Passenger rights - what happens when your flight gets cancelled

2014-06-03 10:44
Air France baggage tag. (News24 Travel Reader/ Nick Hanley)

Air France baggage tag. (News24 Travel Reader/ Nick Hanley)

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Johannesburg – When Air France cancelled a flight from OR Tambo to Paris on Monday, after initially delaying it for two days, the airline unsurprisingly had a bunch of very unhappy passengers lining up for explanation and compensation.  

The airline apologised for the inconvenience caused by the cancellation of Flight AF995 in a statement on Monday afternoon, citing technical problems with the A380 aircraft operating on the route as the reason for the delay and eventual cancellation.

They also said that they made their decision in the interest of flight and passenger safety.  

According to the statement all passengers had been assisted by Air France staff and they had been provided with hotel accommodation on Sunday.  

However, News24 Travel has received feedback from a number of readers who seemed particularly unhappy about the way things turned out.  

We decided to check what the compensation procedure is from the airline’s side when it comes to flight cancellations.

According to, in the event of flight cancellation or denied boarding the passengers concerned have the right to:  

- reimbursement of the cost of the ticket within seven days or a return flight to the first point of departure or re-routing to their final destination;

- care (refreshments, meals, hotel accommodation, transport between the airport and place of accommodation, two free telephone calls, telex or fax messages, or e-mails)

What is Air France's policy?

While Air France did offer passengers care by offering accommodation, many passengers seem to have taken the rebooking of flights into their own hands. 

In cases such as these, passengers can process a claim through Air France's website at a later stage or send a fax to +202 2580 5797.

In order for the claim to be considered fully, passengers are requested to provide a brief, written explanation of their case, as well as a flight number, date and concerned routing.

According to Air France's website the Customer Care Department should respond within 4 weeks, but that longer response times may be experienced if there is an influx of claims (which may happen in the case of Flight AF995). 

A spokesperson from Air France stressed that there is no going rate for compensation, but that each claim is evaluated separately and that compensation may differ from customer to customer. 

What if they don't compensate? 

In cases where passengers are not reimbursed or offered a comparable flight by the airline in question, passengers do have the right to lodge a complaint with the National Consumer Commission. 

Although the complaint might take some time to resolve considering the current practice at the Commission, this process is free and may result in the airline being served with a compliance notice if the Commission finds that the airline has contravened the Act.

In this case they would have to refund the consumer with interest up to the date of the refund.  

If the compensation does not ‘suit' the consumer, however, they will have no claim. A consumer is only entitled to a refund or a comparable alternative.   

Find out more about passenger rights when flight schedules change.  

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Read more on:    flights  |  air travel  |  travel  |  travel south africa

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