Q My wife was stuck in Amsterdam on a very late transatlantic flight on a US airline. The delay was due to maintenance issues. Can she claim anything from the airline under any EU rules? Luke F A If the flight arrived in the US three hours or more behind schedule, the answer is yes. European air passengers’ rights rules, known as EC261, apply to flights from all EU airports whatever the nationality of the airline. They stipulate cash payments for long delays, unless the carrier can claim “extraordinary circumstances”. The European Court of Justice has ruled that mechanical problems are part of the normal day-to-day business of running an airline and therefore do not count as extraordinary. The amount of compensation depends on the exact length of the delay: for three hours but less than four hours, it is €300; for four hours or more, it is €600. Agreed, that does look pretty arbitrary: a four-hour delay is judged to be twice as annoying as a three-hour … [Read more...] about Travel question: Do US airlines have to pay compensation under EU rules?
Q My passport runs out towards the end of August next year. We normally go on holiday in May. Do you recommend that I should renew my passport before Brexit at the end of March 2019, or leave it until after we have been on holiday in May? Cheryl N A Three months ago, the answer would have been easy: renew now and benefit from up to nine months of unexpired time on your current passport. If your passport expired on 6 September 2019, you would formerly have been able to renew it on 6 December 2018 and get a new travel document valid until 6 September 2029. But this new passport would have a validity of 10 years, nine months. That is fine for as long as the UK is in the European Union. But once the country leaves the EU, British travellers will become citizens of a “third country” – which means they face tougher entry rules. In particular, travel documents cannot be valid for more than 10 years (or less than three months). This is one of the many unforeseen consequences … [Read more...] about Travel Question: When should I renew my passport?
Q My wife and I are booked on a European TUI fly-cruise in early April for our 40th wedding anniversary. I have tried asking TUI a simple question: in the very unlikely event we are stopped from travelling after Brexit, will I be refunded? Local sales staff are simply unable or unwilling to tell me! We have annual travel insurance with LV but I do not want to find TUI and LV both direct me to each other if it all goes wrong. So what is the answer? Simon W A It amazes me that staff working for the UK’s biggest holiday company, TUI, have not been briefed about the straightforward answer to your very reasonable question. They should be able to tell you in an instant. But if the firm is having problems doing so, let me help: in the event that the holiday cannot proceed, you would be entitled to a full refund from TUI under the package travel regulations (ironically, perhaps, an EU-imposed law). It is not an insurance issue. However, as you surmise, it looks highly unlikely that … [Read more...] about Travel Question: Will I still be able to go on holiday after Brexit?
Q Given the absolute chaos surrounding Brexit, is it safe to book a holiday to mainland Spain in October 2019? Nina W A With barely four months before Brexit day, 29 March 2019, we don’t know what awaits British travellers to the European Union after the UK leaves the EU. Travel will be certainly be trickier, but how much worse is unclear. We know a few things: UK nationals will need at least three months remaining on their passports (at present British passports are valid in Europe until expiry day), and will not be entitled to use the fast-track lanes at border crossings/airports. The EHIC scheme for reciprocal healthcare will end, though the UK government has kind-of promised a continuation of some sort. The law banning mobile-phone firms from charging extra for calls and data in Europe will cease, though operators have yet to set out what will replace it. And it looks like motorists will need to obtain an international driving permit or two (different EU countries are signed … [Read more...] about Travel Question: Will Brexit affect holidays in Spain?
Q Any idea why Eurostar is apparently exempt from Advance Passenger Information? You don’t need to use information from your passport (or national ID card) to book, as you do on airlines and Eurotunnel. Name supplied A Let’s start with what Advance Passenger Information (API) actually is, and what it isn’t. Before you travel abroad, your destination country typically wants to know your full name, gender, date of birth and nationality, and also the number, issuer and expiry date of your passport or identity card. The idea is that the authorities have time to check your details against “watch lists” and decide if they want to investigate you further on arrival. In the case of departing the UK, from which there is no routine outbound passport control, API also allows the Home Office to know when people leave Britain. API is not primarily to do with security during the journey (for example, to detect potential hijackers), though some countries, … [Read more...] about Travel Question: Why is Eurostar exempt from API?