Travel stress

Published Wednesday, 04 January 2012
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Alleviate some of your winter travel worries by knowing your rights.

Christmas and the New Year is one of the busiest times for the airlines industry as people fly home to be with their families or take advantage of the days off to get away from it all.

Yet, it is also the time of year when winter weather such as snow and ice can badly affect flights.

As part of the Consumer Council's 'Weather the Winter' campaign, we want to make sure your travel plans are less stressful by ensuring you know your rights if you are affected by delayed or cancelled flights.

Delayed flights

Under European Law if your flight is delayed by two hours or more you are entitled to free meals and refreshments, telephone calls or emails and overnight accommodation while you wait. The airline should make you aware of your rights but if not, ask at the check in desk or the airline help desk.

Cancelled flights

If your flight is cancelled you are entitled to the above assistance plus a choice between a full refund or an alternative flight. You may also be entitled to compensation if the reason for the cancellation is within the control of the airline. For more information on your rights please contact the Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 to request a copy of our Plane Facts guide to air travel or download it at

Air Travel Tips

Here are our top tips for a stress free holiday:

- If you arrange travel which involves connecting flights on separate tickets make sure to allow plenty of time between the flights. If your first flight is delayed or cancelled, neither the airline operating the first flight nor the airline operating the second flight are required to provide an alternative flight to get you to your end destination. However, if you book connecting flights on a single ticket and flight disruption causes you to miss a connection, your airline is responsible for rearranging your flight to your final destination.

- If you are travelling abroad you should purchase travel insurance that covers your specific needs.

- Before you book your flight, check the Consumer Council's online airline charges table which shows, at a glance, the additional charges you might have to pay, depending on the services you choose. This is available at

Luggage Tips

- When travelling always pack your passport, valuables and essential items in your hand luggage in case your flight is cancelled or delayed.

- Check your luggage adheres to the airline's size and weight restrictions - it can be costly to pay excess baggage charges at the airport.

- Label your bags inside and out with your name, home address and destination address.

Passengers with reduced mobility

- If you require assistance because of a disability or reduced mobility you should inform your airline at least 48 hours before you travel. It's usually best to do this at the time of booking.

- The Consumer Council encourages all passengers to get hold of a copy of 'Access to Air Travel'.

This is a handy guide explains the rights of passengers with a disability or reduced mobility and what assistance can be expected at the airport. You can contact us on 0800 121 6022 for your free copy, or you can download it from

If you have a complaint regarding any aspect of airline travel, contact the Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 or We have the power to investigate the complaint on your behalf.

Weather the Winter leaflet

The Consumer Council have put together a handy wallet seized leaflet providing key advice and telephone numbers to help consumers get through the Winter and Christmas period. For your free copy please visit or telephone 0800 121 6022 and we can post you a copy.

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Consumer Council
Consumer Council

The Consumer Council is an independent consumer organisation, working to bring about change to benefit Northern Ireland's consumers.

They aim to make consumer voices heard and make them count.

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