A Fly-by-Night Special Report: How to File for Compensation in the event of flight cancellation

“Two years ago I was planning to go back home from London. The flight was cancelled,” recalls Askold Klyus, the founder of MyAviaHelp company. “Sitting beside me in the concourse, a girl was crying over a cancelled flight. A police officer was trying to console her, offering her a cup of coffee. Concerned, despair-filled faces, along with the image of the girl crying left a lasting impression on my memory. Every person who has faced such a situation clearly remembers the ensuing problems caused by an airline’s negligence. It is quite discomforting to realize you do not know your own rights in such a predicament.” At the moment, his company is collecting compensations from air carriers and guarantees a 98% collection rate. For this reason, we have decided to interview Askold and find out how to proceed in the event of flight cancellation.

Askold Klyus
Founder of MyAviaHelp company (myaviahelp.com)

Why do airlines cancel flights and what are their liabilities?

The reasons are numerous, but very often airlines cancel flights in advance due to commercial factors. In such cases, the airline must notify its passengers no later than 2 weeks before the flight. In other situations, a flight delay can gradually turn into its cancellation. Then, a passenger must be transported to the destination point by the air carrier’s next flight or a flight from its partner company. When this is impossible, flight ticket money should be returned within 7 days. The sum of the required compensation ranges between $135 – $650 per passenger.

If a charter flight is cancelled, is it possible to get compensation?

It does not matter whether you have a regular or a charter flight (or even a low-cost, more affordable carrier). It is essential to understand that when a passenger pays money for a flight, they are in effect signing a contract with the airline company which is obliged to deliver him or her to a specific destination at a specific time. Flight delay, cancellation, or overbooking (a denial of entry on the plane) are all violations of a given agreement by a carrier.

What is the timeframe to file for compensation?

It all depends on a country where the compensation is filed. In Ukraine, for instance, it comes down to 2 years. The maximum term of limitations we’ve dealt with is 6 years.

What should be done right away to prove the fault of an airline?

First of all, it is important to get a stamped document which testifies the event of flight cancellation and/or flight substitution. Make sure it contains true and exact reasons of the given force majeure. If this proves impossible, a cancellation stamp on an itinerary receipt will work too, although it won’t specify the reasons. To do this, find your airline representative at one of their podiums, for example, or at the airline ticket desk. If you are in the airport concourse, such representatives can be found at the gate (a place where passengers leave the airport and get on their airplane). In case a representative cannot be found, ask any airport employee where to get the abovementioned document. As a rule, it can be done at the airport information stall. Certainly, you can always call an airline’s customer service and ask for updated flight information (an airline telephone number can be indicated on the airport banner).

You could also visit an airline’s website. In any case, save the tickets, boarding pass, and luggage claim tickets. I would also recommend taking a photo of them as a backup. It is also a good idea to take a picture of an airport display board listing departures which shows current time and your flight’s status. Also collect all food, hotel, and taxi (bus, train) receipts related to your flight cancellation to demonstrate financial hardships endured.

you can file for compensation if a flight’s cancellation was due to carrier fault, not just because of a force majeure like weather conditions or a strike of airport/airline workers. Please note that a plane breakdown is not considered a force majeure.

What compensation should an airline provide on the spot?

It depends on the waiting time for the next flight and the distance of a flight. If you are waiting for the next flight for:
  • more than 2 hours with a flight distance up to 1500 km (flights around Ukraine, and from Kyiv to Minks, Munich, Sofia, Riga etc.)
  • more than 3 hours for flights ranging from 1500 km to 3500 km (from Boryspil to London, Barcelona, Brussels, Geneva etc.)
  • more than 4 hours with a flight over 3500 km (from Kyiv to New York, Beijing, Colombo etc.)
then you are entitled to:
  • refreshments
  • two free of charge phone calls or text/fax messages, e-mail (depending on what an airport can offer)
  • transfers between airport, hotel, and back to airport
  • a hotel room if you need to wait for the flight for one or more nights

Whom should passengers call or write to get a compensation?

Passengers are lawfully entitled to ask an airline for a compensation. For this, a traveler needs to describe the situation and refer to the applicable law that should be invoked in their specific case as well as the specific airline’s transportation rules. Remember that airlines are a huge, powerful organizations. When explaining your situation, be as honest as possible. In addition, when requesting compensation, attach travel documents and collected proof of the airline’s fault. You are also fully entitled to sue the airline at the very beginning or after failed compensation negotiations.

Based on our experience, airlines avoid paying compensation whenever possible. That’s why we strongly recommend hiring a professional lawyer who specializes in the sphere of passenger air transportation.

Can an airline blacklist me after such appeals?

This is simply impossible. With this in mind, don’t hesitate to ask for compensation.
I hope your readers will have more enjoyable flights and fewer flight cancellations!