Air Passenger Rights

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Airport Passengers Delayed

Air Passenger Rights: "The prospect of compensation made it possible for me to still enjoy my family holiday"

The anticipation of the holidays and spending time with the family is great, but it can all go horribly wrong when flights get disrupted. Mrs. M’s flights had been repeatedly rebooked and cancelled before she finally reached an airport 150 miles from her planned destination with a delay of over eight hours (note: names and places are changed).

Almost three weeks prior to departure, Catherine M. received a message from Lufthansa stating that the planned route had been changed. Instead of flying to New York John F. Kennedy via London and departing from Stuttgart, she would now be flying to Atlantic City Airport. Fortunately, her brother agreed to take a day off work and pick her up from the airport in Atlantic City. This should not by any means be taken for granted," said Mrs. M., „it is 150 miles away and a three hour drive each way."

Another nasty surprise at the check-in desk

In order to make it to Stuttgart Airport on time for her 7:45 am flight, Mrs. M packed her suitcase the evening before departure. As she arrived at the check-in desk, the next nasty surprise wasn’t far away: she was informed that she would not be able to fly via London but instead had been rebooked on a flight that was scheduled to fly from Stuttgart, then on to Berlin Tegel and then Moscow Vnukovo before reaching her destination New York John F. Kennedy. The route to Moscow would be operated by GermanWings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa; the last flight to New York John F. Kennedy would be operated by the company Aeroflot. I don’t really care where I have a stopover," Mrs. M recalls, "but instead of arriving 13:30 in New York, I will now only be arriving in Atlantic City at 18:45 and subsequently will only arrive in my home town at around midnight. I was so disappointed and speechless and was fighting back tears."

Further three hour delay

It was just as Catherine M. was about to embark on the final stage of her trip from Moscow to Atlantic City that the next piece of bad news unfolded: Your name was not on the passenger list for flight to Atlantic City. As the flight was already fully booked, there was no other flight to Atlantic City and her brother was already on his way to pick her up, her only alternative was to purchase a new ticket for 867 euros for the next flight to Atlantic City. Due to this further rebooking, her arrival was delayed for an additional three hours.

She finally landed in Atlantic City at 21:45, retrieved her luggage from the belt and could at least give her brother, who had been waiting at the airport for most of the evening, a big hug. At around 3.00 am the following morning, they had finally reached their destination - a small town very close to Norwalk.

Enforcement of payment of compensation

Catherine M. sent a friend an email telling her all about her adventurous flight to their hometown. Her friend just so happened to remember having once read something about the compensation that airlines have to pay to customers for delays. Catherine M. quickly started researching on the Internet for clues and soon came across (EC) Passenger Rights Regulation 261/2004 and various companies (e.g. Claim Flights) specialised in making claims on behalf of passengers.

When an EU aircraft arrives at its destination with a significant delay (at least three hours), all passengers are entitled, in accordance with the air passenger rights regulation, to compensation. The compensation could be anything 250 and 600 euros. The same applies if passengers miss a connecting flight as the result of a delay when the flights were booked together. It does not matter how much was originally paid for the ticket and you do not need to have a EU citizenship. Even with low-cost flights, compensation may be demanded from the airlines.

According to the Air Passenger Rights Regulation, Mrs. M. is owed approx. 600 euros in compensation due to the massive delay. A further 600 euros can be claimed for denied boarding, as Lufthansa failed to rebook her on the flight from Moscow to Atlantic City and also due to the fact that the cancellation was not made seven days prior to departure, but on the day of travel. That means Mrs. M. could get up to 1200 Euro, app. $1400 USD in compensation for her delay.

Claim Compensation for flight delays from three to six years ago retroactively

Although many passengers are still unaware of their rights regarding flight delays, every air passenger is entitled to compensation. According to the EC Regulation 261/2004, each passenger has the right to compensation for flight delays. The EC Regulation is a law of the European Union, with which all European countries much comply. The amount of compensation available is based on the following:

Delay of 3 hours and distance less than 1500 km - 250 Euros
Delay of 3 hours and distance between 1500 and 3500 km - 400 Euros
Delay of 3 hours and distance over 3500 km flight beyond the EU borders - 600 Euros
Many passengers still fail to make a claim and implement their rights. In case you have a claim, check out the new service from www.claimflights.co.uk and www.claimflights.com online without any cost risk for the passenger.

It is recommended that passengers make their claim as soon as possible. Compensation for UK flight delays from 2009 may still be claimed but only until 31/12/2015.

(Names and places changed to protect privacy)

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