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Passenger rights within the European Union
Good news for flight passengers in Austria and the rest of the EU.
Although a previous EU-Regulation already provided basic protection for air passengers, it was still considered that too many passengers were affected by denied boarding against their will, flight cancellation and flight delays.
Subsequently the European Parliament and the Council adopted a new regulation on passenger rights, the EU- Regulation 261/2004.
Austrian Times legal Correspondent answered some questions together with Mag. Teresa Zemanek for our readers:-
When does the EU- Regulation 261/2004 apply?
The Regulation 261/2004 applies to flights of any airline departing from the EU and to all flights arriving in the EU if the air carrier of the flight concerned is registered in the EU.
When are you entitled to invoke the EU- Regulation 261/2004?
Air passengers can invoke the EU- Regulation in case of denied boarding against their will, flight cancellation and flight delays.
According to the Regulation 261/2004 a flight is considered to be delayed if
- in the case of flights of 1 500 kilometers or less the flight departs 2 hours after the scheduled departure time,
- in the case of all intra-Community flights of more than 1 500 kilometers and of all other flights between 1 500 and 3 500 kilometers the flight departs 3 hours after the scheduled departure time
- in all other cases the flight departs 4 hours after the scheduled departure time.
What rights do you have?
Right to reimbursement or re-routing
In the case of denied boarding and flight cancellation all passengers have the choice between the reimbursement of the costs of the ticket, the re-routing to their final destination at the earliest opportunity and the re-routing to their final destination at a later date.
Some air carriers tend to offer passengers only one of those alternatives. However, passengers do not have to accept this offer for it is up to the passengers to choose which alternative suits them best.
If your flight is delayed by at least 5 hours, you are also entitled to claim reimbursement of the ticket.
Right to care
In any of the three cases the air carrier has the obligation to offer you meals and refreshment as well as two telephone calls or similar facilities.
In case of denied boarding or if necessary also in case of flight cancellation or flight delay you are even entitled to claim hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and the hotel.
Right to compensation
In case of flight cancellation and denied boarding you are entitled to receive compensation amounting to
- € 250.- for flights under 1500 km,
- € 400.- for flights within the EU of more than 1500 km
- € 600. - for all other flights.
However in case of flight cancellation the air carrier does not have to pay compensation according to this article, if the air carrier proves that the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances.
BUT: Extraordinary circumstances do not release the air carrier from his obligation to provide assistance the Regulation concerned.
If you have further damages, you can also claim compensation for those damages. Nevertheless, the compensation may be deducted from such compensation.
Where can you claim your rights?
According to a recent decision of the ECJ (C 204/08) passengers can either claim their rights at the place of departure or at the place of arrival.
Flights to Austria and Airline Operators
Many Clients enquire about flights to Austria, and although most scheduled flights are from the Major UK airports, particularly London airports, you will find that most regional airports also fly to Austria...even if only once a week as a charter flight. It is worthwhile to check with your local airport.
We have put on our Flights page the operators and links so you can get as much information as possible on getting to Austria from an airport near you. Remember that regional flights operate at only certain times of year, such as the winter ski season can have more choice of flights than summer. This is when you might need to consider flying from London airports.
There are quite a few choices and we hope that there is an option to help you get the flight, at the price you like, to Austria. Whichever you chose, we hope that you enjoy a stay in Austria..we feel it is worth the travelling to get here.
It can sometimes be worth considering to fly to Munich in Germany, this has direct train and motorway routes to Salzburg and Innsbruck. Also prices can be a little better and maybe choice of dates or flight days, suits your own needs better. The train station is directly at the airport..you go down the escalator at the airport and there it is!! There are regular trains to Salzburg, Innsbruck and Vienna.
Austrian Airlines fly from London Heathrow to: Vienna, Salzburg, Graz, Linz, Innsbruck
Austria's National airline and very good service, they fly to every city in Austria using Vienna as a hub. They have around 5/6 flights per day to Vienna.
Austrian's Red Ticket offers include: Free on board Catering and Free Baggage!!
Aer Lingus fly from Dublin to Salzburg, Vienna and Munich
Ireland's National airline, good service and fair prices.
British Airways fly from London to: Innsbruck, Salzburg and Vienna
Based at London, the UK's National airline and very good service and value. It can be quite an eye opener to discover that some of their flights (with better baggage allowance and a meal) work out cheaper than the 'No Frills' airlines
BMI fly from Aberdeen, Belfast city, Birmingham, Dublin, Edinburugh, Glasgow, London & Manchester to: Munich
BMI fly from Aberdeen, Belfast city, Dublin, EastMidlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London & Manchester to Vienna
Lufthansa fly from London to: Graz, Innsbruck, Klagenfurt, Linz, Salzburg and Vienna.
Germany's National airline, and with good connections to Austria from the UK.
Jet 2, fly from Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester to: Salzburg
Jet2 are a great option if you live in the north of England or Scotland
Easy Jet fly from London airports to: Vienna & Innsbruck. Also they fly London Edinburg & Manchester to Munich which is only a few hours by train or car to Austria.
Easy Jet fly from Bristol, Liverpool and London Gatwick to: Salzburg & Innsbruck
Easy Jet are a good schedule service and pretty keen on price. We liked the fact that they fly from Bristol, particularly as our UK office is in Devon!
It is good to have information on your destination airport. We have put the links to the various airports in Austria, then you can check out the facilities before you arrive.
Most charter companies start their winter flight schedules in December.
