According to DECO (Portuguese Association for Consumer Protection) consumers who have flights booked in the coming weeks are worried and anxious. To help calm fears, DECO explains everything you need to know in terms of passenger rights before getting on that plane, so that everything goes smoothly and you have a good trip!

Airplane Travel

Q: “I'm going to buy a ticket. What advice does DECO have?”

A: Start by looking for prices in a search aggregator, but also visit the airline's own website.

Plan your trip and see what these aggregators have to offer.

Try browsing anonymously. That way, cookies are reset whenever you open or reopen a window.

Pay special attention to the fees that are charged during the various stages of the purchase process, to make sure you are only getting the services you want and at the price you want.

DECO tip! Having flexibility with your dates is one of the simplest ways to buy cheap flights. However, you should always check if there are any strikes scheduled for those days.

Flights with stopovers sometimes get cheaper, but the risk of having your baggage lost, delayed or damaged increases.

Q: How can I anticipate a possible flight cancellations?

A: Check the flight schedule the day before boarding, due to different circumstances, the flight may change. This way, you can better plan your day to ensure you arrive at the airport on time.

Also pay particular attention to the news and check the website of the airline and the airport to make sure they are working properly.

Q: I have arrived at the airport. What now?

A: The airport is a large space, with many passengers and thousands of employees, so it is easy to get lost. Therefore you should always comply with the advance notice indicated by the airline and by the airport so that you do not miss your flight.

You'll need some time to check in, check your bags, get through security and eventually the Border Control Service, and finally find the right gate - and still have time if something unforeseen happens.

DECO tip! Do not forget that if you are travelling in a large group, with small children, or with people with reduced mobility, you should arrive even earlier.

If you take your pet with you, passenger check-in can take longer, so DECO suggests that you ask the airline how far in advance you need to be at the airport and what procedures you need to follow.

Has your flight been cancelled?

In case of flight cancellation, passengers have the choice between:

Refund within seven days;

Re-routing, under equivalent transport conditions, to the final destination at the earliest opportunity; or

- Re-routing, under equivalent transport conditions, to the final destination at a later date at the passenger's convenience, subject to seat availability.

You are also entitled to assistance, which includes:

– Meals and drinks in reasonable quantity for the waiting time;

– Hotel accommodation, if a stay or additional stay becomes necessary;

– Transport between the airport and place of accommodation;

– Two phone calls or emails.

In case of flight cancellation, passengers are entitled to receive compensation between €250 and €600, unless passengers:

· Have been informed of the cancellation at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure, or

· Have been informed of the cancellation between two weeks and seven days before the scheduled time of departure and they have been offered re-routing, allowing them to depart no later than two hours before the scheduled time of departure and arrive at their final destination no later than four hours after the scheduled time of departure arrival, or

· They have been informed of the cancellation less than seven days before the scheduled time of departure and they have been offered re-routing that would allow them to depart no later than one hour before the scheduled time of departure and arrive at their final destination no later than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival.

· Bear in mind that the airline doesn’t have to pay compensation if it can prove that the cancellation was due to extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all possible measures had been taken

Q: My flight was cancelled. Do I have to accept a travel voucher?

A: Alternative solutions such as travel vouchers or other services depend on the consumer's agreement. The passenger is entitled to a refund within seven days, so the company should not impose a voucher.

Q: My flight was cancelled and I received a message to reschedule the flight for the next few days. Do I have to accept?

A: No, passengers should be given the choice between reimbursement or re-routing, if they lose interest in the trip, they can demand reimbursement.

Q: My flight was cancelled and the alternative flight does not leave until the next day; however, I received no directions, no meals or accommodation. What should I do?
A: You should contact the airline. Passengers should not be responsible for finding and paying for accommodation. If assistance is not provided, even after contact, passengers who had to pay for meals/drinks, accommodation and transport between the airport and place of accommodation can get their money back from the airline. Keep in mind that proof of these expenses will be required, so please keep them.

Denied boarding

When it has reasonable grounds to expect that it will refuse boarding for a flight, the airline must, in the first place, appeal to volunteers who agree to give up their reservations in exchange for benefits, under conditions to be agreed between the passenger and the airline. The company must also offer the possibility of choosing between reimbursement of the ticket or re-routing to the final destination.

If passengers are denied boarding against their will, the operating airline must compensate and assist them in similar terms as in the case of cancellation. The passenger must also be offered the possibility of choosing between reimbursement or re-routing.

Q: The airline did not allow me to board, claiming that I did not have the necessary documentation with me.

A: The rights under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or delay of flights do not cover situations where there are reasonable grounds for denying passengers departure, such as security reasons or lack of documentation.

Loss or damage to luggage

If your bags are lost, damaged or delayed, compensation can currently be limited to around €1,600 unless there is a special declaration of interest in delivery and payment of any additional amount.

If higher values ​​are transported, higher compensation may be applied. However, consumers must file a claim with the airline straight away or no later than seven days after.

If it is a delay, the claim must be submitted no later than 21 days from the date on which the baggage was given to the consumer.

Q: With the delay in the delivery of my luggage I had to buy some essential goods at the destination, can I present these expenses to the airline?

A: Yes, but don’t forget to provide proof/receipts for these expenses.

Do you feel that your rights are not being respected? Please, get in touch with DECO on, 21 371 02 00, or WhatsApp +351 966 449 110.


Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252

Paula Martins