Cancelled Flights and French Air Traffic Control Strikes : Your Rights

It looks like there could be some disruption to flights in and out of France over the next few weeks because of industrial action by French Air Traffic Control  (ATC) and also some airline staff. (Air France)
Flights from other countries that use French airspace could also be affected. There were several delayed and cancelled flights between France and Ireland earlier this week. The next planned strike is the weekeds of June 3rd to June 5th – so what are your rights regarding Cancelled Flights and French Air Traffic Control Strikes?

The good news is that at least 50% of ATC staff have to be in work during strikes – so it won’t mean a complete stoppage of all flights in and out of France.  It will mean some cancellations and many more delayed flights.

Flights Delayed by more than 2 hours because of Strike Action – Your Rights

There is a financial compensation scheme in the EU for delayed and cancelled flights – but in the event of a strike (an extraordinary event) – that scheme doesn’t  apply. BUT – all delayed passengers are entitled to free meals and refreshments once the delay goes over a certain time. If the airline is unable to provide meals and refreshments  free of charge, the airline should reimburse passengers for expenses incurred. (Keep receipts)

To qualify for assistance  – the delay must be  a) two hours or more in the case of flights of 1500km or less;
b) three hours or more in the case of all internal EU over 1500km, and of all other flights between 1500 and 3500km;
(c) four hours or more in the case of all other flights.

(Dublin to Nice is just under 1500km )

Cancellation of Flights because of Strikes  – Your Rights

If , after arriving at the airport , your flight is cancelled . your  rights regarding assistance and transport to your destination are the same whatever the reason for cancellation. Even if the cancellation was caused by  “extraordinary circumstances”  such as a strike –  passengers are still entitled to certain rights under EU rules.

The airline must offer you either  a) A full refund of the ticket for the part or parts of the journey not made.
Or b) An alternative flight at the earliest opportunity or by comparable transport to the final destination.

An airline may offer a flight to an alternative airport to that originally booked – but they are then obliged to bear the cost of transferring the passenger to the airport to that which the booking was made or to another close-by destination agreed with the passenger

If you accept a seat on another flight you must also be given  “care and assistance” free of charge while waiting for the flight– specifically, meals and refreshments in reasonable relation to the waiting time, hotel accommodation in cases where an overnight stay becomes necessary, transport between the airport and place of accommodation and two telephone calls, emails or  faxes .
Some airlines might actually arrange and pay directly for food, hotels and transfers – but most will expect you to keep reciepts and make a claim for reimbursment later.

If you accept a full refund for the cost of the cancelled flight  – the airline has no further responsibility regarding food or accommodation.

Other Financial Compensation
Airlines are not obliged to make any further compensation when a flight is cancelled or delayed because of industrial action
All these rule come from  Regulation (EC) 261/2004 of the European Parliament

Note:  These EU regulations only apply to flights that depart from an EU airport, regardless of the airline OR where an EU airline lands at an EU airport

Useful Contact:  The Irish Commission for Aviation Regulation : Tel : 1890 787 787 or +353 1 6611700 from 0900 to 1700 

 

Travel Insurance Price Comparison

It’s getting close to summer holiday time again – and one thing people usually neglect to buy is travel insurance. 
Some medical cover within Europe will be provided by having a European Health Insurance Card  (EHIC) – but this on it’s own will not cover all medical costs in all situations.  Travel insurance typically covers at least €3 million of medical costs. More about the EHIC here

We have done a quick  price comparison of  travel insurance in Ireland.  It is well worth shopping around to save  money and to make sure you get adequate cover.
Tip:  Remember to buy your travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday – that way you are covered straight away if you have to cancel because of illness .

We obtained some online quotes for travel insurance for  a  single 2 week  trip to the USA for a family group  of 4 (2 adults and 2 children under 17) travelling in July 2016. The family did not have private health insurance.

The insurance quotes we obtained all included cover  for cancellation, missed departure, baggage loss, personal belongings as well as medical cover. The differences in price were substantial.

AA came out as the cheapest price at just €77.99

AA Essential Cover €77.99

AA Extra Cover €97.99

Getcover.ie €150.48

123.ie €217.56

One thing we did discover – is that the level of insurance cover varies drastically between the various policies. So our advice is be sure before you buy a travel insurance policy that you check what the policy covers you for . Don’t just buy the cheapest option and assume it will be OK  – because you may not have the cover you thought you had.

For example –  if we had selected the  €190.35  Silver option  with 123.ie  – they  would not pay out anything at all for  loss of baggage . Baggage loss is probably one of the more likely things to happen.

The AA Essential Travel policy ( €77.99) was the lowest price and  included cover of up to €3500 for cancellation or curtailment, €2000 for lost baggage, €800 for missed departure , €5 million Medical expenses.

AA Extra Policy – would cost €97.99 – and this extra €20 cost  would get cover of up to €6000 for cancellation , €3000 for lost baggage or belongings , €1000 for missed departure and  €10 million medical expenses.

