Coronavirus: Information for air passengers

Date 2020.03.20

Due to the accelerated spread of the coronavirus and the resulting increased security measures and official directives in various countries and regions, there may currently be considerable restrictions on air traffic.

We therefore recommend that passengers check the current status of their booked flight and the currently valid entry regulations of their country of travel or transit country before starting their journey. Due to the current situation, changes may occur at short notice.

Many countries have determined measures on entry, e.g. body temperature control or medical examinations, border closures, quarantine or entry bans for persons who have stayed in an affected country before entry. General information on the current situation can be found on the websites of the Federal Foreign Office

and the Robert Koch Institute

among others.

Passengers concerned who decide on their own initiative, on the basis of the current situation, not to take their booked flight or to travel at a later date should get in touch with the relevant air carrier or tour operator directly and catch up on the options available. Based on our opinion of the applicable law such situations are not covered by Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 and the possibilities for reimbursement depend on the general terms and conditions of the air carrier and the type or fare of the ticket booked. Due to the current situation, many air carriers and tour operators also offer their customers goodwill arrangements for free rebooking or cancellation of flights already booked. Please note that the LBA is not in charge for cases in which passengers cancel their booked flights on their own initiative.

When air carriers cancel flights departing from an airport situated in the European Union, passengers concerned are entitled to assistance and care in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. This also applies to cancellations of flights departing from a third country to an airport situated in the European Union and operated by an European air carrier.

Passengers concerned have the choice between a full refund (reimbursement) of the ticket costs or a re-routing to their final destination. Re-routing shall be offered at the earliest opportunity or at a later date at the passenger's convenience. The current circumstances in connection with the worldwide spread of the coronavirus can have a significant impact on the possibilities to offer re-routing for affected passengers. The re-routing may be considerably delayed or concrete information on the time of the re-routing may not be made available immediately, due to the considerable disruptions in international air traffic.

Air carriers are also obliged to provide assistance to passengers concerned in a reasonable proportion to the waiting time. This may include hotel accommodation if necessary. The assistance services are not applicable in cases where passengers have agreed to full reimbursement of the ticket costs. The same applies if passengers decide upon their own request to take an alternative flight at a later date.

Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 also provides, under certain conditions, for the payment of a distance-related compensation. This does not apply if the operating air carrier informs passengers concerned about the cancellation more than 14 days before the scheduled time of departure. There is also no right to compensation if the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided.

In this regard the European Commission has published Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19, which also contain information on the impact of current events on potential claims for compensation. The information can be accessed via the following link:

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