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Last week my company had a company-wide meetup in North Carolina. Because our company is a global company, we had several people flying in from other countries (mostly Canada and the UK but a few others as well). When we got to the conference, I learned that one of our developers (Richard) had ended up missing his connecting flight from the UK. As soon as I thought about this, I started thinking about the EU261 law for delayed flights out of the UK and European Union, which we’ve covered on this site several times before

(SEE ALSO: Submitting an EU261 claim that could net me $1,500)

(SEE ALSO: Why Aer Lingus is paying me $1306)

Can you get EU261 compensation for a missed connection

After talking with Richard and getting the details, it became clear that he had missed his connection due to a long wait in US immigrations / customs. Here is the breakdown

  • Departed from MAN at 10:35 local time on Thomas Cook Airlines (MT2852)
  • Arrived at JFK at 1:12 local time (scheduled arrival 12:55pm)
  • Spent 2.5 hours in the first time ESTA customs/border control line
  • Left customs/border control at 3:42 local time
  • Missed flight from JFK to RDU, which left at 3:27 local time – this was on JetBlue (B61185)

The ticket was sold as one ticket through a UK travel agency. It looks like the MCT (Minimum Connection Time) for an international -> domestic transfer at JFK is 1 hour 45 minutes, so the itinerary appears to be valid

(SEE ALSO: American selling tickets that violate MCT?)

He ended up not getting rebooked until the next day and had to spring for a hotel room to overnight.

Is this a valid EU261 case?

EU261 covers cancellations and delays in the European Union (and UK), and would be applicable for any flight leaving the UK, like this one. (It’s also applicable if you’re flying TO the EU/UK as long as it’s on a carrier based in Europe). But it’s my understanding that in this case, the airline did what it was supposed to do. It was late by 17 minutes, but that would not be covered by EU261. I don’t think there would be a case against the travel agent either as long as the ticket didn’t violate the MCT at JFK (and I don’t believe it does)

The next thing would be any travel insurance purchased or available through a credit card. He did get a travel insurance policy through Southdowns in the UK but they denied his claim as well. I believe this would be covered by trip insurance on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Citi Prestige (see our top credit card offers here!), but as a UK national, he doesn’t have access to the lucrative US credit card market

What do you think? Does Richard have any avenue for compensation? Or is he just out of luck? Leave your thoughts in the comments

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