Boom bam boom!
Yes, you as a traveller do have rights! I am very surprised and even angry that so many people do not know about them. The number of times that I heard from my friends or family (not even talking about the strangers) some bullshit agony about what-if-this-and-that is unbelievable. I have seen people panicking and shivering as if the life was in danger when, in fact, it was a simple flight delay or luggage loss. Ok, ok let’s not talk about situations when one really really needs to be somewhere exactly on time, lose half of your weekend because of a massive delay or the very special outfit for that day is in the luggage which got lost during the connecting flights.
No, I want to talk about the cases when you actually just need to get from A to B, or A to C via B, ok?
I know that one of the reasons why you might be afraid to travel cheap is because you are afraid of connecting flights. Right? You are afraid that you might miss the second flight and oh-no lose the money/have to buy new more expensive tickets/etc. Stop! NO! If you miss the second connecting flight from the same booking (you bought A to C via B as one ticket) because the first flight was late for whatever reason, you go to the Airline booth and talk. They have to put you on the next available flight and they have to provide you with some food (usually vouchers for 5-10 euros, not much, I know, but still). In case when you have to wait for the flight till the next day they have to and they will provide you with a hotel room (with breakfast), a taxi to and from the hotel (or transport tickets) and ideally a survival kit (when you have your toothbrush and pyjamas in your hold luggage). All you need is to find this booth, explain your situation, show your tickets and present your ID. By the time you come there, they usually will be informed about the delay. Don’t just sit there and panic: first get all the information (and then panic hehe, just kidding).
By the way, all the hotels in which I had to stay in similar circumstances were very nice and very close to the airport. My favourite was in Tallinn (yep, Tallinn again, when I used to fly to Europe from Moscow with Estonian airlines and the tickets were ridiculously cheap. I saw the city during long stopovers and stayed in this hotel next to the airport quite a few times).
In case of long delays and short-notice cancellations from A to B when you travel in Europe you are entitled to (obviously) a full refund or a free alternate flight. Also, you might be claiming the E261 compensation (€250 for short distances and €600 for longer). I put a link for you to read more, I can say that I used it once when my flight from Glasgow was cancelled at the last minute. Well, in my case I was happy to stay one more day with Andy, but I missed a day at work and I claimed the compensation. It arrived at my bank account within a few weeks. Sweet :) Who doesn’t like free money? But this form applies only to delays and cancellations caused by the airline/airport: weather conditions or local protests do not count (the airline still will have to put you on the next possible flight free of charge).
When AirBerlin cancelled one of my connecting flights (thus the entire booking) two days before the scheduled departure I called the support and they told me that they had a right to cancel any flight 48h prior to the departure (oh I wish I knew about the E261 then). I studied their rules carefully and haven’t found any information about this 48h-policy. I dropped them an email with facts and dates, especially stating that actually, I got the email about the cancellation less than 48h in advance. In a few weeks, I got a letter of apologies and a voucher for a free flight. When I was moving to Berlin from Moscow it cost me nothing.
And the last one: your luggage did not show up at the carousel. Sucks, I know. And it could be lost indeed (hopefully, nothing precious inside – but don’t put your cameras and such in hold anyway, yeah?), but then you can claim the money. I don’t know exactly the procedure but I heard a story from a friend who’s luggage was lost and he listed everything that was (and not inside) and got a €1500 compensation. Funny part: they found the luggage a few months later. But usually, the luggage is getting lost because of the connecting flights. I agree, if you are travelling specifically for an event and your suit is in that bag it really really sucks. But I think that in this case, you can claim a compensation from the Airline if you can prove the fact of the event (I heard something like this from a lost and found luggage lady). But if not, don’t worry: walk directly to the lost luggage office, you will have to fill in a few forms, describe your bag, leave your details and where you stay. It might get more complicated if you stay just for a day, but if you came for a few weeks, don’t worry: they will find it and deliver to your door with a prior call to confirm the time. My luggage was lost four times. Every time everything got back to me safe and sound:) It happened in Switzerland, Spain, France and Thailand. I was missing fresh clothes but it never took longer than two days to get back my precious bag :)
Things can happen, we cannot foresee everything. We make plans and then something doesn’t work. It’s fine. Stay calm, take a deep breath and go find a solution. Because there always will be a solution. Even when you’re stuck in the airport.
xx, love, Liza