Getting United to Pay EU Compensation for a Flight Delay
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Getting United to Pay EU Compensation for a Flight Delay

 

TravelSort Reader Betsy writes "While traveling on a United Airlines flight from Barcelona to Texas, our flight was delayed overnight due to mechanical issues. It was delayed the next day for 6 hours due to mechanical issues as well causing an overnight delay in Newark. Needless to say, I was over 50 hours delayed. United is saying that i do not qualify for cash compensation because i am not a EU citizen. is this true?"

United's response is wrong, but unfortunately not surprising, since United and most other airlines often won't pay the compensation that EU 261/2004 stipulates, without a fight. But first, a review of what the EU regulation is:

The European Union’s Regulation 261/2004 applies if:

  • Your flight is departing from an airport located in an EU Member State; or
  • Traveling to an EU Member State on an airline based in an EU Member State
  • You have a confirmed reservation on the flight and arrived in time for check-in, UNLESS you’re travelling on a free or discounted ticket (does not include a frequent flyer ticket; so you are still covered by EU 261/2004 on an award ticket).

There are three components of compensation: cash compensation, rerouting or refunding, and refreshments/communication/accommodation.

Cash compensation for cancellations or delays that result in arriving more than 3 hours later than scheduled depends on the length of your flight:

  1. Flight of <1500 km: 250 EUR
  2. Flight within the EU >1500 km; OR any flight >1500 km but <3500 km: 400 EUR
  3. Flight not within the EU >3500 km: 600 EUR

Also note that even if your initial flight from the EU was not delayed and only your connecting flight in the U.S. was delayed resulting in a delay of over 3 hours, you would still be eligible. See Is EU Compensation Owed When the US Connecting Flight is Delayed?

Rerouting or refunding

The passenger may choose one of these three options:

  • Airline reimburses the cost of the unused flight tickets, and for used tickets where the flight taken no longer serves any purpose for the passenger’s original travel plan. In the latter case, the airline must provide a flight back to the original point of departure at the earliest opportunity.
  • Airline reroutes passenger under similar conditions to the intended final destination at the earliest opportunity.
  • Airline reroutes passenger under similar conditions to the intended final destination at the passenger’s leisure, subject to the availability of seats

Refreshments, Communication and Accommodation

The airline is required to provide to delayed passengers, free of charge:

  • Meals and refreshments in proportion to waiting time
  • Two phone calls or emails
  • Hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and hotel, if a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary

The airline may only reduce or withdraw these entitlements if offering them would delay the flight further.

 

According to EU 261/2004 Article 5, Paragraph 3 "The Airline is not obliged to provide cash compensation in the case of extraordinary circumstances which could not have been foreseen even if the airline took all reasonable precautions."

So in Betsy's case, United could try to claim this, although recent cases have indicated that mechanical problems do NOT constitute extraordinary circumstances. See the first two paragraphs of this article, bolding mine:

"The European Court of Justice has upheld a decision made last year, that entitled passengers to financial compensation, unless the delay was caused by 'extraordinary circumstances'.

The ruling also confirmed that mechanical problems do not fall in to that category."

Also see this link describing European Court of Justice Judgments on Regulation No. 261/2004, in particular point 3:

"Article 5(3) of Regulation No 261/2004 must be interpreted as meaning that a technical problem in an aircraft which leads to the cancellation or delay of a flight is not covered by the concept of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ within the meaning of that provision, unless that problem stems from events which, by their nature or origin, are not inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned and are beyond its actual control."

And in the case of Friederike Wallentin-Hermann v. Alitalia

"The fact that an air carrier has complied with the minimum rules on maintenance of an aircraft cannot in itself suffice to establish that that carrier has taken ‘all reasonable measures’ within the meaning of Article 5(3) of Regulation No 261/2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and, therefore, to relieve that carrier of its obligation to pay compensation provided for by Articles 5(1)(c) and 7(1) of that regulation."

So Betsy, based on her account of a United delay that meant an overnight in Barcelona and another 6 hour delay the next day, has a claim--the problem is getting United to pay it. While it can be time consuming and there's no guarantee of getting what you're owed, here's what I'd recommend based on this account from Flyertalk member jcs27, who actually did get cash compensation for a cancelled flight and having to leave earlier on a different flight:

1. Fill Out the United Customer Care Form with All Your Contact Info and the Flight Details

Make sure to include your United MileagePlus number, all of your contact information, Flight details including ticket number, flight number, origin, destination, date etc. 

 

2. When Stating Your Case in the Customer Care Form, Stick to the Facts and the Compensation You Are Owed

While it may be tempting to cover all the excruciating ramifications of your delay or cancellation, it's best to keep your statement succinct and stick to the facts. In Betsy's case, each person in her party was delayed for X hours (total of the overnight delay + 6 hours) at Barcelona, on an international flight of over 3500 km departing from an EU member country,  and the arrival was over 3 hours, so each person is due 600 EUR in compensation. 

Don't forget to make a copy of this Customer Care Form, both for your records and so that you can include it if you have to follow up with the regulatory authority in the EU country you flew from (or to).

 

3. United Should Email You a PDF Form to Fill Out and Mail to the EU Airport Where Your Flight Was Delayed or Cancelled

Keep in mind that even for the Flyertalk poster, this wasn't quick--it took about a month for United to send this form.

