Today’s question comes from reader Jeff, who writes in about getting compensation for delayed flights on United Airlines
Do you know where to send the EU261/2004 complaint form to United?
United has not been much help—we definitely qualify–When flying back to USA our departing United flight was 3 hrs 56 min late arriving in Frankfurt from Houston — mechanical issue –so we missed our final connection in Houston back to Midland–they did hotel us and $20 for food and United has tried to make offers by email with miles and coupons but I have not accepted anything—I would rather have cash as we paid $9600 for 2 for business roundtrip–
Compensation for delayed flights on United domestically
Domestically in the US, there is no real law regarding compensation for delayed flights on United, American, Delta, Southwest or any other domestic airline. So you aren’t due any compensation for a delayed or canceled flights, and typically you won’t be getting any compensation either. Your delayed flight compensation is strictly up to the goodwill of the airline (which isn’t typically much!). I had a friend flying from New York to Cincinnati a few weeks ago on American Airlines. His late night flight was delayed (due to delay on an incoming aircraft) and then ultimately canceled. He was rebooked on a connecting flight (instead of the direct flight he originally had scheduled) the next MORNING. His compensation for the canceled flight? Absolutely ZERO. No vouchers, no miles, no food, no hotel, no nothing. He had to make hotel accommodations on his own.
Compensation for delayed flights on United internationally
Luckily for Jeff, his United flight was an international flight, so the EU261 law applies. I have written several times before about my experience with the EU261 law regarding delayed flight compensation for flights in the European Union, like when my Aer Lingus flight from Boston to Dublin was CANCELED!
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). In Jeff’s case, even though he is flying on United Airlines (not a EU flagshipped carrier), he WAS flying FROM the EU, so he should qualify for EU 261 compensation on that count.
As I understand it, a Level 3 flight that was canceled or delayed more than 4 hours is subject to €600 per person.
How to get compensation for canceled flights or delayed flights on United
If you have a EU261 case against United (or American or Delta or another domestic US carrier), the hardest part is finding out where to submit the claim. The best source I’ve found is this PDF of all the enforcement bodies for the particular countries. In Jeff’s case, because the flight left from Germany, he should submit it to the Luftfarht Bundesamt. That page has the PDF of the complaint form as well as the email address where to send the complaint form for compensation for a delayed flight. The PDF also mentions the Commission for Aviation Regulation, who successfully processed my EU261 complaint against Aer Lingus (netting me $1306). Here is another site with an EU261 complaint form.
I have read several stories of people in Jeff’s situation where United or other domestic airlines try to downplay the delay, offer lowball compensation or in every other possible way
Don’t settle for their schemes – know your rights and how to get the compensation for delayed flights that United is legally obligated to give you!
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I never knew this! In my years of flying millions of miles to Asia and back or to Europe and back, I was delayed numerous times. Shame on me! We have plans to go to Italy this coming Spring 2017 & will remember this if delayed beyond a reasonable time.
It’s still worth emailing United asking for eu261 compensation. They offered me almost double the compensation – $1200 each in flight vouchers, which I took. The email should be strongly worded.
Although the question is confusing, I don’t think that this qualifies for 600 Euros under EU261, does it? He says “our departing United flight was 3 hrs 56 min late arriving in Frankfurt from Houston”. That was not his departing flight to go back to the US, he says it was arriving in Frankfurt from Houston. Even if this is confused and it really is his flight from Frankfurt TO Houston, it was 3 hours and 56 minutes late, 4 minutes short of the required 4 hours late, isn’t it? Does EU261 apply to arrival at your final destination, even if there is an additional domestic US flight? I though it only applied to the flight directly from the EU.
I think he was saying that the arriving aircraft was late, causing his flight to be late. And while IANAL or anything, from what I understand, EU261 time is based on the delay to your FINAL destination, so I think that missing your connecting flight (even if it was a domestic US flight) would trigger things.
It’s still worth emailing United with the delay to your final destination and let them sort it out. I just did this with Virgin Atlantic for a 3 hr and 5 min delay flying into LGW last year. The link is on their website, process painless, and I was paid within a week. Virgin’s Contract of Carriage is more generous than the EU Reg in that it allowed compensation for delays from 3 hrs for a long-haul flight. The EU country your flying to/from governs the statute of limitations, which, e.g. is six years in the UK. So, you may want to check United’s contract of carriage and the statute of limitations for the countries you were delayed to, in, or from.
By all means start with United (or Delta, or American or whoever). In my experience though, just emailing their customer service department doesn’t get very far. They try to low ball you and downplay any actual legal obligations.
check out http://www.airhelp.com….they do all the paperwork and legwork and take a small cut but it was worth it for me.
Yes – there are several services like this that will do all the work for a 25% fee. IMO, it would not be worth it, but I could see how it would be worth it for some people