Britain is still slated to leave the European Economic Region (Brexit) and that could have a big effect on travelers like me, who may want to move their flights away from Britain to maintain EU 261/2004 protection.
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Flight Delay Compensation EU 261/2004
European Union and European Economic Area member states adhere to regulation EU261/2004 which outlines compensation rules for delayed and canceled flights. Once a flight is delayed in arriving (not departing) by three hours, compensation becomes substantial, it improves again at four hours. In order to be eligible, the flight has to depart the EU/EEA (any airline) or arrive into the EU/EEA (just European airlines) late due to delays other than weather. This applies to any flight, revenue or points redemption. Compensation of 180-239 minutes for trans-Atlantic flights is €400-600 depending on how long the delay and how far the flight. Full details can be found here. Compensation is paid in cash or on a pre-paid card, not an airline voucher.
The regulation is one of few like it in the world that protects the rights of the traveler and is a model for how regulations regarding travel are executed. Once Britain leaves the accord, the protection will go with it.
How It Has Affected My Family?
On three occasions, my family has benefitted from late arriving flights. Once, on a late flight from Chicago, I received the pre-paid card from British Airways before departing O’Hare after being given a free upgrade due to status with American Airlines. On another occasion, a flight into Dublin arrived more than three hours late forcing us to miss a connection. It cost us a very long day at the airport waiting for another flight and forced friends of ours to waste a day going to and from the airport after a number of false starts and near departures.
Last year, we flew a very inexpensive fare to Manchester on Air Transat from Toronto. The return from Manchester experienced a litany of delays that started with mechanical trouble and extended to miscounting passengers as they re-boarded the aircraft. That delay required some follow up from Air Transat but resulted in a payment of more than $2100 for my family paid in check form in USD (despite flying a Canadian airline to and Manchester, England. That payment more than covered our entire trip including meals (we used points for our hotel).
What Will I Do Instead?
We have an upcoming trip into Manchester and it may be our last departing from the US. That doesn’t mean we won’t visit Manchester again, how would we get our Christmas Market fix? We just may not fly long haul in and out of Britain. Why? EU protection is important to us. We want our investment in our trip to be protected. We also want to arrive as close to on-time as possible and with no British equivalent in place, we are concerned about the impetus to try to run a tight ship.
Instead, we will connect in any of the other major European hubs. For inexpensive trips, we can go via Stockholm. For Star Alliance flights, TAP Portugal delivers affordable business class to the US from Lisbon. For oneworld flights we will connect in other American Airlines service cities but most likely Dublin or Madrid. This will also help us to avoid the expensive UK APD underscoring the lack of competitiveness by the UK for long-haul flights.
What about you? Will you change your flying patterns to avoid Britain post-Brexit? Do you think the UK will come up with their own? And though it is a whole other post, shouldn’t the US protect their travelers the same way the EU does?
The cost will finally charged in other people’s ticket sooner or later.
More regulation means more cost, do not see any benefit for all.
The EU regulation has been in place for nearly 15 years.
I fly to the UK about every 2 months. For about 6 months of the year I can fly from my local airport to DEN and thence to LHR direct on UA, otherwise it’s 3 flights, the last one from somewhere on the east coast or ORD. Using miles I can take LH from DEN to FRA and thence to LHR, and often do so. I don’t think anyone really knows what’s going to happen and in any case I’m not going out of my way to change my patterns unless it really does go sideways. I can’t conceive that the U.S. will ever protect it’s passengers in terms of delayed flight compensation the way the EU does. There would be an outcry from the airlines.
This just sounds like greed to me…..You have no idea even how this will play out with Great Britian and in reality this article doesn’t place you in the best light.
Although nothing is set in stone either way, I think it’s a good idea to start to think ahead and hedge bets. The airlines have shown time and again that they do not have your best interests in mind, hence the need for legislation like this. I don’t think Kyle is being selfish in looking after his own interest.
The current state of play as I understand it, is that the UK will essentially copy and paste all existing EU regulations into UK law. There maybe some tweaks here and there but I wouldn’t expect that for some time and as this is a long established piece of legislation that protects passengers it would be unlikely they’d abolish it. There would undoubtedly be a backlash from the public.
I wouldn’t sweat this one too much.
Completely agree with David. Most of EU Law will simply become UK statute and will still apply, there won’t be a lot that’s thrown in the bin!
Just wish media would stop adding to the fake news and scaremongering on this issue.
The Westminster parliament has passed the “Great Repeal Bill” which does as you as say, copy and paste all current EU law into the UK laws. The Problem is that it IS a straight copy and paste. This means when the EU261 law says that it is valid “if you are flying from an EU airport” or “if you are flying an EU airport” and after Brexit day in March 2019 the UK airlines and airports will not be EU ones, and hence not covered by EU261.
The “tweaks” you mention are in theory ridiculously easy to pass – just change EU to British – but this requires the change to be debated and passed in Westminister; but there is simply hundreds and thousands of EU regulations this that need parliamentary time to tweak and rectify.
It’s a bandwith issue – Westminster won’t have the time to deal with enough things quickly enough to sort out Brexit.
Aren’t most price-conscious travelers already avoiding the UK to skip the UK’s Air Passenger Duty that’s assessed to long-haul flights?
First, the title here is misleading. Is “move” the right verb? You aren’t moving anything. You are choosing to not fly U.K. airlines.
Second, the argument made here is also an argument not to fly US airlines transatlantic because the protections are weaker. I’ve never seen L&LF make that argument before, so why make it now under the Brexit pretext?
Not the best article
O&D to UK is one thing, can’t change that. However, transiting via London will change, become even less desireable. if i was AA/oneworld, i’d want to consider DUB, MAD as stronger connections. and Yes, the passengers’ loss of EU delays rights will be notable. i expect UK flights to trend closer to USA “you are on your own” rights, away from the EU standard some call generous. It is in part mitigated since the UK remained outside the Schcngen passport treaty. It surely should make Dublin (still IAB) a more appealing transit point, as well i suspect MAD via IB (still IAG), but too nearby AMS. CDG can be tough transit connections with sprawling terminals, same for FRA.
Well, I might avoid connecting through LHR immediately before and after next March 29, just because a hard Brexit is looking more likely and I would expect some period of snafus, but otherwise, I would not be making ticketing decisions on that basis. EU 261 compensation is nice, but I would not plan a flight based on its protections, and do fine with domestic flying in the US without it. My goal is to get where I am going, in longhaul, in business class, and what I care most about in IRROPs is good handling of alternatives, not a cash bonus – not that it is not nice, but that is now why I pick flights.
Though maybe if we suggest traveling to the UK will be awful after Brexit, BA will offer more discount J. yes, let’s go with that.
Pure greed. The only reason is you hope for a delay and fly an EU carrier purely as a means to take advantage. Many people do that with intentionally short connections. Ok the airlines offer them and guarantee etc however it’s clear they are only in it to make money
@Icarus – A few corrections to your comment. First, the airlines don’t offer the guarantees, they are mandated. In the US we have no such protection over our purchase by the government, if I buy a ticket and show up three hours late for my flight, I am not owed transportation by the airline. But if the airline has a correctable issue (crew scheduling for example) that causes a delay of three hours, the airline gets to shrug their shoulders – that’s not equitable. The US SHOULD have similar protection.
Second, some credit cards offer delay protection. Are customers taking advantage of the credit card companies by booking flights with this benefit? I don’t think they are.