 

4. Fill Out the PDF Form, Requesting Compensation in the Form of a Check, and Mail to the Airport

Note that United's office in the airport in question will be responsible for processing your claim and cutting and sending your check, which will be denominated in Euros.

 

5. If You Don't Receive a Satisfactory Response from United, Send a Complaint to the Regulatory Authority of the EU Country

Here's the EU Complaint Form. It advises including a copy of what you already sent to United

And here is a pdf with the list of National Enforcement Bodies for EU 261/2004

It won't hurt to send a copy of this to United as well.

 

If you've claimed EU compensation for a flight delay or cancellation, what was your experience?

Related Posts

Is EU Compensation Owed When the US Connecting Flight is Delayed?

Airline Passenger Bill of Rights - What Are Flyers' Rights for Delays, Cancellations and Reroutings?

How to Complain to Airlines and Get Compensated

Which Travel Rewards Credit Card to Redeem on Any Airline?

Tips to Avoid and Deal with Lost Luggage 

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Comments
Picture?type=large Krys T. commented 23 Mar 2013
I greatly appreciate your detailed analysis of the situation. I will follow your guidance and keep you posted on my fight with United.
Picture?type=large Betsy K. commented 23 Mar 2013
Thank you for writing this detailed report regarding my ongoing battle with United for EU Compensation for a delayed flight. I am going to follow your recommendations and keep you posted on the process. ~ Betsy
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 23 Mar 2013
Betsy and Krys, I really hope you manage to get the compensation you're owed from United. I was somewhat heartened by the experience of jcs27, in that he actually did finally get the compensation he was owed even though the process wasn't quick.
Picture?type=large Riley M. commented 05 Jul 2013
Hi, I am in the final stages of my claim with United for a flight on May 3, 2013. I submitted my initial mail through their online contact form which was replied to by post. They initially rejected my claim stating that the circumstances around my flight delay did not come under this piece of legislation. I replied back insisting that it was with details of the delays and my experience as well as quoting a bit of the legislation and confirming that I would not hesitate to take them to small claims court over it. I received an email a few weeks later with a claim form and advising me to send it to their office at Heathrow which I did yesterday and am now just waiting on the bank transfer. It was a bit drawn out, but I was successful. Good luck everyone!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 05 Jul 2013
Riley, glad that your persistence is paying off! Getting U.S. carriers to pay EU compensation for flight delays is often like pulling teeth, but hopefully you'll receive your compensation soon.
Picture?type=large Riley M. commented 26 Jul 2013
Good news since my last post. The transfer from United arrived in my account yesterday which was about 2.5-3 weeks after submitting the claim form. All in all the process took just over 2 months from initial request/complaint to final payment.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 26 Jul 2013
Fantastic! So glad you received your compensation, and thanks for sharing your experience, as it will help others also seeking EU Compensation from United know what to expect.
Picture?type=large Betsy K. commented 26 Jul 2013
Great news Riley! After following Heather's advice, United sent me the compensation forms. Last week I received the money. I did the same for everyone in my itinerary and as of today we have all received the compensation. Thank you again Heather!!!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 26 Jul 2013
Wonderful, glad you and your companions received the EU compensation you were due!
Picture?type=large Krys T. commented 26 Jul 2013
Hilary's advice not Heather. I apologize for the confusion!!
Picture?type=large Yacoub O. commented 03 Jan 2014
i need help but don't really know where to start .Hillary please.
Picture?type=large Elaine W. commented 18 Jan 2014
Thank you so much for this page and directions. I had a delay over the holidays due to the luggage being mis-loaded onto the plane. My flight was from Chicago to Belfast City through Heathrow. My final landing ended up being 5.5 hours after I was scheduled to land, which meant missing some of my family members who had to leave. It was a terrible way to start the holidays. I hope that I do not have to fight United and this goes smoothly. I'll keep updating here to let you all know.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 18 Jan 2014
Elaine, glad the post was helpful, and fingers crossed that you receive compensation or a gesture of goodwill. While EU 261 doesn't apply if this was a United flight from Chicago (it would have to be an EU carrier for it to apply for flights *from* the U.S.) it would apply if you had a separate flight LHR to Belfast that arrived >3 hours after scheduled: 250 EUR per person, as LHR-BFS distance is <1500 km. Good luck!
Picture?type=large Nathan H. commented 28 Jan 2014
Does any one know if this rule applies to flights that cause you to miss a flight in a nonEU country. My flight from Heathrow to Vancouver by 28 hours because the flight from Heathrow was delayed causing me to miss my connecting flight in Chicago. I couldn't get another flight until the next day. They only offered me a $250 voucher. Is this because I was technically delayed in Chicago not London?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 07 Aug 2014
Nathan, sorry I missed your earlier comment. I'm not clear on how your flight was delayed 28 hours if the Heathrow flight wasn't also delayed. And if your flight from London Heathrow was delayed, you should be able to claim compensation assuming it wasn't delayed due to an extraordinary circumstance, such as weather.
Picture?type=large Mike B. commented 07 Aug 2014
We had a flight cancelled due to maintenance issues this week from Heathrow through Washington Dulles on United. They did provide an apology in the form of a $300 voucher by email. When the flight was cancelled again (after we had all checked in and had out luggage loaded again) on the second day, they sent me another $300 voucher. They had given us a decent hotel, transport and meals the first night. On the second we ended up getting on Virgin flight later in the day. I expect my companion to get similar vouchers. After all that, does it seems that they may still be on the hook for the 600 Euro for each of us? Or will they argue that this was sufficient?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 07 Aug 2014
