The current Lufthansa strike might very well become one of the biggest and most costly strikes to ever hit the aviation industry with more than 400.000 passengers being affected. But, what are your rights in case of disruptions such as this, and what can you reasonably expect from the airline.
Since strikes are usually considered an extraordinary circumstance, the airlines are not automatically obligated to offer their customers monetary compensation, however that doesn’t mean that you are left to fend for yourself or sleep on the airport floor.
Passenger rights regulations require airlines to take care of their passengers, even though the disruption is outside of their control.
We’ve assembled some rules of thumb that you can use as a benchmark and a guideline. If you’re currently stranded in the airport or simply just want to be knowledgeable if similar things should happen in the future.
There are different thresholds as to when the airline is obligated to offer care to their passengers.
- 0-1500km (0-930mi.) – 2 hours
- +1500 km (+930mi.) for flights within EU and 1500-3500km (930mi.-2175mi.) for all other flights – 3 hours
- +3500km (+2175mi.) for all flights not covered above – 4 hours
When this threshold is reached the airline has to offer you refreshments, food and access to 2 calls or messages (phone, email, etc.) If you are stranded overnight the airline additionally has to offer you hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and the place of accommodation.
When the delay is over 5 hours the airline shall offer you a choice between reimbursement of the ticket price transferred to your bank account within 7 days and a return flight to your first point of departure.
If your flight gets cancelled, you are entitled to all rights as in the event of delay and moreover you are entitled to be rebooked to another flight that gets you to your final destination. If you decide to be rebooked at the earliest opportunity the airline should try and book you on the next possible flight even if it is with another airline.
In short, don’t accept overnight stays on the airport floor!