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Reader Amanda writes in to ask:
I recently had a flight from Dublin to Honolulu with Aer Lingus. My connection of 3.5 hours was in San Francisco and doing the final leg with United. After a 5 hour delay the connection was cancelled. Two different planes had technical issues. I eventually got on a flight to Honolulu the next day having spent over 20 hours in San Francisco.On top of the inconvenience my hotel in Honolulu billed me for the no show. Do you know if I can claim from Aer Lingus or how I go about claiming compensation?Many thanks in anticipation.
Eligibility for compensation for canceled flights in the European Union
The European Union has a law called EU 261 / 2009, which sets out rules for compensation in cases of delayed or canceled flights. EU261 is applicable for any carrier flagshipped in the European Union OR if you are flying from the European Union OR if you are flying TO the European Union (but only on an EU-based carrier). Depending on the length of the flight, you are eligible for up to 600 Euros compensation.
I had an Aer Lingus flight last year from Boston to Dublin that ended up being canceled. We were put up in a hotel and then eventually rebooked in economy class the day after. It took a TON of wrangling
- Submitting an EU261 compensation claim for a delayed or cancelled flight
- (Still) Fighting for EU261 / 2004 compensation
- 4 (!) months later, I’m still fighting on my EU 261 Aer Lingus claim
but I eventually got a check for $1306 from Aer Lingus (2 people * 600 Euros converted to dollars). The trick was figuring out that the correct place to submit an EU261 claim for Aer Lingus was the Commission for Aviation Regulation website. Once that happened, it just took time but that’s it.
In Amanda’s case, her flight on Aer Lingus from Dublin to San Francisco WOULD be covered under EU261, and any delays or cancellation would be subject to compensation under EU261.
Eligibility for compensation for canceled flights in the United States
It was not 100% clear to me from the email which of Amanda’s flights were canceled / delayed (DUB-SFO or SFO-HNL), but unfortunately it looked like it was the United Airlines flight from San Francisco to Honolulu. The reason that’s unfortunate is that currently the US has no regulation akin to EU261. So…. with a delay on a US-based carrier within the US, you’re pretty much up to whatever they give you, and they’re not required to give you anything. You may be able to talk to them about some sort of goodwill gesture, but it’s not likely to be much. The airlines are very conscious to not give anything that could be considered as “compensation” for the missed flight so as not to set any sort of legal precedent.
Another recommendation would be that you might be able to talk your hotel into refunding the no-show fee if you explain the situation and ask nicely. I don’t mean to rub salt in the wound :-), but in the future, it probably would have been easier to get that done if you had called during the delay. When my flight to Dublin was canceled, I was able to call into Hilton and get my stay at the Hilton Morrison Dublin canceled (and my points refunded), even though it was past the regular cancellation time (with the time difference, it was already 5am on the day of my check-in in Dublin). I counted that as one of the 5 things I did right when my flight was canceled.
(SEE ALSO: 3 mistakes I made when my flight was canceled)
Sorry for the bad news and good luck in your future travels!