can use this voucher for another trip with the same carrier. However, it should be noted that acceptance of the voucher does not mean that you lose your right to a money refund. If you accept the voucher and do not use it within the period limit, you have the right to request a money refund.