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Flight change, delay and cancellation

by fabricio.fagundes published May 30, 2018 06:38 PM, last modified May 30, 2018 06:38 PM

Delays and cancellations can happen in the air transport market anywhere around the world, mainly due to climatic adversities. They may cause inconvenience to passengers, but also to airlines and airports, and result in extra costs for everyone.

 In order to minimize the discomfort for passengers while waiting for their flight, ANAC has established the following obligations to be accomplished by airline companies:

  • Inform the passenger about the estimated time of departure, in case of delay, at every 30 minutes;
  • Immediately inform flight cancellation;
  • Offer material assistance (communication, food and accommodation) free of charge when applicable and according to the length of the wait;
  • Rebook, provide full ticket refund or provide transport by other means of transportation to be chosen by the passenger, in cases of cancellation or delays of more than 4 hours and denied boarding.

 

Denied Boarding

Denied Boarding happens when the airline needs to deny boarding passengers who meet all boarding requirements. This may happen in some situations, such as:

  • When there is a need to change the  aircraft planned for the trip for a smaller aircraft, with less seats;
  • When there is a need for the aircraft to be lighter for flight due to safety reasons; and
  • Overbooking.

In cases of denied boarding, the airline should look for volunteers who agree to board another flight by receiving advantages (money, extra tickets, miles, hotel accommodation, etc.) to be freely negotiated with the passengers. If a passenger accepts advantages, the airline is allowed to request the passenger to sign a receipt as a proof the proposal was accepted.

If a few passengers accept the advantages and some passengers are denied boarding, the airline must immediately pay a financial compensation to passengers suffering denied boarding. For domestic flights, 250 SDRs must be paid and 500 SDRs must be paid for international flights. SDR means Special Drawing Right, a currency created by the International Monetary Fund that varies daily. Currently one SDR is equivalent to  R$ 4.00. SDR value can be consulted at the Brazilian Central Bank website (www.bcb.gov.br).

In addition to the financial compensation, the airline must offer alternatives for rebooking on another flight offered by the airline or a flight offered by other airlines; refund of the total amount paid; and material assistance, if applicable.

 

Material assistance

The airline must offer material assistance (means of communication, food and accommodation) in cases of delay, cancellation, interruption of flight and denied boarding, when the passenger is at the airport.

The airline must offer material assistance free of charge according to the  period the passenger stays waiting, starting from the time of the delay, the cancellation or the denied boarding, as  below:

  • 1 hour of delay: assistance for communication (internet, phone calls, etc.);
  • 2 hours of delay: assistance for food (voucher, snack, drinks, etc.);
  • 4 hours of delay or more: hotel booking (only in case of overnight stay at the airport) and  transportation to and from the hotel. If the passenger is in his/her  place of residence, the airline may  offer  transportation to and from his/her residence only.

Passengers needing special assistance and their companions will always be entitled to hotel booking, regardless of the requirement of an overnight stay at the airport.

 

Travel changes

Rebooking travel date

To rebook the flight, the passenger should contact the airline or the travel agency where the ticket was bought. Rebooking may have additional costs and will depend on  flight availability. Ticket price consists of:

  • The value of air transport service,
  • Airport taxes;
  • Governamental fees.


Rebooking costs are calculated considering the value of  transport services and they will vary  according to the rules of the contract of transportation.  Fines charged by airlines cannot be higher than the value of air transport services, even if the ticket is on sale.

Refund

Refund deadline is 7 days, counted from the request made by the passenger. The airline must observe the means of payment used by the passenger to purchase the air ticket. In cases of payments made by credit card, the airline has up to 7 days to send the credit to the card operator. If the ticket was bought in a travel agency, the deadline may be subject to change.

If the passenger agrees, the refund may be provided in credits for the issuance of a new air ticket. In this case, the airline must formally inform in a written message the amount of credits and their expiration date. Passengers can use credits freely, purchasing new tickets for themselves or for third parties.

Refund costs are calculated considering the value of transport services and they will vary according to the rules of the contract of transportation.  Fines charged by airlines cannot be higher than the value of air transport services, even if the ticket is on sale.

Airport taxes and governmental fees must always be refunded to the passenger who has not traveled. The refund of optional services occur according to the contract.

Keeping the ticket for the return flight in case of no show for the first flight

In cases of round domestic flights, if the passenger does not embark in the first flight, he/she can keep the return flight ticket. The passenger must notify the airline until the time of departure of the first flight, using any means of communication. In this situation, the airline must maintain the return flight without additional costs to the passenger.

Change of flight by the airline

Any flight  change made by the airline, in particular with regard to  flight schedule and itinerary (such as change of a direct flight to a stopover or connecting flight), must be informed to the passenger up to 72 hours before the original flight time.

The airline may change the time of the flight in up to 30 minutes for domestic flights and 1 hour for international flights as long as the change is notified at least 72 hours before the original flight date considering the original time of departure. If advised in advance, these changes do not generate any obligation to the airline.

If the passenger does not receive any information or if the change is of more than 30 minutes for national flights and 1 hour for international flights, the airline must offer a new flight option or full reimbursement.

If the passenger is not advised about flight changes and arrives at the airport for the trip, the airline must provide alternative transportation services and material assistance, when applicable, besides rebooking and full reimbursement options.