With flights delaying and cancelling everywhere, travelers are owed money from carriers who fail to deliver passengers within a specific window. Here’s what you’re owed.
Flight Cancellations Everywhere
It’s been a rough summer to fly and it’s not getting better. Flight cancellations abound not just in the US but also in Europe as travelers take back to the sky. This has been called the worst summer travel season ever due to pent-up demand, extemporaneous restriction changes with regard to COVID rules, and limited flight crews.
EU Flight Cancellation/Delay Compensation
There is a limited bright spot for travelers through Europe. At least if they aren’t going to get where they are going, they can be compensated for their trouble.
Flights from/to/or through the European Union are subject to EU 261 2004, a rule including non-EU carriers such as American Airlines, JetBlue, or in a below example, Canada’s Air Transat. Compensation for flight cancellation and/or delay is based on the distance of the flight as well as the length of the delay or cancellation.
Here’s what the rule says:
“1. This Regulation establishes, under the conditions specified herein, minimum rights for passengers when:
(a) they are denied boarding against their will;
(b) their flight is cancelled;
(c) their flight is delayed.” – EUR Lex
Flights eligible are classified into three Flight Types: 1,500 km within the EU, within the EU of more than 1,500 km but less than 3,500 km, and lastly, flights outside the EU of more than 3,500 km. Compensation rules and rates for these flight cancellations are as follows:
“€250, in the case of a type 1 flight;
€400, in the case of a type 2 flight;
€600, in the case of a type 3 flight.
Delays work a little differently, this is based on the total time to get you to your destination within/from/or to the EU. For example, if you arrive two hours late there is a delay compensation for that, lower than if you arrive four hours late. But if you were to connect in Dublin and arrive two hours late forcing you to misconnect and arrive in Paris (for example) four hours late, you would be compensated the maximum amount for the delay.
When traveling on eligible flights, EU Flight Delay compensation works off of the same chart in the case of delays reaching, two, three, or four hours. Wikipedia’s guide is tremendously thorough but can be a little tough to follow.
Other protections are in place as well, such as meal vouchers, hotel accommodations, and in the event that you are downgraded, some portion of your ticket is due back, in one lump sum in cash (not vouchers or miles.) It’s worth noting that since Brexit, these rules no longer apply to the UK and its territories.
Of note, if an airline cancels your flight and rebooks you for the next day, compensation is due for the original flight cancellation, and if they delay or cancel again, that’s a separate matter and is also eligible but pertains to that flight’s specific arrival and departure, not your overall delay.
Easiest Way To File
Affected passengers can always file with the airline. Each carrier has a process for requesting this amount directly from them and a process to go through. That process can vary from carrier to carrier and so long as it is compliant under the law, it applies even if the process is easier on some airlines and more arduous on others.
When I travel to Europe and I am in this situation, I use AirHelp.com. AirHelp isn’t a paid sponsor for this site, I just like the service. They keep 25% of the claim (which is a hefty premium) but from my perspective, it’s hassle-free money. Travelers go through the process once with AirHelp and they do the rest, a check comes in the mail in the next few weeks.
I followed through with AirTransat on my own some time ago as I had a flight subject to this EU rule even though its departure was from Toronto but the process was long and difficult, even though I was able to successfully complete it on my own.
With so many travelers finding themselves in tough travel positions this weekend, and more broadly, all summer, it is important to know your rights and what you’re owed. If your flight has been cancelled or delayed, make sure you get every penny of what you’re owed. I would also implore the US Congress to consider some sort of protection for US travelers and visitors as well. Airlines have little risk of cancelling flights and face no penalties for delays other than their own business costs. It’s time the US joins the EU in this regard.
What do you think? Have you claimed EU 261/2004 damages?