You could refuse the vouchers and hold out for the 600 EUR you're each entitled to, but of course United is banking on the fact that most passengers won't want to deal with the protracted battle with United to secure this, and will just accept the vouchers. Good luck with whichever you decide.
Picture?type=large Katharina S. commented 24 Aug 2014
We are stuck at Newark, having missed the connecting flight to Europe due to mechanical problems on the incoming flight (delayed 3 hours) and will get home to Sweden 24 hours later than planned. Since we have a ticket bought in Sweden, do we qualify for EU compensation? Katharina
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 24 Aug 2014
Katharina, unfortunately, if you're on a United flight, you don't have a claim. Coverage doesn't depend on where you bought the ticket. If you were flying an airline based in an EU member state, such as SAS, Lufthansa, British Airways, etc. then you would be covered when flying to an EU member state. You're always covered when departing an EU member state.
Picture?type=large Wouter Z. commented 01 Oct 2014
Hi Hilary, We are from Holland and booked a flight from Amsterdam to San Jose, Costa Rica. On our way back the plane had mechanical problems wich resulted in a 8 hour delay. Because of this we missed our flight from Houston, Texas to Amsterdam and they had to rebook us to the next day. They payed for the hotel and gave us vouchers for 2 meals. I started emailing to United and they first offered me a fly certificate of € 50. I declined this offer and filled in a complaint form. Now they offer me a fly certificate of 300 Dollar. Today i sended them a mail that i decline and would like to file a claim. Do i have a case here? Wouter.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 01 Oct 2014
Wouter, very sorry to hear of your delays on your return from Costa Rica to Amsterdam. Unfortunately, EU 261/2004 does not apply for your return flight, because even though you were traveling to an EU Member State, United is not an EU airline (see the eligibility criteria noted in the post: "Traveling to an EU Member State on an airline based in an EU Member State"). While ALL airlines including United are liable for any delays when *departing* from the EU, only EU airlines are liable for delays on return flights to the EU.
Picture?type=large Wouter Z. commented 01 Oct 2014
So the advice is to just take the 300 dollar fly certificates? According to the EU 261/2004 i have no rights. Is here not a way to file a claim of some sort through American legislation?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 01 Oct 2014
Wouter, unfortunately the U.S. has no legislation that gives you any claim--all you're owed is in the airline's contract of carriage, which typically just obligates the airline to get you to your final destination on a future flight or refund you the portion of the unused ticket, with lodging/meals provided. See United's Contract of Carriage, specifically Delays, starting on p. 33: http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/Contract_of_Carriage.pdf There is no compensation, so the best you'll get is the $300 certs or whatever other "goodwill gesture" you're able to negotiate with United. You may want to at least try for United miles instead of certificates, since you could then use United miles to fly a different Star Alliance partner instead of United next time. Here are examples of the type of goodwill gestures United has granted for various delays and other inconveniences: http://travelsort.com/blog/united-compensation-for-flight-delays-and-delayed-baggage
Picture?type=large Wouter Z. commented 01 Oct 2014
Ok thanks for the information. I just got an email back that they can offer me a) a 300 dollar certificate, or B) 15,000 miles + the miles from the flight we took (we don't have a miles account yet) so i don't know if 15,000 is a better offer then the 300 dollar, not knowing how the mile system works, but you'd advise me to take the miles then ?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 01 Oct 2014
Glad United offered you a choice. A $300 certificate vs. 15,000 United miles is a bit of a wash (it basically values each United mile at 2 cents each) but I'd recommend only taking the $300 certificate if you definitely plan on flying United within a year, since they typically expire in 1 year. Miles can expire as well, but you can keep them alive (see http://travelsort.com/blog/airline-miles-expiration-policies-keep-miles-from-expiring). You can either earn more United miles by crediting Star Alliance partner flights to United, in order to redeem for a longer flight, or redeem 15,000 United miles for a short economy flight within Europe, e.g. AMS to FRA on Lufthansa, ZRH-MAD etc. Often those flights aren't $300, but if you weren't planning to fly United in the future (who could blame you given your recent experience) a free short flight that you can use is better than a certificate that ends up expiring unused.
Picture?type=large Elle O. commented 26 Dec 2014
I was on a United flight this summer from CDG back home to SFO, non-stop. I actually ended my vacation early so I could head back and pick up some work I was offered, but due to the extreme delay (4+hours) I missed the work. I'm trying to get the money out of United that I am due under Regulation 261, and I will fight them until I do, or until I refer it to one of the many agencies who fight these claims successfully. United has claimed they are not responsible under the law, but they haven't given me a reason why they aren't, and I'm in the middle of filing a complaint against them with the EU regulatory body. Fortunately my sister speaks fluent French, so that's a big help when contacting authorities in France. ...but yeah, will fight them until I get was is owed me-- which still won't cover the money I lost from the work I wasn't able to do. Will update when I'm successful, and let you know how I did it. I must admit I'm very tired of airlines holding passengers hostage with absurd rules and fees. it's especially infuriating considering that those same airlines refuse to honor laws that put any onus on them when their mistakes affect passengers. Double standards are so not cool, United!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 15 Jan 2015
