Sunday, May 9, 2010

Aid for Ash Cloud Affected Travelers

In light of my own recent experience, I thought it might be handy to dedicate a post to enlightening links and info for those affected by the ongoing volcanic eruption in Iceland and the resulting clouds of ash that hinder, or otherwise hamper, air travel. It's probably even more beneficial to be up on some of this stuff before your trip is even booked.

★ On what to know before you go:

List o' lessons from the Practical Traveler at The New York Times.

★ On affordable accommodations (i.e., free):

★ On European airspace (the latest):

★ On reimbursement from the airlines:

"Today thousands of consumers affected by flight disruptions are still rightly clamoring for their rights to be respected in practice," said EU Health and Consumer Policy Commissioner John Dalli.

"My message to them is: do not hesitate to claim what is yours. If an airline or a tour operator continues to ignore your rights, a European Consumer Centre near you can be your next port of call," he added. Source.

On 4 May 2010, the network of European Consumer Centres (ECC-Net) published a practical complaint package, which is designed to help consumers affected by recent flight disruptions to exercise their consumer rights guaranteed under EU laws. The package includes a standard complaint letter, contact details of all airlines and other practical advice. Source.

Your rights as an air passenger apply to flight cancellations or delays caused by the volcanic ash cloud. They include (see source).

If the canceled flight has been purchased as part of a package holiday, you have more extended rights. If you have not yet started your trip you have the right to obtain a refund for the entire package (including e.g. the flight and the hotel) and if you are stranded you have the right to assistance on the spot.

You can find more information here (see source).

If you are affected by the situation, you should contact your airlines or travel agents first. If you booked a package holiday you can download a complaint form here (see source).

If you only booked an airline ticket, you can find a similar complaint form here (see source).

You should first send your complaint to your airline or your travel agent. You can search for the contact details of your airline's head office in the membership directory of these airline associations (see source).

If you are experiencing problems having your consumer rights respected, you are advised to contact a European Consumer Centre, a national consumer organization or a national enforcement body.

A European Consumer Centre (ECC) supported by the European Commission exists in every EU country as well as in Iceland and Norway. All the ECCs are working together to ensure a coordinated response to the crisis. Your local ECC can help and advise you. Find a European Consumer Centre near you.

If you do not reach an agreement with your airline or your travel agent and the value of your claim is less than 2000 €, you can under some conditions use the small claims procedure to resolve the dispute. Your local European Consumer Centre can give you more information and advice on this procedure. Source.

★ On being stuck in Paris (yay and yikes, both):

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