Following the crash of the Russian aircraft in Egypt at the beginning of the month, all UK flights to and from Sharm el-Sheikh were grounded on Wednesday 4th November while a security assessment of the resort’s international airport was completed. Although limited flights have now resumed, many travellers in the resort may have to wait for some time before they will be able to fly home, and even then they may still be required to travel without their luggage. The continuing advice for anyone planning to take a holiday in the Red Sea resort is to expect delays according to Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond. So if you have travelled or are considering travelling to the Red Sea holiday destination what are your rights? If you are delayed or stranded are you entitled to flight delay compensation?
What should passengers currently in Sharm el-Sheikh do?
Travellers who were on package holidays when flights were grounded last week should be looked after by their tour operator, which is legally obliged to get them home. Until a flight is available, customers will usually be allowed to stay in their original hotel, or will be moved to one of a similar standard on a half-board or all-inclusive basis.
Airlines hoping to operate rescue flights out of Sharm el-Sheikh have said that they will accommodate passengers until a flight home is arranged. EasyJet have had to postpone flights and has issued the following information:
“All customers will be provided with hotel accommodation and we are keeping them informed. We would advise passengers also to check Flight Tracker for updates.”
The airline is liable to pay for a hotel and food for independent travellers when a flight with an EU airline – or flight from an EU airport – is cancelled. Extra consular staff have been sent to the resort to help British holidaymakers.
Are you entitled to compensation if your flight is delayed or cancelled?
Compensation for flight delays and cancellations will unfortunately not be payable, as although EU regulation 216/2004 entitles passengers to cash compensation when their flight is delayed for three hours or more, the regulation does not apply if the delay is beyond an airline’s control.
What are the rights of passengers due to fly to Sharm el Sheikh?
The government, via the Foreign Office, issued guidance on November 7th, advising passengers that travelling to the northern Sinai Peninsula at the current juncture is not recommended. British travel firms and airlines have since announced that they will not be flying out to the resort until at least the 25th November as government continues to review security at the resort’s airport.
Those due to travel on a package break will be entitled to a full refund – or a replacement holiday – if their trip is cancelled. Abta, the travel association, advised those due to travel within 48 hours to contact their travel company to discuss their options.
Those travelling independently are entitled to a refund from their airline, under EU regulations, if their flight is cancelled. EU regulations make it clear that, when a flight with an EU airline – or from an EU airport – is cancelled, an airline is liable to pay for the cost of a hotel and subsistence for all those stranded as a result, until a replacement flight is provided. Should your airline advise you to buy your own food and accommodation, keep all receipts, and keep such costs to a reasonable minimum, before making a claim when you get back to the UK.
For non-EU airlines, the Civil Aviation Authority says:
“Some may provide refreshments and accommodation for passengers while they wait for their delayed flight. Some airlines will not. If they do not, you can try to claim for reimbursement of your expenses due to the delay. You have the right to claim for this under the Montreal Convention. Be aware that you may struggle to be reimbursed for anything other than meals or overnight hotel accommodation, so spend wisely. Keep receipts.”
If you have booked accommodation independently, however, your contract is with the hotel or villa and you are responsible for any cancellation. If you can’t get there, you can try your best to persuade them to give you a refund or to rebook for a later date. However, they are not obliged to do this and you may lose money.
Are you covered by travel insurance?
Your policy may pay out a small amount for very long delays (usually over 12 hours), but not usually enough to pay for more than a meal or two. A few policies have cover for a “consequential loss”, such as a hotel booking made independently. Check the terms and conditions of your policy.
Will people be reunited with their luggage?
Airlines are advising passengers to mark their luggage with their names and addresses both inside and out, so that if luggage labels are lost or torn off in transit they can still see who they belong to. The government has assured passengers that their luggage will be sent on to them, though there could be a delay of several days before they see it again.