The European Union has strict passenger rights governing a broad array of travel but there is one regulation that is great for collecting compensation on delayed flights. That is referred to as EC 261 or EU 261 and it has now been expanded to cover more flights.
New EC 261 Ruling Opens the Door for More Protection
What is EC 261 / EU 261?
EC 261 or EU 261 is a passenger rights protection that gives a passenger the right to compensation if an EU carrier has caused a delay or a flight departing from an EU member state has a delay.
If you have a reservation for that flight and arrived on time, you are eligible to receive up to €650 per passenger (depending on the length of the flight and the amount of the delay) from the carrier if there is a delay. And, that €650 is cash – no voucher nonsense!
This is in addition to other out of pocket expenses that you may be out as a result of the delay. Also, this rule applies whether you booked your flight with cash or with miles so definitely a great way to offset the disappointment over a delay or cancellation! 🙂
What is the New Ruling Accomplish?
Last week, the EU’s top court had allowed for three passengers to receive this compensation for a delay that lasted almost 4 hours. The issue was that the delay happened on the final leg of the journey, in the US (Brussels – Newark – San Jose with the last leg having the delay). Normally, this would not have allowed for compensation as it was a domestic US flight.
Here is what has changed, according to this ruling. Now, passengers that are traveling on a single reservation that is operated on behalf of a EU carrier may seek compensation if they suffer a qualifying delay at any leg of that reservation, even if it takes place on a domestic leg at the end of the journey.
What Does it Mean for You?
Practically speaking, if you are flying on a reservation that was booked with a European carrier and you are flying, for example, from Frankfurt to Newark and then to Syracuse, you would be eligible for compensation from your carrier (let’s say, United) if you are delayed from Newark to Syracuse. This happens because the court sees that as being an extension of a Lufthansa operation due to it being operated on behalf of Lufthansa (if that was how the ticket was booked).
This is certainly a welcome change that will hopefully make sure that these flights are operated a little bit closer to on-time performance. It will still be somewhat of an uphill battle as you will seek compensation from the final operating carrier who would then have to get compensation from their EU partner.
This website has some nice examples of the letter you would write to seek compensation under EC 261.