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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!