EU Flight Cancellation - How to Avail Maximum Compensation

22nd August 2019

No one likes when their flight or flights get delayed or cancelled. In the United States, airlines are obligated to do very little for their customers. In the European Union, however, airlines are required to provide compensation in some cases. Laws about delays and cancellations are specific and can be complex. Thus, this post will delve into how you can claim compensation for your flight problems in the EU. Additionally, it will provide some insight on how you can ensure that you get the maximum amount of money for your time and frustration.

EU Regulation 261/2004 is the specific regulation that provides these protections. Customers are entitled to claim up to 600EUR, or $673USD, depending on the exact circumstances of their delay. Airlines obviously don’t advertise this, as it costs them money. As a result of the lack of advertising, few flyers are aware that this protection exists. Out of the flyers that flew through the EU recently that became eligible for these protections, only 2% made a claim. While not all of them were successful, this is a shockingly low percentage. There are several online tools and companies that can help you estimate the amount of your claim, as well as help you claim it.

Unsurprisingly, many airlines don’t want to provide European flight cancellation compensation if they don’t have to. Thus, just because the law states that you are entitled to the claim, doesn’t mean that the airline will give it to you with no pushback. If you are willing to pay a portion of your claim or spend time and energy fighting the airline, the following paragraphs will delve into different claim methods. Following this, specifics of the law will be covered so that you can ensure that you are covered by the European protections before going through the hassle of fighting the airline.

By claiming compensation on your own, you don’t have to give up any percentage of your possible claim. This is great but people claiming on their own have the lowest rates of success. When claiming, address your claim to the airline directly, regardless of where you booked the ticket from. Additionally, be detailed and polite in your contact. Your communication will be forwarded to the appropriate department and the person to whom you are directly writing did not cause your flight to be delayed or cancelled. Following your details, cite the European regulations and request financial compensation according to the law.

If this seems like a lot of work and hassle, consider a lawyer. They are more expensive but usually more successful, especially those that specialise in this type of law. Most lawyers will require fees upfront, which can be more than the potential compensation amount. Meeting with lawyers and providing them all the necessary information, plus follow-ups can also be time consuming. Thus, if cost versus investment is your primary concern, hiring a lawyer is likely not the best option for your needs. Likely, something between the first two options is the best.

Using a third-party service that specialises in EU airline protections will be the best for most people. They only ask for payment upon successful completion of your claim. This can be a significant cost, but it covers all the fighting of the case. Most services will automatically elevate the case to the next highest authority should the airline choose to fight the protection. Companies that specialise in this type of work have the highest success rate compared to all the methods of making a claim against an airline in the European Union. Once you have decided the method for your claim, you should determine the amount of money that you are asking for and confirm your eligibility to ask.

If your flight is delayed by two or more hours, the airline must provide at least a modicum of care for the passengers. This means that they must provide food and drink (usually in the form of gift cards or vouchers for airport retailers), help in reorganising your plans for landing and even overnight accommodation. If they refuse at the airport, it is recommended that you get a meal anyhow and request compensation along with your claim. Legally, the airline is only obligated to reimburse reasonable charges, so don’t go to the fanciest restaurant in the airport.

For delays longer than three hours, you are entitled to all the above, plus more. This is where the regulations become a bit more complex. For flights shorter than 1,500km, you can claim up to 250EUR. For flights shorter than 3,500km within the European Union, you can claim up to 400EUR. Finally, for flights leaving the EU and longer than 3,500km, you can claim up to 600EUR. Exact delay times and specifications should be double checked for your specific scenario.

In the case of flight cancellation, the amount of your claim depends on the timing of the cancellation. If your flight was cancelled more than a fortnight before you are scheduled to depart, you should be provided with a choice of alternate flight or a refund on your ticket. If your flight is cancelled within the fortnight, you are entitled to varying amounts of money depending on the circumstances. Obviously, if your flight is cancelled while you are at the airport, the payout will be the largest of all the scenarios. Like with all other forms of compensation, be sure to refer back to the regulation and apply it to your specific scenario.

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