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Passenger rights

On February 17th, 2005 new regulations entered into force in the European Union, reinforcing the rights of airline passengers to a significant extent. The regulations relate to regular and charter flights, as well as to domestic and international ones, operated by all airlines, both low-cost and those offering full service.

An airline that operates a flight is obliged to transport the passengers together with their luggage and to observe passenger rights

Refusal to accept on board and cancelling flights

If the carrier infringes any of the regulations presented below, you may file a complaint with the President of the Polish Civil Aviation Office (ULC) and/or assert your claims in court, once the respective carrier's complaint procedure has been exhausted.

If the passenger is not admitted on board an airplane or if a flight is cancelled, the airline carrier is obliged to offer the passengers financial compensation and assistance. These rights are in force for all flights, including charter flights, provided that the passenger arrived in due time at the ticket and luggage check-in:

  • from airports in the EU or
  • to an airport in the area of the EU from a country outside the EU, if the flight was operated by an EU airline.

Refusal to accept a passenger on board

If the number of passengers that have arrived at check in exceeds the number of seats available in the airplane, the carrier should first find persons who are willing to give up their seats to other passengers that were planning to fly, against compensation agreed upon. The carrier is obliged to offer these volunteers reimbursement of the travel fare (together with a flight free of charge, if necessary, to the airport where the journey started) or an alternative flight to their destination.

If none of the passengers volunteer, the carrier is obliged to offer them compensation in cash in the following amount:

  • 250 EUR for flights on routes up to and including 1500 km
  • 400 EUR for flights on routes over 1500 km within the EU and for other flights between 1500 and 3500 km
  • 600 EUR for flights on routes over 3500 km beyond EU territory.

If the delay in the flight to the given destination is respectively less than 2, 3 or 4 hours, the compensation may be reduced by 50%.

The carrier is also obliged to do the following:

return the travel fare already paid (depending on individual needs, with a flight free of charge to the airport where the journey started) or propose an alternative flight to the destination airport;

ensure, depending on individual needs, board and lodging at a hotel (including transport), as well as other services (e.g. telephone, telex, fax, etc.).

Cancelling flights

If a flight is cancelled, the passenger is entitled to obtain the following from the carrier:

  • a reimbursement of the travel fare already paid (depending on individual needs, with a flight free of charge to the airport where the journey started) or an offer of an alternative flight to the destination airport;
  • depending on individual needs, board and lodging at a hotel (including transport), as well as other services (e.g. telephone, telex, fax, etc.).

The carrier is obliged to reimburse the travel fare within 7 days, in cash, by bank transfer or by cheque or, upon written consent of the passenger, to give the latter a voucher that can be used for a subsequent flight.

If any of the above rights are refused to the passenger, a complaint has to be filed immediately with the carrier.

Significant delays

If the carrier infringes any of the regulations presented below, you may file a complaint with the President of the Civil Aviation Office (ULC) and (or) assert your rights in court, once the carrier's complaint procedure has been exhausted.

Immediate assistance

If the passenger arrived at the ticket and luggage check in due time, including charter flights

  • from airports in the EU or
  • to an airport in the area of the EU from a country outside the EU, if the flight was operated by an EU airline.

and if the carrier operating the given flight expects the following delays to occur:

  • 2 hours or more for flights on routes up to and including 1500 km,
  • 3 hours of more for flights on routes over 1500 km in the EU and for other flights between 1500 and 3500 km,
  • 4 hours or more for flights on routes over 3500 km beyond the EU,

the airline carrier is obliged to ensure, depending on individual needs, board and lodging at a hotel (including transport), as well as other services (e.g. telephone, telex, fax, etc.).

If the operator has justified reasons to expect that a flight will be delayed by at least five hours in respect to the scheduled departure, it should offer the passengers a choice between:

  • reimbursement of the amount due for the entire flight that has not taken place;
  • reimbursement of the amount due for a part or more parts of the flight that has not taken place;
  • reimbursement of the amount due for a part or parts of a flight that has already taken place, if the flight does not serve any purpose any more with respect to the passenger's initial travel plan;
  • reimbursement of the amount due for a part or parts of a flight that has already taken place, if the flight does not serve any purpose any more with respect to the passenger's initial travel plan, including, if appropriate, a return flight to the initial place of departure, as soon as possible.

If any of the above rights are refused to the passenger, a complaint has to be filed immediately with the carrier.

Claiming damages at a later date

If a carrier from outside the EU is responsible for a delay of a flight to any airport in the world, the passenger is entitled to claim damages in the amount of up to 4150 SDR** for any damage incurred. If the carrier avoids taking responsibility for the damage incurred by the passenger, the latter may assert his or her claims in court.

Passengers may claim damages from the carrier with whom they concluded an agreement or from the flight operator, if different from that carrier.

Luggage

Passengers may claim damages from the carrier up to the amount of 1000 SDR** for luggage that has been damaged, destroyed, delayed or lost during flights operated by airlines from an EU country to any airport in the world. If the carrier avoids taking responsibility for the damage incurred by the passenger, the latter may assert his or her claims in court.

Any claims related to luggage that was checked in and became damaged have to be made within 7 days of the date of collection of the luggage, and, if it is delayed, within 21 days of its collection.

Passengers may claim damages from the carrier with whom they concluded an agreement or from the flight operator, if different from that carrier.

Injury or death as a result of an accident

Passengers are entitled to claim damages for injury or death as a result of an accident during a flight operated by an EU carrier to any airport in the world. Passengers are entitled to be paid an advance in order to cover immediate needs. If the carrier avoids taking responsibility for the damage incurred by the passenger, the latter may assert his or her claims in court.

Passengers may claim damages from the carrier with whom they concluded a contract or from the flight operator, if different from that carrier.

Organised trips

If regulations related to organised trips are violated, you may assert your rights in court. Passengers may claim damages from the trip organisers for failure to perform the services described in the agreement if the latter was concluded in an EU country, regardless of the travel destination. These rights are in force in the case of failure to ensure a suitable flight as described in the agreement concluded between the organiser of the trip and the passenger. Moreover, if the organiser fails to perform the obligations arising from the agreement in respect of a large part of the organised trip, it shall be obliged to ensure alternative services, including transport, and no costs shall be borne by the trip participants in relation to this.

Leaflet: Passenger rights

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(source: www.ulc.gov.pl)