Sorry to hear Elle, and assuming that the reason the United flight was delayed was not weather or other "extraordinary circumstances" hope that you're able to get the EU 261/2004 compensation you are due.
Picture?type=large Magnolia P. commented 15 Jan 2015
I have a bad situation with USAIR/ The new American Airline. My flight US air 717 ex MUC was can on dec14th, 2014 and they reboked me 19 hrs later. The MUc crew advised that I was entitked due to mechanical of the plane of Euro 600.00 and to claim this to contact USAIR in the USA. I did so and after 15 contact via phone, email, fax, certified letter, they send me a 200.00 travel voucher without comment. they claim that mechanical is out of the airlines control and they are not liable. Any suggestions. USAIR and the new AA as well throw the ball to each other and claim each other airline of the merger is responsible and that merger issues are resulting in this. What baloni. They just do not want to pay.I would love to hear if any body has gotten compensation for can flight fro AA or USAIR under EU261/2004.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 15 Jan 2015
Magnolia, ugh, sorry to hear of your long delay and that US Air is giving you the old mechanical excuse as to why they aren't liable under EU261/2004. EU Cases have established that a mechanical problem is *not* an extraordinary circumstance. I would file a DOT complaint (http://www.dot.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-complaint-comment-form) and write back to American citing the cases I mentioned in this post, that a mechanical problem is not an extraordinary circumstance for purposes of the EU regulation. A last resort is Small Claims Court or one of the sites that fight your case for you and take a percentage of the paid claim.
Picture?type=large Magnolia P. commented 17 Jan 2015
Hi Hilary, I complained to the DOT and to the german LBA already, and wrote AA back. the issue with AA is that there is no direct contact , the webmail form the are using goes into a self lauding NEW AA email with an auto response.No email address, no reply, no phone number. AA is trying to tire passengers out so they have not to pay. This is a totally other case in itself.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 17 Jan 2015
Magnolia, sorry to hear that all this has been in vain so far. I would consider small claims court if you want to pursue this yourself, or one of the sites that take a percentage of any recovery if you don't have the time. As an example, this poster on Flyertalk took KLM to NY small claims court and prevailed: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/21770836-post38.html
Picture?type=large Paul C. commented 19 Feb 2015
I understand compensation is only possible when the company is based in the EU. I had a flight last Sunday with UA from Houston to Amsterdam with a 5 hour delay. Agents told me I am not liable for compensation. Sincerely, Paul
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 12 Mar 2015
Paul, actually, as noted in the post, you are eligible for compensation for all flights that depart FROM the EU, and for flights to the EU on an airline based in the EU. This is why your particular flight does not qualify: it was a United flight flying to the EU. If you had been on an EU carrier, you would be eligible, assuming the delay was not weather related or an extraordinary circumstance outside the carrier's control.
Picture?type=large Steve H. commented 02 Mar 2015
I traveled booked tickets Manchester to Columbus Manchester to Newark flight was delayed 2-3 hours, missing connecting United airlines flight Newark to Columbus Instead of 2:30 Pm flight I was booked on a flight 8:00pm this in turn was delayed by 3.5 hrs , resulting in me missing Transfers , and stopping in Hotel and paying for taxi . In the end I was 9.5hrs delayed , Do I qualify I can't find anywhere on United Airlines Web site to register for compensation
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 12 Mar 2015
Steve, it depends on the cause of the delays. If they are purely weather related or otherwise completely outside the control of the airline, cash compensation doesn't apply. If, however, any of the delays were caused by mechanical issues, you are due compensation. You should submit it at http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/Contact/customer/default.aspx
Picture?type=large Jane L. commented 06 Mar 2015
I was on a United flight from Brussels to Dulles Airport on Dec 29 2014. The takeoff was delayed because of mechanical problems & then after we were airborne for about 1.5 hours our flight was diverted to Heathrow because the right engine deicer didn't work. We sat on the tarmac for hours while they tried to fix it [no food entire time] and then they cancelled the flight. They did put us up for the night & we flew out the next day. We are clearly owed 600 Euros under EU reg 261 but United has refused payment saying it was "extraordinary circumstances." We went through customer service as the notice they handed out instructed. We were told by customer care that we could not appeal the decision & we could not talk to anyone at United except her. We then found the official complaint form online & sent it to the General Counsel's office. We have heard nothing yet -- Customer Service did send us the $250 vouchers but we refuse to use them. This is very very frustrating!!!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 12 Mar 2015
It can take a long time getting United to pay EU compensation 261/2004, as other comments to this post have indicated. If all else fails, you may want to pursue your claim in your local small claims court.
Picture?type=large Sun J. commented 12 Mar 2015
Jane, I was on that same flight and going thru the same problems. Just one caution about pursue the claim in small claims court. there have been previous court decisions that dismissed court claims of EU 261 in US courts because its not enforceable here. You need to claim it in EU. Do a quick google search and it will pop up. If all else fails, I read that airhelp is pretty good, but they charge a hefty fee. Which general counsel did you send the form to? I sent it to the Belgium one this past week after united denied my claim and stated they considered my case closed. Direction générale ‘Transport aérien’ Directoraat-generaal ‘Luchtvaart’ CCN - 2ème étage - 2de verdieping Rue du progrès 80 Bte 5 Vooruitgangstraat 80 Bus 5 BE - 1030 BRUXELLES – BRUSSEL
