What am I entitled to if my flight or train is delayed?
Under European Union rules, if an airline cancels or significantly delays a flight, travelers flying into, out of, or within the bloc (with some exceptions) have the right to either a refund or a replacement flight with the original airline or with a partner airline. Those rules also apply to travelers from Britain, even though it is no longer in the European Union.
You may be entitled to reimbursement for personal costs, such as food and accommodations, if you are delayed overnight. And if your flight is delayed for three hours or more, you may also claim further compensation of between 250 euros to 600 euros, or about $265 to $635, depending on the distance of the trip.
Airlines may not be obligated to pay compensation if there are extraordinary circumstances such as extreme weather conditions, or a strike by workers not related to the airline, such as air traffic controllers.
Many American travelers in Europe are unaware of their passenger rights, which include reimbursement for luggage gone astray as a result of labor actions, said Igor Mass, a founder of My Fly Right. The group, which is based in Germany, helps about 100,000 passengers in Europe each year prosecute airlines to get compensation for flight disruptions and lost luggage. Mr. Mass advises travelers to document any inconveniences: Make sure you have written confirmation of flight delays and hold onto receipts incurred during disruptions, so you can support your claims later.
Whether such claims are resolved quickly, however, depends on the airline. Airline call centers and travel agents may be swamped by customer requests if a strike affects operations, which could lead to long wait times to get assistance.
For flights that involve connections, Mr. Tipton suggests booking the trip as a single ticket, rather than as multiple flight bookings. Under European Union and British law, a single ticket protects customers by putting the responsibility on the airline to see the traveler through to their final destination. “If you miss the first leg, it’s the airline’s problem. They still have to get you on another flight back to the U.S.,” he said.
In the event of a strike, most European railway companies will offer refunds or a chance to rebook on a later train, but it is best to check the railway operator’s website for updates. For instance, Comboios de Portugal, which operates trains in Portugal, has travel alerts on its website with information on how to seek a refund in the event of a strike.