As the old saying goes, you wait ages for a bus and then three come along at once. It felt a bit like that this week when it came to EU261 compensation for delayed or cancelled flights. In the last 7 days, I’ve claimed a total of €1,400 in compensation under EU regulation. Whilst the money hasn’t landed in the bank account yet, I only claim when I’m almost certain I have a case and my success rate from past claims is 100% so I’m fairly confident!
Each claim has been a little bit different, so I thought it would be interesting to share some details which will hopefully give some inspiration for your own claims.
Before I start, a quick word on whether it’s “right” to claim – after all, aren’t you pushing up ticket prices for all passengers by constantly claiming compensation? Yes, and no. Almost all major airlines have been adding a c. €2 surcharge to airline tickets to cover the costs associated with EU261, since the regulation gathered momentum from around 2005 onwards. So, you’re already paying for it, and if you don’t claim it just means more profit for the airlines.
Claim 1 – IT-related Cancellation in May 2017 (€400)
The IT meltdown at British Airways has been pretty heavily publicised on most major news outlets, and whilst BA and its contractors continue to argue about who exactly is at fault, their is no doubt that this was within BA’s control and they’re on the hook for compensation. Rather than argue in court (which is where it would almost certainly have ended up), BA have done the sensible thing and agreed to payout compensation claims.
I had booked a flight for my sister-in-law from Heathrow to Vienna on Monday, which was one of the last victims of the IT issues. BA cancelled the flight at around 5.45am, c. 5 hours before it was due to depart. The best alternative they could offer was a flight on Tuesday night, which for a trip that was only due to be 3 days anyway would have pretty much invalidated the trip. I ended up booking her on an early flight on the Tuesday with Austrian, and applying for a refund for the cancelled BA flight. Because the flight distance was over 1,500km, the compensation due was at the higher rate of €400 rather than €250.
Outcome [18/6] = Success: It took BA just a few days to reply to my initial e-mail, confirming that my claim was eligible for EU261 and asking for me to provide bank details for it to be paid. Apparently my maths / geography wasn’t great, and Heathrow-Vienna is actually less than 1,500km, so it was paid at the lower rate of €250.
Claim 2 – Delay due to ‘inbound aircraft being delayed’ in February 2017 (€600)
When I was refreshing my memory on the specific EU261 rules for the first claim (above), I realised I had misunderstood the compensation for long-haul flights over 3,500km. I was right in thinking that compensation was €600 for delays over 4 hours, but hadn’t realised that 50% of the compensation was due for flights delayed between 3 and 4 hours.
My wife and I flew from London Heathrow to San Francisco with Virgin Atlantic in February, arriving c. 3hrs late. I didn’t submit a claim at the time as I didn’t think I was due anything, but have just submitted two separate claims for my wife and I this morning. I’m a little less sure on this one, as flight stats says the delay was just over 3 hours, but my recollection at the time was that it was very marginal on whether it would hit the 3 hour mark or not.
Outcome [18/6] = Unknown: Virgin haven’t yet responded to either of the claims that were submitted. Unfortunately their SLA is 28 days, so I can’t start complaining about a lack of response yet.
Claim 3 – Delay due to technical issues in May 2017 (€400)
Ironically I was submitting the two claims above whilst on the ground at London Gatwick, awaiting a delayed flight to Malta. This was another one that ran very close to the wire, with the eventual delay being 3 hours and 8 minutes. It has been proven countless times that the European Courts deem technical problems to be within the airlines control (you can materially reduce the risk through comprehensive maintenance programs and having contingency parts / aircraft available).
Outcome [18/6] = Success: Another result from BA, who had replied confirming eligibility and credit €400 / £350 into my account within a week of the delayed flight. This is not a bad return from an e-mail that took 5 minutes to write, and paid for 50% of the cost of the holiday!
If you want any help on your own EU261 claims, just get in touch and I’ll do my best to help.