Tuesday 05 July 2022

As Schiphol plans to cancel hundreds of flights, what are your rights?

Photo: Brandon Hartley

Schiphol airport will cancel hundreds of flights this summer in an effort to cut back on waiting times and deal with staff shortages. But if you’ve booked a flight or a package deal, what are your rights?

Your flight has been cancelled
An airline is allowed to cancel or change your flight times up to two weeks before departure and you are entitled to either your money back or another flight.

If a flight is cancelled less than two weeks before departure, you will probably be entitled to compensation and an alternative flight.  Read up on the rules in the EU.

Your flight has been cancelled and you had booked a package holiday
Your first port of call is your tour operator, who will have to refund the complete amount if there is no alternative flight.

Your flight has been cancelled and you booked your own hotel, car hire etc
You can then claim back your flight but the other costs are down to you. Sometimes you will have to pay the full amount, other times just cancellation costs.

The consumers union Consumentenbond is looking into filing a mass claim against Schiphol to win compensation for people who are faced with additional costs because of the flight cancellations.

You have been booked on a flight that leaves from a different airport
This situation depends on whether the alternative offer is reasonable. If you are flying from Brussels rather than Schiphol, a court may rule this is a reasonable alternative. However, if you are told about the new departure location when you are already at Schiphol, your airline should pay the extra travel costs.

Your flight has been delayed
If your flight is delayed by at least three hours you are also entitled to compensation unless the delay has been caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances‘ such as bad weather or a strike.

Your airline or travel agent refuses to cooperate
If you paid for your flight by credit card, you have extra protection and can ask your credit card company to refund the money.

You can also approach one of the many claim organisations which work on a no cure no pay basis to get back your money. Reckon on paying around one third of the cost. Your final resort is the courts.

Your airline or travel company is blaming Schiphol for cancelling flights
If you have booked a trip you have signed a contract with the airline, not Schiphol, and they are responsible.

You don’t know if your flight is going ahead
The uncertainty can be very worrying but don’t take the step of cancelling the trip yourself. Then you will have no rights.  Sit tight and wait until you hear.

You want to avoid the chaos at Schiphol whatever happens
Tour operator association ANVR says that the chaos at Schiphol is not an acceptable reason to cancel a holiday or trip free of charge, so if you do, you will face fees. Some airlines will allow you to cancel a flight free of charge, so check the conditions carefully.

You have missed your flight because of the long queues
You will need to prove that you were at the airport in time – and that means in line with your airline’s recommendations, so take photos of the airport clock and the queues to prove it.

As yet, it is unclear if Schiphol will pick up the bill for missed flights caused by the shortage of security staff and baggage handlers. According to the Consumentenbond, this issue too is likely to end up in court.

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