Under European Union (EU) travel regulations, You are entitled to claim compensation from your carrier if any of the following happen:
If you check-in on time but you are not allowed to board because there are too many passengers for the number of seats available or your flight is cancelled, the airline operating the flight must offer you financial compensation.
If you are delayed for two hours or more, the airline must offer you meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation and communication facilities. If you are delayed for more than five hours, the airline must also offer to refund your ticket.
If your checked-in baggage is damaged or lost by an EU airline, you must make a claim to the airline within seven days. If your checked-in baggage is delayed, you must make a claim to the airline within 21 days of when you get your baggage back.
If you are injured in an accident on a flight by an EU airline, you may claim damages from the airline. If you die as a result of these injuries your family may claim damages from the airline.
If your tour operator does not provide the services you have booked, for example any flights or parts of your package holiday, then you may claim damages from the tour operator.
Full details are available at: http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/travel/passenger-rights/air/index_en.htm. Please speak to your airline, booking agent or tour representative who should be able to advise you.
In the event of the financial failure of your travel company you will be pleased to know there are several associations to help protect and support you.
Remember to always book your holiday abroad through a reputable travel company.
Good travel agents and tour operators will give you security through an Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL)
They may also give you security through membership with an approved body such as ABTA (the association of British travel agents); the Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (ABTOT); the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO); Bonded Coach Holidays (BCH); or the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO).
Many of the travel arrangements provided by these organisations are protected by law in case of the financial failure of the travel company. You should, however, always ask your travel company if financial protection applies to your travel arrangements. If it doesn’t, the company may be able to offer suitable insurance to cover you.
Package holidays (usually a combination of transport and accommodation) booked in the UK are protected by the Package Travel Regulations, giving consumers special protection if things go wrong or circumstances change in the period after the booking has been made.
ATOL is a consumer protection scheme managed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), for overseas holidays.
The purpose of the scheme is to protect you from being stranded abroad or losing money when a travel firm goes out of business.
All travel firms in the UK that sell overseas holidays and flights must hold an ATOL licence. The firm has to have met the CAA’s criteria for the licence to be issued. The Air Travel Trust (ATT) manage a financial protection fund which the licensed travel firms must contribute to. This fund is then used by the CAA in the event of an ATOL travel firm's failure, to ensure people abroad are able to finish their holidays and fly home, while those unable to travel are able to receive a refund in the event of an ATOL travel firm failure.
When booking your holiday make sure the travel firm you are booking with has a licence. If the firm is licensed they are required to display their ATOL licence number on websites and in brochures. As soon as you pay the travel firm any money (including deposits) for an overseas holiday or flight, the ATOL holder or their agent must give you an ATOL Certificate confirming you are ATOL protected. This should include the name of the licensed firm you’ve booked with, their ATOL number and details of what’s protected. You should take these documents with you when you travel.
For more information about the ATOL scheme and to check whether your travel firm is licensed, visit the ATOL website.
Details of how the Foreign Office can provide support to British nationals when things go wrong abroad are outlined in the publication Support for British Nationals Abroad.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is free and entitles the holder to medical treatment in state-run hospitals in any EU country, plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, usually at the same cost as a local.
Every traveller to Europe (including children) should get one and keep it on them as a crucial emergency measure. If you're not holding it, it's not valid. For detailed info and to get one direct go to the EHIC website. You can also get one from post offices.
If you already hold one, check the expiry date on the front of the card. They last for up to five years, but if it's nearing expiry you can renew it online or by telephone.
The EHIC gives valuable protection, but should never be seen as a substitute for travel insurance. With an EHIC, you can only use hospitals and doctors signed up to the EHIC scheme. These are usually state-run equivalents to the NHS. If you are in any doubt, check with the hospital before starting treatment.
Travel insurance covers far more than the EHIC. For example - costs incurred if EHIC treatment isn't free, private hospital treatment where deemed medically necessary or for cancellations, delays, repatriation, baggage loss/theft and more.
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