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My family and I recently returned from a trip to Europe that was a lot of fun… up until the last day. We had originally been scheduled to fly back to the United States on a direct Delta flight from Paris to Cincinnati. Finding such “unicorn” award space direct to Cincinnati was part of the reason we originally booked this trip. Unfortunately, our flight was cancelled and then we were not rebooked until the next day, on a connecting Air France flight from Paris to Newark and then onward to Cincinnati. Still, filing a Delta EU261 claim made the delay much more palatable.

Spending an extra day in Europe SOUNDS fun…. until you realize that extra day is just you hanging out at your Paris airport hotel and in the Air France lounge.

What Is EU261

EU261 is a resolution passed by the European Union back in 2005, laying out a specific formula for compensation for passengers whose flights are delayed or 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).  There are also similar laws in the UK and other European countries (like Switzerland) that are not in the EU. In this case, even though Detla is not an EU-based carrier, because they were flying FROM the EU (Paris), it qualifies for EU261 protection. If my Delta delay had been TO Paris, we would not have been covered.

My Cancelled Delta Flight

In my case, because my flight was 3931 miles (6686 4155 kilometers), my flight is considered a “Level 3” flight, and so the EU261 compensation is at the highest level.  As I understand it, a Level 3 flight that was canceled or delayed more than 4 hours is subject to €600 per person. We ended up getting to our destination about 30 hours after we were originally scheduled, so we were clearly entitled to the maximum amount of compensation. Additionally, this was not a weather delay but instead a maintenance issue.

Delta’s Apology Email

Within a few hours of our Delta flight being cancelled, all 4 of us got emails from the mysterious (and possibly non-existent?) Rose O. Dougherty from Delta Customer Care.

a screenshot of a computer

I know we disappointed you with the cancellation of Flight 229 to Cincinnati. An unexpected mechanical issue prevented us from departing Paris as originally scheduled. This wasn’t the experience we wanted you to have with us and I’m very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused.

If you incurred any hotel, meal, or transportation expenses related to this flight disruption, please see below for reimbursement consideration:

For residents of the United States or Canada, please submit an Expense Reimbursement Form. Otherwise, please reply to this email and attach your receipts.

I value 20,000 Delta Sky Miles at around $240, so that was nice. It was also somewhat unexpected since usually I find that most airlines (and companies in general) try to do the least possible thing.

Filing A Delta EU261 Claim

20,000 Sky Miles is nice but… it isn’t 600 Euros! I had actually forgotten about EU261 in the moment until I was telling the story to a friend and he reminded me about this. The various PWaC writers and I have actually submitted a few different EU261 claims over the year. Carissa talked about how she was glad her flight was cancelled (to get the EU261 compensation). Ian submitted an EU261 claim against KLM for $1500, and Aer Lingus paid me 1200 Euros (though I had to fight for it!) after my business class flight to Dublin was cancelled.

It’s been nearly 10 years since I first filed an EU261 claim (that one from Aer Lingus) and apparently times have changed 🙂

When I responded to the original email asking about EU261 compensation, Delta responded quickly

a screenshot of a message

Rather than trying to fight it, they immediately agreed with me and processed my payment. They didn’t even bat an eye that I had requested compensation for 2 hotel rooms.

The automated process for putting in my bank account information was pretty painless as well. The hardest part was probably having to do it 4 times (once for each of us), though for 600 Euros, I managed to suffer through the process 🙂

The money was in my account within a day or two

a screenshot of a computer

The Bottom Line

EU261 is a European Union law that mandates that airlines flying within or from the EU must pay compensation if there is a delay getting you to your final destination. For most transatlantic flights delayed more than 4 hours, it’s 600 Euros per person. While I have had difficulties in the past filing EU261 claims against various airlines, this Delta EU261 claim was quite straightforward, and Delta paid us $2,968.22 within a few days. Not a bad end to our Europe trip!

Ever filed a Delta EU261 claim? What was your experience? Leave your thoughts in the comments below

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