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 12 Mar 2015
Thanks for chiming in Sun, and for the Brussels address. While EU 261 is of course not a U.S. law, a claim in small claims court can have the effect of putting United on notice that you're serious about getting what's owed you, and prompt them to pay up. See for example this post from a Flyertalker who received EUR 2400 for 4 passengers after taking United to small claims court. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/23618000-post283.html
Picture?type=large John M. commented 27 Mar 2015
Hi Hillary, I was delayed 26 hours from Geneva to Newark on United last week. Is Switzerland considered an EU member for purposes of this compensation scheme? I've already submitted a claim, but I'm not sure if I'm actually entitled to the compensation or if I should just accept the $300 voucher offer. Thanks, John
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 13 Apr 2015
John, sorry for the delay, just saw your query. Yes, airports in Norway, Switzerland and Iceland are included for purposes of EU 261/2004.
Picture?type=large Tamlyn D. commented 13 Apr 2015
Hi there Hilary, you're doing a great job here. I was severely delayed on flight LH7626 11 April. This flight has a lufthansa (european) flight number but is operated by United (american. Would we be entitled to compensation? Thanks, Tamlyn.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 13 Apr 2015
Tamlyn, unfortunately your flight isn't eligible, if it was operated by United and flying to the EU. If the opposite was true, e.g. it was a United codeshare to the EU but operated by Lufthansa (or another EU carrier) then it would have been eligible. For flights *from* the EU, ALL carriers are covered by EU 261/2004.
Picture?type=large Tamlyn D. commented 14 Apr 2015
Thanks for that Hilary.
Picture?type=large Catherine N. commented 16 Apr 2015
Hi Hilary, Thanks for your v useful blog - My family and I were all delayed 24hours H/row to Newark on route to Belize City due to the first flight being cancelled (mechanical problems) 2.5 hours before departing. United Airlines have allowed the claim and have sent me a form but... 1) they say that monetary compensation will only be paid if we were checked in and available to board... - we weren't checked in (but only because their online system wouldn't allow us to check in online for some reason)but we were at the airport when we were told of the cancellation. Another source I've looked at says that for a cancellation we only need to show proof of purchase of ticket and that whether or not we've checked in is only relevant to delays - do you know if this is true? 2) Assuming they accept the claim when I put it in they say they will pay compensation in a Citibank prepaid visa card for each passenger. I have no idea what this is or how to use it and would prefer the cash in the bank/cheque. Do you know whether I am within my rights to demand this? 3) finally I'd like to share a useful website I found which also has a lot of info and useful addresses on this subject etc including template letters etc http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/flight-delays Many thanks, Catherine
Picture?type=large Elliot A. commented 19 Apr 2015
Hi Hilary, I'm wondering if I can claim under EU compensation as our connecting flight was delayed. We were a party of 8 (4 children) and flew United, Heathrow -> Washington -> Orlando. The Heathrow to Washington flight actually arrived early however after boarding the 12.30 pm Washington flight and getting to the end of the runway we got told there was a technical fault with the plane. Spent an hour on the runway before returning back and after a couple of hours got told the flight was cancelled and we'd been booked on the 10.15 pm flight (other people got booked on the 5 pm flight and some even I believe traded those flights for $600 for other later flights) we got given a $7 food voucher per person which could only buy a value burger meal and we'd only been give breakfast on the previous flight from London we felt this was insufficient, we asked if we could use the United lounges to shower and let the kids sleep but were refused). Anyway 10 delay total door to door of around 29 hours, but as the delay was in the US can we claim that we were actually traveling from London to Orlando via Washington and the original flight started in the UK and also that it's a long haul flight or will United claim it was just Washington to Orlando that was delayed and not valid for an EU claim? Thanks Elliot
Picture?type=large Elliot A. commented 24 Apr 2015
I think I've found the answer to my question myself on the moneysavingexpert site which seems to be I should be entitled to claim under the EU ruling as long as the flight was booked as a single ticket starting in the EU. Seems even if it's connecting they take the delay from the starting destination to the final destination. Now to try and get United to see it that way, which might be a different problem.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 24 Apr 2015
Hi Elliot, if this is indeed a single ticket then it should be eligible, however to be honest I've never heard of United or any US carrier paying when the delay is at the connection and not the EU. In your correspondence, be sure to cite this case, which notes that delay at final destination is what matters, although I still expect United to fight this tooth and nail: http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_CJE-13-18_en.htm If you don't get anywhere on your own, you may want to have one of the companies that take a percentage of the final payout (but nothing if they lose) fight this for you. Good luck!
Picture?type=large Paul G. commented 18 May 2015
Due to fly back to Chicago from Manchester on Sunday at 9am direct with AA. Flight was cancelled as we we waiting to board due to a mechanical issue. So off to a hotel with a 9am monday second attempt flight time. Boarded (same plane) 10am monday, taxied out to runway, had to return due to a faulty gauge....after 4 hours sat on the plane the fault was not repaired, this meant the crew were unable to fly 8hrs without running out of hours. Back to a hotel....again. Now sat in hotel with wife and daughter looking at an 11am flight through philly to chicago....so much for the direct flight I booked, will land over 50hrs late!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 18 May 2015
