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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Can’t speak for every insurance, but Chase has a list of what’s considered a valid reason for paying out on travel delays (things like weather, mechanical issues, etc.) and my guess is “long lines at immigration” isn’t a specifically listed option, especially on an itinerary that exceeds the MCT even with the delay.
My experience with the Chase trip delay policy is that if it’s not a reason that can be selected from a computer drop-down menu, the staff has no power to override or challenge it. Some, but not all, separate insurance policies have a more human approval process but even then this one seems “iffy” at best for approval.
(That said, I totally sympathize — I missed a connection at MAN once for the same reason).
My biggest question would be how hard did he push to get an airline paid hotel voucher in JFK?
I’m sure he asked for it but I don’t know how hard he pushed. Since it was a work trip, our company picked up the cost of the hotel so he wasn’t out anything personally
This should be paid by travel insurance. At least mine would. (I pay 35 euro/month for it. It also covers if I fly on various tickets and one delays they will rebook me. Of course I need to keep an eye on MCT and common sense in that way.
In order to qualify for EU261 compensation, the reason for the delay must be within the control of the airline. Long passport control line is not one of the reasons.
For trip interruption policies, you’ll need to look at the policy terms to confirm whether the reason is covered. Some are more generous than others.
Yeah – that makes sense to me
How do you prove to the insurance or credit card that you really spent 2.5 hours at security? Seems to me this would easily be denied