Passports, visas etc...
Before you book your ticket, make sure you find out about all the travel documents you need, such as your passport, visa, or an inoculation certificate.
If you do not have the right documentation you could be barred from getting on the plane - and you may not be entitled to a refund or to travel on a future flight. You may also be refused entry into the country when you arrive at your destination and be flown straight back. If so, you will not be entitled to a refund from the airline.
Getting to the airport
Make sure that you know the latest check-in time for the flight. This will usually be printed on an 'itinerary' which you will be given with your ticket. If it is not, or if you are not given a printed itinerary, ask the travel agent or the airline.
After you have checked-in and passed through security and passport control you will arrive at the departure lounge.
Remember that some airports do not announce flight departures over the public address system. Look for and keep an eye on the flight indicator screen. These will tell you when to go to the gate for boarding - it is your responsibility to be there on time.
In most departure lounges, there are cafes and bars. Beware of drinking too much whilst you wait for your flight. The Captain has the right to stop you from getting on the plane if he thinks you are drunk. Personnel will stamp 'Refused Boarding' on your ticket and you will probably find that other airlines will also refuse to carry you. You will not be entitled to a refund.
There are now many ways that you can check in for your flight – at a check-in desk, a self-service airport kiosk or online through an airline’s website. It is no longer simply a case of turning up at the airport, joining the back of queue and passing your tickets and passport over the counter to check-in staff. Whichever way you to choose to check-in, make sure you do so before the check-in deadline. And remember that the deadline is the latest time for getting to the desk (or self-serve kiosk) and not the back of the queue. If you miss the deadline, the airline has no obligation to put you on a later flight or refund your ticket. If you do arrive with little time to spare and there is a big queue, tell an airline representative - don’t risk missing your flight.
Until recently, the general practice was for airlines to give all passengers a separate and free allowance for baggage checked into the hold and for baggage taken into the cabin. But this is starting to change. You may now find that you have to pay for any baggage checked into the hold. And the price may be higher if you wait to pay at the airport rather than paying in advance.
Flight Disruptions including Cancellations and Delays
Disruption to flights, such as cancellations and delays, or missed connections, can cause considerable annoyance and inconvenience. But there are no regulations on compensation payments whatever the circumstances of the disruption. Typical airline terms and conditions include clauses which state that schedules and timings (and even dates!) are not guaranteed.
Most airlines follow a Recommended Practice on "General Conditions of Carriage" from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The Recommended Practice is updated from time to time. The clauses on delays and cancellations in the most recent versions give passengers the choice, in the event of cancellation or failure to operate "reasonably according to schedule", of a later flight on the same airline, or of some other "mutually agreed" alternative transportation ("within a reasonable period of time"), or a refund. But sometimes you have to know your rights and insist on your choice!
including Cancellations and Delays
Disruption to flights, such as cancellations, delays or missed connections can cause considerable annoyance and inconvenience. But there are no regulations on compensation payments whatever the circumstances of the disruption. Typical airline terms and conditions include clauses which state that schedules and timings (and even dates!) are not guaranteed.
Most airlines follow a Recommended Practice on "General Conditions of Carriage" from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). The Recommended Practice is updated from time to time. The clauses on delays and cancellations in the most recent versions give passengers the choice, in the event of cancellation or failure to operate "reasonably according to schedule", of a later flight on the same airline, or some other "mutually agreed" alternative transportation ("within a reasonable period of time"), or a refund. But you have to know your rights and sometimes insist on your choice!
Were you on a flight from a European airport or a flight from an airport outside the EU to an EU airport on an EU carrier....
....and you voluntarily surrendered your reservation on an overbooked flight? If you voluntarily surrender your reservation on an overbooked flight, this must be in exchange for benefits under conditions to be agreed upon between you and the carrier. This might be in the form of vouchers. In addition you are entitled to; A refund within seven days of the full price you paid for your ticket for the part or parts of your journey you did not make (and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to your original travel plans) and a return flight to the departure airport as soon as possible.
Regulation EC1107/2006 sets out rights for “disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when traveling by air”.
Airlines must not refuse to accept a reservation or to carry a passenger on a flight from an airport covered by the Regulation on the grounds of disability or reduced mobility. However, an airline may refuse to take a reservation or allow you to board the aircraft if to do so would be against safety regulations or if the aircraft or its doors are too small.
Sometimes airlines are unable, for any number of reasons, to fly to the destination printed on the ticket. If your flight is diverted, the airline must get you to the destination airport on your ticket or reservation* - at no extra cost to you. Sometimes the airline may arrange buses or ask you to take a train and send in the receipt to be reimbursed.
*The main exception to this would be if a flight was disrupted to avoid war or civil strife.
It can be disappointing when you do not get the level of service you expect from an airline. But the reality is that there are no regulations setting out what airlines must provide in terms of in-flight service, nor is in-flight service included in the airlines' contracts with their passengers. Airlines thus generally take the line that they cannot be held accountable should one (or more) of the usual elements of their service not be available or not be up to scratch.
Many air journeys involve changing between flights in order to get to the final destination. Sometimes they involve making a connection between two or more flights on the same airline; sometimes there may be more than one airline involved in providing the transportation. If disruption to one flight causes you to miss your connection, your rights are different depending on whether:
Unfortunately, baggage does not always arrive at its intended destination. Or, if it does, it might turn up damaged or with something missing. When this happens, an airline is liable for the damages under the Montreal Convention. But the Convention puts a maximum limit on the airline’s liability of 1,000 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) per passenger. And it puts a time limit on making claims for compensation.
Different airlines charge different prices for the same trip. An individual airline can also charge different amounts for what appears to be an identical product. For example, the price will usually be different according to how far in advance you book, and you will usually pay more if you want to be able to change your reservation. Peak hour flights are always more expensive: many routes are also seasonal, with fares varying considerably at different times of the year.
But whatever the time of year or day or the conditions of a ticket, airlines are for the most part free to decide for themselves how much they charge. The government does not generally regulate prices.
This advice sheet is designed to deal with the types of problems you may experience when traveling on a charter flight that has been booked either as part of a package holiday or on its own.
What is a charter flight?
Flights are classed as either charter or scheduled and you will need to determine which type of flight you have. It is important to distinguish between the two to determine which company you need to complain to. If you travel on a charter flight your contract will be with the relevant tour operator, rather than the airline. You will, therefore, find that you are bound by the tour operator's terms and conditions, which, in turn, will bind you to the airline's conditions of carriage!
Charter flights are usually operated on a restricted basis - i.e. once or twice a week, on set days, usually to popular tourist holiday destinations, such as the Spanish Costas. Charter (and sometimes scheduled) airline companies operate these flights on behalf of a tour operator, or a number of tour operators sharing the same aircraft.
If you are likely to have any needs for which you think an airline might have to make special arrangements you must discuss them with the airline or travel agent as soon as you start to plan your trip. You may find that your choice of airline will have to be based on which one can best meet your particular needs. And before you book, ask if the airline is going to charge extra for any special services it has agreed to provide for you. Some examples of the sorts of needs for which airlines might have to make special arrangements for are if you are physically disabled and may need help getting around airport terminals, on and off the plane, or moving around inside the cabin; you will be traveling with babies or very young children (particularly if you will need a cot); you are buying a ticket for an unaccompanied minor (you will need to check the age limit with the airline concerned); You have special dietary needs. This list is only a sample. If you are not sure whether your particular requirements fit into the category of 'special needs' ask the airline or the travel agent.