All About EU261 Compensation

Pam

Have you heard about EU261 compensation for overbooking, delayed, or canceled flights while in Europe? I have heard about it but wanted to do a deep dive about it today to ensure our readers know how to receive their compensation if they have a canceled or delayed flight in Europe. Refer back to this post if you experience either of these while traveling in Europe.

 

What is the EU261 Compensation?

The regulation was enacted in 2005 and updated in 2011 to include domestic travel in the EU. Unfortunately, in the United States, we don’t have a similar regulation. Instead, each airline will (or will not) compensate you. However, I would always ASK if you have a canceled or delayed flight within the U.S. Here is the Department of Transportation’s site that will let you know more about what you might get in the United States.

 

EU261 Compensation Occurs Under the Following Circumstances:

  • Departing from an EU/EEA member state
  • Traveling to an EU/EEA member state on an airline based in an EU/EEA member state
  • Cancellation of a flight must occur within 14 days of when the flight was to occur.
  • The delay time must have occurred so that you arrived at your destination more than 3 hours later than the scheduled time.

The countries that are part of the EU/EEA include:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • The Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden

The United Kingdom is no longer a part of this group but the regulation still applies to that country as well.

 

Amount of Coverage

The coverage depends on the number of flight miles.

  • 250 euros for flights under 1500 km (932 miles)
  • 400 euros for flights from 1500 km – 3200 km (932-2175 miles)
  • 600 euros flights over 3200 km

Delays and cancellations have to be within the airport’s control like staffing issues, mechanical issues, etc. Weather, strikes, and security risks will not count.

 

Person sleeping in airport - EU261 compensation

EU261 compensation might help pay for your stay in a hotel versus sleeping in the terminal when your flight is cancelled.

How to File a Claim for EU261 Compensation

Airlines are not going to help you file this claim. You will need to be proactive with it. If you can document (use your cellphone) any information, and receipts, that will help your claim. Then take your notes, fill out this form and submit it to the airline you were flying on. Be sure to save any documentation and follow up if you do not hear anything back within six weeks.

There are also companies that will fight for you (for a price, of course). Flight Right is one or you can google for other companies. Honestly, it seems complicated, so it might be worth it to have someone do it for you.

 

EU261 Compensation Story from a Reader

We were unfortunate enough to have our flight from LAX to Orly canceled this June after already arriving at the airport. The flight was booked with the new budget liner French Bee. This happened on Sunday, June 26th (my daughter’s 16th birthday), and French Bee does not have office staff on Sundays.

There was another passenger who wrote the phone number down on a sheet of paper and shared it with all of us standing in line, letting us know to call first thing Monday morning and that we were all re-booked on a flight leaving the following Tuesday at 10:30 am.

I spent that entire night searching for possible last-minute award flights to no avail since arriving Wednesday in Paris instead of Monday was horrible. We had an apartment rented that could not be adjusted/refunded, tickets for the Seine River cruise for four, and tickets for Disneyland Paris for 4, which were all booked before we arrived.

I started calling the French Bee number 30 min prior to when they said they were open and were “lucky” to get through to a person. Unfortunately, that person could not do anything to help me. There was a French Bee flight out of SFO that still had available seats for Monday that we asked to take instead, and they said no.

So, we ultimately lost two days in Paris and all tickets booked for those days. My husband immediately attempted to file an EU261 compensation claim. He found that most websites showed that a fee would be taken as a service for submitting the claim. We also contacted the airline on Facebook and by email.

Delayed Flight EU261 Claim

We were also delayed over 4 hours in Orly returning home to LAX two weeks later, and again, we were successfully reimbursed through another EU261 claim. While the entire experience was extremely stressful and frustrating, we feel very lucky to have been given back over $2,000 for the delayed four tickets, both leaving and returning home.

EU261 Claim Experience with French Bee

My husband said that French Bee did actually file the claim on his behalf, and he received eight separate direct deposits (one for each flight) for $600 a ticket (4 tickets from LAX to Orly and four tickets from Orly to LAX). Although parts of our trip were ruined and we were not able to do all the things originally planned, it helped our peace of mind significantly to receive that cash within a month of our travel. I hope this helps others who are unfortunate enough to find themselves in this position! I only found all of this great information on using credit card points and miles for travel earlier this year, and without that, I would have never known to request an EU claim. They certainly did not announce that information to us as the itinerary was falling apart!

 

Bottom Line

You are entitled to compensation if you are traveling from Europe on an overbooked flight and you were denied a seat. You are also entitled to compensation if your flight was canceled within 14 days or you were delayed from your destination for more than 3 hours. I think EU261 compensation is something you should be aware of if you travel to Europe, should you experience either of these inconveniences.

 

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