Paul, this is one of the worst delays I've heard from readers--please be sure to submit your EU Regulation 261/2004 claim to American using their online form https://www.aa.com/contactAA/viewEmailFormAccess.do?eventName=customerRelations and make reference to the fact that technical issues are NOT considered extraordinary circumstances. See my post http://travelsort.com/blog/is-eu-compensation-owed-when-the-us-connecting-flight-is-delayed and refer to Huzar v Jet2.com.
Picture?type=large Paul G. commented 19 May 2015
Thanks for the advice Hilary :-) AA have already tried offering some travellers 20000 air miles worth of "compensation" I will pass on your advice to my fellow travellers in the hotel. The most frustrating part was the almost complete lack of communication between AA ground staff at Manchester and the passengers, leaving some of us on the first incident wondering around lost. I had to tell a rep on the second incident to use the PA to let people know what to do, there was absolutely no leadership.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 19 May 2015
That's very disappointing, to have such poor communication on top of the frustrating delays. Each person is due EUR 600, although unfortunately it does take a lot of persistence to get most airlines, including AA, to pay. Most people will value 20,000 AA miles at somewhere between $350-$400, so around 50-60% of the EU compensation that is due. All the best with your claim, and please let us know how it turns out.
Picture?type=large Paul G. commented 22 May 2015
AA have offered us $200 a ticket compensation because the EU regulations they say do not apply. We are British Greencard holders, and they say because our original departure was from the USA, and we reside in the USA the regs do not apply.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 22 May 2015
Not sure who at AA is saying this, but the EU regulations apply for ALL flights departing from an EU member state. It doesn't matter how you got to the EU, and it's true that the regulations wouldn't apply if you were delayed on a non-EU carrier flying *to* the EU, but as I understood it, the delay was on your departing flight from Manchester. Your citizenship has nothing to do with it either. Please send a copy of your complaint to both AA.ECClaims@aa.com and let them know you are also sending it to the Passenger Claims Unit at the Civil Aviation Authority in the UK, at passengercompalints@caa.co.uk. I'd encourage you to pursue this and not settle for the $200 ticket compensation--AA is reluctant to pay, but others have eventually prevailed, see for example http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/20161622-post1.html
Picture?type=large Paul G. commented 22 May 2015
Thanks again Hilary. I received an email from a Lourdes Foyt at Customer Relations at American Airlines. Her exact words were. "The regulation does not apply to passengers who reside in the United States and whose itinerary originate in the united states. The regulation would not apply and no compensation under the regulation would be due" I have already emailed them back, referencing my copy of the information document regarding 261/2004. I find their response quite frankly laughable! It's borderline deceitful.
Picture?type=large Paul G. commented 22 May 2015
I have registered a complaint with the CAA via their online submission form.
Picture?type=large Ed A. commented 22 May 2015
Hi Hillary, Could you expand on what discounted ticket means on the above excerpt: "UNLESS you’re travelling on a free or discounted ticket" Thanks for the helpful posts!
Picture?type=large Faiza A. commented 18 Jun 2015
Hi Hilary. Thanks for your detailed posts. I had flown from Riyadh to Frankfurt with Lufthansa and my connecting flight to Chicago was with United airlines. The ticket was booked through Expedia. My stop over in Frankfurt was for 6.5hrs. After 4 more hours United cancelled the flight due to mechanical issues with the aircraft. I had to spend the night at the airport as I did not have a German visa. They did not provide me with a hotel accommodation. They put me on a flight the next day which was again getting delayed due to mechanical issues and ended up being cancelled. On my request I was put up on the next available flight to Chicago which was an hour later. My stay at the Frankfurt airport ended up being over 27hrs! What claims/compensation can I get from the United Airlines?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 18 Jun 2015
Faiza, sorry to hear of your long delay in Frankfurt, what a nightmare! Assuming that as you mentioned the cause for your delay out of Frankfurt was solely mechanical and not due to weather or something truly outside United's control, you are owed EUR 600--the challenge as always is getting United to pay it. The first step is contacting United through its customer care form, http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/contact/customer/default.aspx. Clearly explain the delays you experienced, that it was due to a mechanical problem, and that per the ECJ and court cases such as Huzar v Jet2.com and Friederike Wallentin-Hermann v. Alitalia, mechanical issues are NOT considered extraordinary circumstances. United is likely to initially reply that no compensation is due, but insist that United provide you with the name and contact details of whom to send your EU compensation request to at United's Frankfurt office, and also send a copy to fluggastrechte@lba.de, the German body responsible for enforcing EU 261/2004. Hope you prevail in your claim!
Picture?type=large Elliot A. commented 08 Jul 2015
Hi Hilary, Thanks for your reply on the 24th April. United have come back saying we're not eligible under EC261/2004 (which although it was the connecting flight the first flight left from London). I did include details about http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_CJE-13-18_en.htm. They've offered $150 per person 1 year travel voucher only on UA which is useless to me. I guess I need to reply back and either push the EU ruling or try and convince them to offer a cash alternative. Any ideas? Thanks, Elliot