Getcover insurance (€150.48)  includes  up to  €3000 for cancellation , €2500 for baggage,  €10 million Medical expenses.

123.ie policy  cover  (€217.56) includes  up to €7000 for cancellation or abandonment , €3000 for lost baggage, €1000 for missed departure , €10 million Medical expenses.

(All these amounts are per person – so unless this family of four was planning a trip costing more than €24000 – the best option would be one of the AA policies.)

All prices were quoted  online by the providers websites on May 25th 2016

Tip – Don’t forget to declare any existing conditions when buying travel insurance. The insurance company won’t payout if you make a claim because of a condition you already had before you bought travel insurance.

If you are planning on buying US Dollars before you travel – have a look at our page on the best place to buy US Dollars in Ireland

 

European Health Insurance Card – EHIC

If you are planning on travelling within Europe for a holiday this summer – it’s still not too late to get your EHIC  or European Health Insurance Card .

The EHIC is a FREE card available to all residents of Ireland which entitles them to get free or reduced price public  healthcare if needed whilst travelling in Europe.

An EHIC card allows you access to health care services when travelling to other EU or EEA countries. It doesn’t cover all medical costs in all countries –  it won’t cover private medical costs or the cost of repatriation back to Ireland. For extra cover and peace of mind you should also have travel insurance.  See our latest Travel Insurance Comparison here

The  EHIC card basically gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 28 EU countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country.

Note:  Irish residents  don’t need a European Health Insurance Card,to get necessary healthcare while on a temporary visit to the UK. It is enough to show proof that you are ordinarily resident in Ireland –  such as a driving licence, passport or similar document. You may need your PPS number.

You can apply here to the HSE for an EHIC card .  Online applications are only available for medical card holders or people on the drug payment scheme. All others have to apply by post . (Details also here)  There is no charge : beware of some websites trying to look like the official HSE EHIC  appliaction site. They will try to charge you as much as €40 just to  redirect you to the HSE site or to send you a form.
It normally takes 10 days or less to recieve your EHIC card.

It is advisable to also take out travel insurance  even if you have an EHIC.

The EHIC  doesn’t cover 100% of medical costs in all countries (see examples below). It doesn’t cover medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment or treatment of a non-urgent nature. Also, some private hospitals may not accept the EHIC .

Some Examples of EHIC Cover

France :

Visitors must first pay for treatment and then apply for a refund of part of the costs . Around 70% of standard doctors’ and dentists’ fees are refunded, and between 35% and 65% of the cost of most, but not all, prescribed medicines.

Hospital treatment
For in-patient treatment an EHIC will entitle you to  get  75% of the cost paid direct to the hospital. You pay the balance. You must also pay a fixed daily hospital charge (forfait journalier).

Spain
GP – Treatment under the European Health Insurance Card is only provided by practitioners within the Spanish Health Service.  If you need to call out a doctor in an emergency, make it clear that you have a European Health Insurance Card and that you will want to be treated under EU arrangements.

Dental treatment  costs will not be reimbursed.

Medicines prescribed –  You will have to pay up to 40% of the cost unless you are a pensioner, in which case the medicines will be free of charge.

Hospital treatment
If you require urgent treatment, it will only be provided free of charge in a public ward at a public hospital if you have an EHIC .

Portugal – Basic hospital treatment is free with an EHIC but you will have to pay for secondary examinations, such as X-rays, and laboratory tests.

Tourists visiting Ireland with an EHIC will be entitled to 100% free GP services, A&E services and  Hospital inpatient treatment

 

Euro Sterling Exchange Rate Update

Euro Sterling Exchange Rate Update : May 24th  2016

1 GBP = 1.315395 EUR                    1 EUR = 0.760228 GBP

The pound continued  its recent rise against the Euro this week , rising to levels not seen since the first week of February this year.

Sterling has performed well this week after a recent poll showed that it is looking more likely that the UK will vote to stay within the EU . The pound was further boosted yesterday after the publication of much better than expected retail sales figures.

The recent strengthening of sterling represents an excellent opportunity for those looking to buy  euros.

In March  , analysts at Goldman Sachs warned that Sterling could fall by up to 20% against the Euro if Britain votes to leave the EU.
The Euro to Sterling exchange rate is bound to be volatile during the run up to the June referendum  – with the results of polls likely to result in falls or rises in the exchange rates.

Back in January 2007 Sterling was at a high of nearly €1.54: by January 2009 it weakened near to parity with the euro, with a pound worth just €1.02.

With so much  uncertainty in the currency markets at the moment –  it could get very stressful for people or businesses planning large Euro / Sterling exchanges in the next few months.  Using a Currency Broker can remove some of the uncertainty by allowing you to fix an exchange rate as much as 12 months in advance of your transfer.  For good deals on large amounts of currency exchange –  for personal money or  for businesses – see our page on how to get the Best Exchange Rates

You might also be interested in this information about Transferring  Money from Ireland to a UK Bank

 

If you are just looking to buy some Pounds or Dollars for a holiday  – take a look at our page about the best place to exchange currency in Ireland