Did you know that in the event of a flight cancellation by an airline or a flight delay of more than 3 hours, you have the right to compensation for cancelled or delayed flight? It can also include accommodation, meals, and much more, according to the rules of the European Regulation for Air Transport and Passenger Rights (REGULATION EC-261/2004).
The easiest and fastest way to get compensation is through one of the agencies like AirHelp. They have a very high level of success in solving cases. If you want to deal with the problem yourself, here’s how I did it, it took me a little longer, but I managed in the end.
First, I will tell you about my experience and how I successfully solved the case of a cancelled flight. After that, we will move on to important and useful information and links that will come in handy if you find yourself in a situation where your flight is cancelled or delayed.
The first thing you need to know is that this applies to flights within Europe. It is essential that at least one of the airports is on the territory of the European Union in order for the law to apply.
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Air passenger rights in the EU apply: compensation for cancelled or delayed flights:
- if your flight is within the EU and is operated by an EU or non-EU airline
- if your flight arrives in the EU from a country outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline
- if your flight departs from the EU to a country outside the EU and is operated by an EU or non-EU airline
- if you have not already received benefits (compensation, rerouting, airline assistance) for flight-related problems on that trip under the relevant law of a country outside the EU.
EU means the 27 EU countries. But also including Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Réunion, Mayotte, Saint-Martin, Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands (but not the Faroe Islands). EU rules also apply to flights from and to Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
How I successfully filed a complaint and received 250 € compensation for cancelled or delayed flight
I had a situation where my return flight was cancelled just a few hours before takeoff. All this took place in the middle of the night while I was in a deep sleep. I was supposed to fly on the Cologne-Zagreb route one Sunday morning, with a departure time of 10:30 a.m. I woke up at 7 o’clock to get ready and go to the airport. As soon as I opened my eyes, I was greeted by an e-mail from Eurowings (the airline I was supposed to fly with) saying that my flight was cancelled sometime around 2 a.m. A few hours later, around 4 a.m., I received another email informing me that I had been transferred to a 9:30 p.m. flight FROM FRANKFURT.
Apart from the aforementioned notifications, I did not receive any additional offer. That would possibly include providing accommodation and meals for the 12+ hours during which I would have to wait for the next flight.
I didn’t even get an offer for the transportation, considering that the airport I was transferred to for take-off is 180 kilometres away. That is, a 2-hour drive in ideal conditions, from the primary airport.
I decided to immediately go to the airport in Frankfurt and try to solve the problem there. Also, maybe get an earlier flight to Zagreb. In Germany, the last-minute price for a train or bus is extremely expensive. I remember that I could not find transport for less than 100 euros and leave at a reasonable time for Frankfurt. Fortunately, I found an available blablacar that left around 1 p.m. from Bonn for about 10 euros.
I arrived at my final destination more than 7 hours later.
I arrived at the airport in Frankfurt a little after 3 p.m. I immediately stood in line at the counter where complaints were handled. I waited in line for almost an hour. When it was finally my turn, I explained the problem and asked if I could be put on the first flight to Zagreb. After rejecting me several times with the explanation that there is no flight before 9 p.m. and after 5 minutes of typing on the computer. She informed me that there is a flight to Zagreb and that it leaves in 20 minutes. She printed out my ticket.
I had less than 20 minutes to get to my gate at one of the largest airports in the world.
Somehow, I arrived at the gate on time and immediately boarded the plane, which took off somewhere around 5 p.m. I arrived in Zagreb around 7 p.m. It was more than 7 hours later than the scheduled time I should have landed in case I took that flight from Cologne at 10 a.m.
According to all of the above, I had a strong right to one of the compensations from the airline according to EU regulations.
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It was only after arriving in Zagreb that the real fight began. The one for the rights that belong to me due to the development of the aforementioned situation.
The criteria that are important for acquiring the right to compensation are: flight length (in distance)—perhaps the most important condition as a basis for all others. The next important fact is the time that passed from the moment I was supposed to land at my last destination (Zagreb) to the moment I actually landed. In my case, it was at 7 p.m. instead of 12 p.m. In addition, it is important to determine whether the flight was cancelled or delayed. And finally, they consider whether you received accommodation or meals for the time between the two flights and, even more importantly, – DID YOU ACCEPT THEM.
Charges based on the duration of the flight in kilometres:
- 250 EUR for all flights of 1500 kilometres or less;
- EUR 400 for all flights within the EU longer than 1,500 kilometres and for all other flights between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres;
- EUR 600 for all flights longer than 3500 km.
I submitted the first “complaint” about the situation directly to Eurowings via their form the day after the flight. Every airline that operates within the EU must have a complaint form on its website. This is an example of the form for Eurowings.
I didn’t get an answer for several months, so I repeated the process. About 6 months later, they paid me €10 for blablacar.
I was offended by this because I know the rights that belong to me. Therefore, I again filed a complaint directly with Eurowings. This time also with the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency. I waited a few more months, and, of course, I did not get a response from Eurowings nor from the Croatian Civil Aviation Agency. No answer.
The final result was a record-fast payment—compensation for a canceled flight
This development of the situation further motivated me to seek justice. This time I contacted the German complaint service, and I also contacted the EU regulation directly and filed a complaint. This time I also attached all the evidence that I was ignored for a year.
Here (EU passenger rights) you can read the conditions and rights that belong to you. And you can file a complaint at the same link.
Here (National Enforcement Bodies NEB) is a list of all responsible institutions by country. That should help solve problems and speak out.
However, I recommend that you fill out the form directly to the EU regulations:
I received a response from the EU regulations and German enforcement authorities within days. And a positive resolution in less than a month. The amount of €250 to which I am entitled under the above conditions was paid by Eurowings. Within 3 days of the positive resolution.
How to get compensation for cancelled or delayed flight in the fastest way possible?
There are a lot of agencies that deal with solving problems for travellers who have had delayed or cancelled flights. If you don’t want to be bothered with the whole process of resolving the compensation. You can always leave the whole process to them. I spent a lot of time researching the ideal agency. If you decide to choose one, I would definitely recommend AirHelp.
They have the greatest success in resolving complaints positively. See more about AirHelp HERE.
What should I do in case of lost luggage?
If you have paid insurance for lost luggage, first contact the insurance company. If this is not the case, you have two options.
Considering that such cases are not covered by EU regulations, the first thing you can do is contact the airline. Here you need to be persistent enough. In most cases, you have the right for compensation. Even if the luggage was found and returned.
Perhaps even more worthwhile is to do it through the agencies that deal with representing travellers in such cases. I would again recommend AirHelp. According to their statistics, you can receive up to €150 in compensation in the event of lost luggage. Receive a quick pay-out of €150 for every checked bag lost or delayed on your trip, no proof of contents required.
*All photos and text of the article are the property of the author and may not be used without consultation.