Picture?type=large Paul G. commented 08 Jul 2015
Hilary, an update on our case. We followed your advice and filed a complaint with the CAA, then emailed AA on their EU REGS email telling them we'd sent a copy of their response to the CAA. Before we heard anything back from the CAA, American Airlines emailed offering their sincere apologies over the way our complaint was handled, and it inform us our claim under the EU regs was indeed valid. They offered $680 (600eu) per ticket, OR $1000 each in flight vouchers. Thanks so much for the advice!!!
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 08 Jul 2015
Paul, so happy to hear that AA is providing the EU compensation you are due! Thanks very much for sharing your success, as it will encourage others to persist in their claims, even after initial denial by the airline.
User_avatar_default Christo G. commented 13 Jul 2015
Hi Hilary, Our 9:30AM United flight from Munich to Houston was Canceled due to maintenance. Our final destination was SFO due to arrive the same day at 6:00PM. We were put on the Non Stop Munich to SFO which left Munich at 4:00PM (6 1/2 hours later) however we arrived at 7:00PM (one hour later). The flight was over 3500 kms. Are we due Compensation? Thanks
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 23 Nov 2015
Christo, no, since you arrived just 1 hour later than your original scheduled arrival, you are not due any compensation under EC 261/2004.
Picture?type=large Diane S. commented 23 Nov 2015
Hi Hilary, I have enjoyed reading your article and thank you for all the advice. We are in the process of claiming with United Airlines under EC 261/2004 for a cancelled flight from the UK. United have agreed to pay compensation to myself and my husband, however they are stating that as the value of the compensation is 600 Euros each, it must be paid in the form of a preloaded Citibank card. As far as we understood, it is our choice as to how we receive the compensation (i.e bank transfer) and I wondered if you know whether United are correct in stating that we must receive a prepaid card? Thanks for your help.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 23 Nov 2015
Diane, glad the article was helpful, and that United has agreed to pay compensation--you're in the final stretch! The law simply provides for cash compensation without specifying which method, so United is able to fulfill this obligation with a prepaid card as it is a cash equivalent. While you can certainly ask United if you can be paid by bank transfer instead (and some airlines do this) I wouldn't waste too much time fighting this, and would simply take the prepaid card so as to get payment sooner.
Picture?type=large Diane S. commented 24 Nov 2015
Hello Hilary, Thank you so much for replying and for your advice. I think we will take the card. I hadn't heard of being compensated this way and so was a bit wary. Thanks very much for your help. It is much appreciated.
Picture?type=large Louis C. commented 17 Dec 2015
Hi Hilary, I was on a UAL flight from Frankfurt 11.22.15. After several attempts to fix some mechanical problems and 4 hours later the flight was cancelled. We were accommodated in a hotel with meals. I ordered room service because I had never had lunch and could not wait until 20:00 for the free buffet. I emailed UAL that night and referenced the EC Passenger Rights and requested compensation. I received a prompt reply with id # with indications of a response in 7-10 days. Next day I received a UAL email inviting me to visit a website to select a token of their appreciation. I selected 500. in travel certs. I have not received any other emails from UAL but have phoned a number of times asking the status of my compensation request. I am told it is handled by another "desk" and to be patient. Shall I wait it out, complete and submit form. I am a elite member and still believe I am entitled to the 600 euro compensation independent of their "token" gesture. Any thoughts would be most welcomed.. Thanks so much !
User_avatar_default john s. commented 27 Feb 2016
Do I qualify? Manchester to Chicago via Dulles (Washington) The flight was delayed on departure due to late arrival from a previous flight. That resulted in our arrival in Dulles being delayed, and because of the need to clear immigration we missed the connecting flight to Chicago. The Manchester flight arrived about 15 minutes before the departure of our Chicago flight. So it would not have been possible to catch that even without immigration processes. The next available flight arrived some 5 hours after the original expected time. Would this be a valid claim
Picture?type=large Alison W. commented 15 May 2016
So I just "MAIL" the completed Air Passenger Rights PDF to CDG Airport, Paris France and that will start the process?
Picture?type=large Dave I. commented 05 Aug 2016
I was recently delayed FOUR DAYS due to a flight from LHR to JFK being delayed and me missing my connecting flight. My ticket was booked with AA but the delayed leg from LHR to JFK was operated by BA. Do I submit the claim to AA as the company I booked the ticket with or BA as operator?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 05 Aug 2016
Dave, sorry to hear about your extended delay, sounds awful. Definitely submit your claim to British Airways, if it was the operating carrier. Am assuming that your flight was delayed for a reason covered by EC 261/2004? Note that weather, labor strikes, and similar that are outside the airline's control are not covered. BA provides a snail mail address for EC 261/2004 compensation requests: British Airways Customer Relations EU Compensation Claims PO Box 1126 Uxbridge UB8 9XS United Kingdom
User_avatar_default Barbara S. commented 25 Aug 2016