Austrian Airlines better baggage allowance.
Economy Class passengers will be able to pack three kilograms more into their cases, and take one item of baggage weighing up to 23 kilograms with them onto the flight. Until now, these passengers have been able to take as many items of luggage as they wanted adding up to a total weight of 20 kilograms with them.
How to dodge airline card fees and surcharges
From: Daily Mail - By This Is Money
Created 9:46 AM on 21st February 2011
Last updated at 3:12 PM on 16th June 2011
The consumer organisation Which? claims that low-cost airlines are among the worst offenders for imposing rip-off debit and credit-card surcharges.
Ryanair charges a family of four booking return flights £48 to pay by debit or credit card.
Yet Which? calculates that the cost to the airline would be about 20p to process the debit-card payment, and no more than 2% of the transaction value with a credit card.
Sky high charges: We reveal top tips to help you avoid extra costs on you holiday
Ryanair is by no means the only offender. The family of four would, for example, pay £36 to £40 in card surcharges with Flybe, or £24 to £36 with bmibaby - the variation being whether you pay with a debit or credit card.
As Which? points out, many airlines charge these extra fees per passenger per leg of the journey, when they have to process only one transaction.
It's blindingly clear what's going on. By charging these separate fees to process payments, airlines are able to keep their headline, lead-in fares lower.
Moreover, the fees are flagged up near the end of the online booking process so are unlikely to put off many bookers who by that stage are psychologically committed to the purchase.
There are ways to get round paying the surcharges. Airlines offer an alternative, niche method of payment that is free.
This means they can present the debit and credit fees as avoidable - and therefore an acceptable omission from their basic fares.
With most low-cost airlines - including Flybe, bmibaby and easyJet - the free method is to pay with Visa Electron, a card linked to a basic bank account with no overdraft facility.
The Halifax is one of the few banks to offer the card.
Ryanair's free payment option is with a prepaid MasterCard, such as FairFX.
It's a ridiculous and annoying faff to have to obtain one of these cards to avoid the airlines' iniquitous payment charges, but the savings - particularly for regular flyers - are substantial, so you may want to grit your teeth and do it.
Card surcharges are far from the only unwanted extras to watch out for when it comes to fixing up travel and holidays.
Below, I've picked out some other extortionate, underhand or irritating extras - and where possible suggested how to get round them or at least keep them to a minimum.
Essential reading: How to beat Ryanair charges
As well as card charges, depending on the airline there can be additional fees for priority boarding, for being able to sit with your travelling companions, for extra legroom, for booking on the phone, for a drink.
But the two I find most irritating are checking in luggage and, would you believe it, checking in at all!
Ryanair is the most punitive when it comes to checked-in bag fees. Per bag per return flight booked online, it charges a minimum of £30 - and up to £60 for a heavier bag for travel on ski routes, or in July and August, or any time to the Canaries.
In terms of check-in fees, step forward again Ryanair.
Online check-in costs £12 on return flights - the Irish airline doesn't allow airport check-in and will charge you £40 each way to issue a boarding card if you arrive at the airport without your printed online boarding pass.
Another villain is Jet2.com. On return flights, if you check in online it charges £4, or £8 if you have a bag to go in the hold; check in at the airport instead and it will cost you £12, or £20 with hold luggage.
Bmibaby, meanwhile, extracts its money from a £14 charge on return flights if you opt to check in at the airport rather than online.
WHAT TO DO: Travel with just hand luggage. Check your airline's weight and size restrictions for carry-on bags and stay within them - airlines are all too keen to clobber passengers who exceed limits.
In terms of check-in fees, stick to booking promotional fares with Ryanair - on some, the online check-in fees are waived.
Jet2.com also sometimes skips its lowest check-in fees on promotional fares.
With bmibaby, clearly you should check in online - but you're not allowed to if you have luggage to check in or are travelling with an infant.
Some airports - including Bristol, Liverpool and Luton - charge £3 to £4 for the privilege of using the 'fast track' security lane.
Many also make a tidy sum out of selling resealable, transparent plastic bags to put liquids in to carry through security - Bristol charges £1 for four.
WHAT TO DO: Get to the airport in good time, and buy the bags from your supermarket, where they'll cost about a quarter of the price.
Being charged extra at hotels for breakfast, and for VAT and other taxes, can get me worked up.
But what makes my blood boil more than anything else is paying through the nose for internet access.
From my experience, the more you've paid for your room, the more likely it is that you'll have to pay extra to go online.
I've just checked internet rates at a couple of five-star hotels in London, and 24 hours' access will cost me more than my monthly connection at home.
WHAT TO DO: Check what is and isn't included when you book - and if you're threatened with an extra charge for wi-fi, march off to a nearby cafe, where the chances are it will be free.
Rental firms often try to persuade you when you pick up the car to upgrade to more comprehensive insurance that reduces the 'excess' (the amount you have to pay if there's damage to the vehicle) to zero.
Excesses on car rentals are often hundreds of pounds. But you can pay as much as £10 a day for the additional cover.
My other big bugbear is petrol. Many firms insist you pay for a full tank, and expect you to return it empty (which is impossible), or charge up to 40% more than pump prices if you're supposed to return with a full tank and don't.
WHAT TO DO: Buy in advance a much better-value stand-alone excess waiver policy.
If given a choice, opt to be allowed to return the car with a full tank of petrol uncharged - and before setting off, establish where the nearest petrol station is to the rental depot to refuel at the end of your trip.
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