I’m going to explain several ways to proceed against tourist companies, such as travel agencies, tour operators, or even airline companies such as British Airways or Iberia, in case you consider the service you had was unfair, insufficient and ungrateful from these companies.

Firstly, I would like to explain a bit about the regulation under the Spanish Legal system regarding this matter. The regulation about this is quite scattered among some Acts and other kinds of legislation. The main Acts are the Spanish 1978 Constitution, Article 148.1.Parragraph. 18th; the 21/1995 Act, enacted on the 6th of July, which rules the planned and combined trips, and the Customers and Users 1998 Act; also some articles (from Article 1.089 and on) of the well known Spanish 1889 Civil Code, which I have mentioned many times weeks ago regarding other matters.

For example, I guess that many of you who are British, Irish or even Australian or American, may have once experienced a delay in your trip to Spain, which in some cases would have lasted 24 hours or more, losing a day of your holidays and possibly a pre paid day for hiring a car in your destination, then some questions arise, like what rights do I have? What could I do about this? Who and how do I make the corresponding claim?

If this is your case, you are entitled to get a compensation for the lost day of your holidays due to an unjustified flight delay. The amount for this compensation is not established by Law, and the Air Navigation Act only states that airline companies won’t have to pay any damages if the delay is caused by bad weather reasons, such as fog, snow or hurricane. If your flight is delayed for any other unjustified reasons, then you can claim damages to the company.

Once you have all the documents regarding the flight or the hired car, etc… ready, just bring them to Court with the assistance of your lawyer. As every case is different to the others, the Judge will issue the estimated amount the company has to pay you for damages. For example, last 23rd of April, 1999, a Resolution from Madrid’s number 13 First Instance Court issued that Iberia had to pay 313 Euros to the claimant as compensation for damages after making the customer lose one day of his holidays. On the other hand, Supreme Court in Madrid issued another Resolution on the 31st of May 2000, stating that the Airline Company should pay this time 1.503€ to the claimant for “only” ten hours delay on the flight. And lastly, once again another Resolution from other First Instance Court from Madrid issued a Resolution according to which Iberia should pay 1.500€ to the claimant for a similar case. An important matter to remind you is that for being paid the damages an official complaint must be submitted to the Airline company prior to sue them in Court. In case your luggage has been lost temporarily or has suffered damages of any kind, remember that complaint forms must be brought within 10 days for national and international flights in the first case and within 7 days if you wish to claim for damages. If there is a delay on luggage delivery you can make the complaint within 21 days.

Now is turn for “overbooking”. Overbooking occurs when Airline companies sell more flight tickets than existing passenger places are on the aircraft, so some passengers must stay at the Airport if they are not quick enough that day. What rights do you have then?

1.- The reimbursement of the ticket total price.

2.- The right to be brought or taken to the destination on the fastest way or other day chosen by the passenger.

3.- A compensation consisting of:

A.- 150€ for 3.500km flights as maximum.

B.- 300€ for more than 3.500€ flights.

4.- Besides, the Airline company should pay a telephone call or a fax to the destination to let them know your delay, buy some food and drinks for you as long as you need it whilst you are waiting, pay for a hotel room as long as you are waiting for the flight, or bring you to another Airport if necessary.

Another question you might have is, how much I am paid if the company lose my suitcase or bag? The company will have to pay you a maximum of 325€ per bag or suitcase approximately.

Lastly I’ll explain how the Obliged Traveller Insurance works here. This insurance covers all passengers compensations or medical treatment or assistance caused by an accident during the trip, or by a breakdown which affects seriously the airplane or the coach, or any kind of transport. All passengers that are in the transport meanwhile the accident takes place are covered by the insurance, but you must have the ticket or invoice with you, otherwise you may get not paid unless a witness makes a statement in your favour in case you got to go to Court. If you suffer any harm or injury during a trip by bus, train or coach, after this, go straight to see a doctor who must make a medical report on your name stating what kind of harm you had and its gravity. If you don’t need to stay in hospital, neither need a special treatment in an ambulance, the warranty will expire within 72 hours after the accident took place. If some other insurance had already been contracted by the passenger this coverage will last 10 days, and for the rest of cases the limit would be in 90 days after the accident.