Here's Part 2 of our complaint to United. Is this worth pursuing? They have responded by saying the $300 vouchers are all the compensation we will get. Complaint #2 On July 5, 2017, we went to the Copenhagen airport for our return flight, Confirmation # LM4SXX, CPH-FRA-TPA, ticket #s 0162495344xxx and 0162495344xxx. We were scheduled to fly on Lufthansa flight # LH825, departing Copenhagen at 10 am. The agent could not find our reservation, so we sought help from the Star Alliance agent, who eventually 'found' our reservation and told us she would have everything taken care of quickly. Unfortunately that did not happen. Somehow, due to human error, or the failure of the United computers to communicate with the partner Lufthansa, although everyone could 'see' our reservation, Lufthansa did not have us on their passenger list. Additionally the flight was oversold so there was no possibility to get on that flight as scheduled. While the Star Alliance called United to try to correct the mistake, we too called United. We spoke with United CS representative Jackie in Honolulu. We gave her our ticket numbers and she told us those were NOT the correct numbers. Jackie said that our correct ticket numbers were 0162498953849 and 0162498953850. Because we had flown using the ticket number listed in the preceding paragraph, we began to suspect that this problem was even more complicated than we thought. The Star Alliance agent returned to tell us that she had spoken with United and that they were unable to help us. To say were were shocked – and angry – is an understatement. We were still on the phone with Jackie, and eventually she was able to re-schedule our flight for the next day, requiring not only an overnight stay in Copenhagen, but also an additional plane change. The new itinerary would be CPH-MUC-IAD-TPA. To make a bad situation worse, there were NO hotel rooms in Copenhagen for the night of July 5. A man from the Copenhagen airport information desk tried his best to find us a room, but with no luck. The hotel we had been staying at did have one room – at a cost of $800, which was unacceptable. Eventually this man suggested that we fly to Munich on July 5 because we might have a better chance of finding a hotel room. We accepted this offer and flew from CPH to MUC on July 5, flight LH 2445. We booked a hotel online and saved our receipts for reimbursement. On July 6 we flew MUC-IAD-TPA on flights UA 107 and UA 360. Again, referring to The European Union’s Regulation 261/2004, compensation for this flight should be: Flight not within the EU >3500 km: 600 EUR" United HAS reimbursed us for the hotel and our cab to and from.
Picture?type=large Jessica W. commented 29 Aug 2016
Hi Hilary, my partners flight was cancelled and was delayed up to 27hours from Dominican Republic back to the UK via New York due to mechanical problems. I have emailed the company and has offered me $300 worth of vouchers after disputing their initial $150 in vouchers. However they stated '$300 United Electronic Travel Certificate per person but based on European Regulation EC261/2004, cash compensation is not forthcoming'. Is there a chance for me to keep disputing as me and my partner will never use United Airlines again and for such a long delay i think cash would be only appropriate. Jess
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 29 Aug 2016
Jess, unfortunately your flight, if on United, is NOT eligible for EC261/2004 compensation, because it was not departing from the EU. Flights *to* the EU are only covered if the airline is based in an EU member state, such as Lufthansa, Air France, British Airways (for now, since UK hasn't left the EU yet) etc. In order to be eligible for EU compensation in the even of flight delays that are under the airline's control, I recommend flying an EU carrier for your next trip.
User_avatar_default Barbara S. commented 06 Sep 2016
Based on your response to Jess, it sounds like I might have a valid claim (as stated above). What's my next step?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 06 Sep 2016
Barbara, I can't tell from what you wrote above if you had a confirmed reservation or not on that Lufthansa flight that would make you eligible for EC261/2004 compensation. It sounds as though, since Lufthansa could you not see you on the manifest, you did not actually have a confirmed reservation on Lufthansa, due to some issue on United's end. I'd say the next step is to find out from United exactly what the problem was that led to you being denied boarding on the original Lufthansa flight.
User_avatar_default Barbara S. commented 06 Sep 2016
Thanks, I will
User_avatar_default Barbara S. commented 21 Sep 2016
Update: I wrote to United, asking for specific reasons we were not listed on the Lufthansa flight, and their reply indicated that we did indeed have "confirmed reservations" (United's words). I contacted https://www.airhelp.com/ , filled out the forms, and waited. Today I received an email saying that our claim was being paid by Lufthansa. Although AirHelp does take a fee, (€150 from the €600 pymt), the €900 is certainly more than we had before, and I'm satisfied.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 21 Sep 2016
Barbara, thanks for reporting back, and glad to hear that airhelp was able to get Lufthansa to pay EC261/2004 compensation, that's great news! Time is money, so getting that €900 paid to you sooner rather than later, without additional work on your part, seems worth the €300.
Picture?type=large Atulya M. commented 23 Sep 2016
Hi Hilary, I have had a delay on a flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt. The delay was 3+ hours. My airline is United. Am I due any compensation. I work and reside in Germany.
Picture?type=large Juan F. commented 07 Nov 2016
Hi Hilary, I have read thru your article and all the ensuing replies. Here's my situation and questions. I was on a United flight departing 8:55AM FCO to my connection in EWR on 5Nov2016 flying in businessfirst cabin. A little before 8:55AM we were informed of a 2 hour & 5 minute delay and therefore taking off at 11:00AM. Gate agent was rumbling that there was a 90% chance we would be cancelled, which at 11AM we were definately cancelled due to "mechanical issues". We were told to get our bags and handed something in Italian but I followed the masses to a hotel. We were all given a hotel night 3 meals and rebooked on a flight the next day leaving at 10:10 AM (delay was over 24 hours). In my email was a "customer appreciation" email that I should fill out to find out how much the appreciate me? Should I fill this out or go straight to customer care implying the terms of EU261? If I accept this "appreciation" will that void my request for the EU261 claim? I traveled on an award ticket and when rebooked my second leg to LAX was not on businessfirst but was told they would "waive" the fee to put me in economy plus. Should I start with customer care first and see what they offer inserting language about EU261? Or should I wait for an offer from "customer appreciation"?
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