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What Is the “Right to Care” in Air Travel?

You must have read about it, maybe even a lot of times – if you have to wait long at the airport, you have the right to care from the airline, but what does that mean?

What is the “Right to care” in air travel?

In short, if you’re stuck waiting at the airport, very often you’re entitled to certain services. Mostly, this includes a free meal and drink, and for longer delays, also free hotel accommodation and free airport transfer. The best thing is that when travelling with European airlines, you have this right ON ALL FLIGHTS.

With other airlines, you have this right on flights departing from Europe.

What Is the “Right to Care” in Air Travel?

“Right to Care” is the right to food, accommodation and airport transfer, if and when there is a need to wait much longer at the airport than planned. The airline has to provide these services to all its passengers. If you are flying with European airlines, you have this right on all their flights.

  • If you have to wait 3 or more hours extra, you have the right to care from the airline. This is regulated both by the EU and the UK air passenger rights regulations. In this case, the airline has to offer free food and two free phone calls or emails. Mostly it’s provided in the form of coupons, that you can exchange at the airport cafes, shops or restaurants.
  • If you have to wait the night, you have the right also to a free hotel stay and free airport transfer. The airline has to take care of you.

You have this right also when your flight is delayed or cancelled due to so-called extraordinary circumstances. These can include extremely bad weather, political unrest, strikes, or mechanical issues with the aircraft. In these situations, you mostly can’t get European flight compensation but you have the right to care from the airline.

You have this right to care also when your flight is delayed or cancelled due to so-called extraordinary circumstances.

You Are Given Nothing – What to Do?

Sometimes, you may not be offered anything at all.

Unfortunately, it may happen. If that happens, you can buy a meal yourself, book a hotel room for the night, and then file a claim with the airline. Save the receipts in this case. You will need them.

Later, when making the extra expenses claim with the airline, refer to Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, Article 9. Of course, the airlines know about this, but it will help you to make a stronger case. They will better understand that you also know the rules.

Check flight compensation online.

By Europe, European Union and EU here on this website we mean all EU Member States, the United Kingdom (UK), Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, Saint Martin (French Antilles), the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland. This is where these European regulations work.

Extraordinary Circumstances

As already mentioned, even when your flight is delayed or cancelled last-minute due to so-called extraordinary circumstances, you still retain this right.

Still, the airline has to take care of you. It has to:

  • Provide free food and two free phone calls or emails.
  • Provide free hotel accommodation and free airport transfer if the wait is long and over night.

At the same time, in these situations, it’s generally not possible to claim European flight compensation due to the unforeseen nature of these events. The airline can’t be held responsible for things that it couldn’t avoid or foresee.

Two Phone Calls, Emails or Faxes – Is This Still Valid in 2024?

According to Regulation 261/2004 and Regulation UK261, you have a right to two free phone calls, emails or faxes if there is an unplanned long wait at the airport.

Yes, it’s still there written in European flight compensation regulation, but…

We have been skipping the faxes part on purpose.

Why? Well, because no one uses it. How happy would you be if there was a 5-hour long Ryanair flight delay, and the airline would give you two faxes? To whom would you send those free Ryanair faxes? I wouldn’t be surprised if Ryanair provided that as a joke at some point. How many would even know what is fax?

The same goes for calls and emails lately. No one cares about it anymore. There is WiFi at the airport. Mostly. And most people use that to get in touch with their loved ones and to update others on changes in their travel plans. If, however, you want to call someone, mostly you’ll just make that call from your phone. At the same time, theoretically, yes you can ask the airline to pay for two of these calls or to help you to make them.

Ryanair airplane

Can You Get Food Coupons Also From Low-Cost Airlines in Europe?

Yes, the rules are the same also with low-cost airlines.

Also, with airlines like RyanairWizz Air and easyJet, you can get a free meal and a free hotel stay if necessary. If the wait is very long and the airline is putting everyone in a hotel, they have to provide free airport transfer to that hotel.

What is your experience with the right to care? Have you ever been in such a situation? Did the airline provide you with free food or a free hotel stay?

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