If you are delayed overnight the airline is obliged to assist in
respect of your accommodation. What are the whys and whens?
We need to go back to what the regulation says and doesn't
say and what airlines do and say in reaction to the regulation.
Passengers shall be offered free of charge
(b) Hotel accommodation in cases
- Where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary,
- Where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger
(c) Transport between the airport and place of accommodation
(hotel or other).
Therefore airlines have to offer you hotel accommodation.
(Interestingly not hostel, bed and breakfast etc).
accommodation-It’s been a hard day’s
The regulation talks about nights accommodation. There
could be an interesting debate as to what constitutes a "night".
We suppose that even airline can't turn night into day.
But what is the definition of a night especially if you
are travelling to Reykjavik or Anchorage in the summer!
Does night equate with darkness or with a given time of
When a stay becomes necessary
It says that when a stay becomes necessary but does not
refer to this being an objective or subjective test of
whether a hotel stay becomes necessary for the individual
By this we mean that you could be delayed where you have
readily accessible accommodation anyway. You could live
close by the airport of departure either this being your
own residence or holiday home.
Interestingly EU 261/2004 also talks about transport costs
between the airport and the "hotel or other" accommodation.
What does EU 261/2004 anticipate and mean by "other" accommodation
in these circumstances?
Is the regulation anticipating a passenger going to their
own supplied accommodation? If not, which accommodation
and whose accommodation is anticipated?
Here there are a large number of possible permutations
and there is the possibility that an airline could be flexible
and minimise its own financial exposure.
Take for example the delay of an outbound flight from a
regional airport in the UK.
It is quite possible that a fair proportion of the passengers
could return home to their own homes and stay overnight.
These delayed passengers could then return to the Airport
and report to the airline at a given time the next morning.
Equally the passengers could say that the regulation simply
states that the airline will lodge the passengers.
Hotel Chez Nous
How does an airline know that a particular passenger has
their own home or accommodation nearby and would prefer
to stay within their own home rather than in the nearest
Could the passenger say "no I want to be placed
in a hotel at your expense-my car is in the long term
park and I have been drinking and can't drive, etc."
I could go back to my own house but you, the Airline,
is obligated to compensate me with what you would have
for the hotel in any event.
Hotel 53 Acacia Avenue
Equally, if you are staying with friends or relatives could
you not ask them to become the "Hotel 53 Acacia Avenue" for
that night and charge you for Hotel accommodation for
the night? (Your friends could conveniently charge you
less than the airport would charge for a night)
Much more likely is the situation that an airline will
bus passengers en masse to local hotels if these are available.
Boarding won't be long now (But they said that 10 Hours
How often do Airlines maintain the position that a flight
will be "boarding soon" and that this creeping
delay extends overnight?
Because passengers don’t know what is going on
behind the scenes it may be difficult for an individual
to discover whether this is a genuine belief on the part
of an airline at any particular point in time or a cynical
attempt by an airline to avoid the commercial cost of
meeting its obligations under EU 261/2004.
Often a flight is departing from a distant and remote point.
Say for example a flight from Cancun to London experiences
a technical problem in Cancun and it soon becomes clear
that the outstation in Cancun does not have the available
expertise or components to repair the aircraft. It might
even require the provision of a replacement aircraft to
be sent from the UK.
In that event it may need upwards of 10 hours to fly a
replacement aircraft from the UK to Mexico to deliver a
replacement aircraft or necessary manpower /components.
If this coincides with evening it would appear obvious
at that stage that passengers should be lodged at hotel
Does this always happen and if so why not?
In many cases flights may be charter flights involving
all-inclusive holidays where there will in any event be
a ready supply of vacant hotel beds. (The new holiday-makers
are after all stranded in the UK because the aircraft has
not yet left Cancun.
How could an Airline attempt to avoid providing Hotel accommodation?
Flightmole can try to anticipate methods by which airlines
would try to avoid altogether their "obligation" to
provide overnight accommodation. We welcome input to
this exercise from Flightmole.com users.
This leads us back to the fundamental difference in the
nature of a delay and a flight cancellation in the Regulation.
Remember that EU 261/.2004 gives an airline a possible
defence (an excuse) for providing compensation in the event
of a cancellation of a flight. This defence does not apply
in the event of a delay.
The defence excuses the obligation of the airline to pay
compensation (the monetary tariff). It does not remove
the obligation to provide assistance-which includes the
obligation to provide Hotel accommodation
An airline could rather delay a flight seek to cancel a
flight. If they do this they may avoid liability to pay
monetary compensation based upon the length of the journey.
However at some point an extended delay should amount,
de facto, to a cancellation.
An Airline can do nothing, or as little as possible.
One possible reaction is for an Airline to do nothing or
as little as possible.
This might be a very sensible means of attempting to minimize
an airline's potential financial exposure.
If the passengers start bedding themselves down on the
floor or the few available benches why would an Airline
wish to disturb this latent sleeping monster.
Secondly the airline could state that they are expecting
the departure "imminently" and, if the passengers
decamp to a hotel, this would only delay the flight departure
further-miss the take-off slot, crew available duty hours
and all sorts of other aviation horror stories.
EU 261/2004 does provide an excuse to an airline to provide
assistance to delayed passengers if the act of providing
assistance might extend duration of the delay.
Yet perhaps sometimes" imminently" isn't in
reality so imminent
There must exist the temptation on the part of an airline's
staff-to keep promising that the flight will be departing
soon-and therefore obviate the need to provide accommodation.
The airline could and probably does know this information
yet once the passengers have spent the night on he floor
the passengers can't retrospectively claim for hotel
rooms they haven’t occupied.
Therefore to assess the veracity of an airline we need
to judge their past statements and performance and relate
this to the circumstances existing at the time of the delay.
A clear question has to be asked of the airline. When do
you reasonably expect this aircraft to depart and give
me the reasoning to support this time line?
The makings of the case have to be made in real time. Only
when passengers take these actions in real time can the
actions of the Airline be assessed.
Another possible reaction of the airline is to claim
that the delay is "beyond their control" and
deny a responsibility to provide accommodation. This
Possibly an airline will say that there is no available
accommodation-all the hotels are booked up. In some small
regional airports this might even have a semblance of truth
yet you may be in a position to disprove the accuracy of
Tell us you experience in this area so we can begin to
With the advent of web-based hotel finders the excuse
available hotel rooms" becomes easier to verify
and evidence the veracity of a claim that no airport
rooms are vacant.