I love getting delayed when departing from Europe! Europe has such strict rules regarding delays, (that are non-weather related,) that they pay out huge amounts of money, particularly for long-distance flights. Once I was delayed due to a mechanical issue on a Lufthansa aircraft which I wrote about previously. The actual regulation is Regulation (EC) No 261/2004.
This time around, on my most recent trip to Europe my mother was delayed on her flight from Rome FCO to New York JFK on American Airlines AA. I knew the flight would be delayed because the inbound flight was super late leaving JFK the night before. The airline actually called me in Rome in the middle of the night via an automated system to tell me it would be delayed the next morning. Of course the reason for this delay is due to late arriving aircraft, easy.
I wrote to AA using their online communication tool, and received an e-mail response within a day, impressive. They even had a specific category to choose for concerns regarding EU 261/2004. I was very succinct in my concern and wrote the following:
Dear Sir/Madam, I am writing in connection with flight AA 235. The flight was schedule to depart from Rome FCO at 9:40am and arrive 1:40pm, but it was delayed by over 3 hours and did not arrive in New York JFK until 5:15pm. Under the EU denied boarding regulation 261/2004, I am entitled to the sum of 600 euros compensation and look forward to receiving that amount or the USD equivalent within the next 14 days. Thank you.
Here’s part of their e-mail response.
Our records indicate that flight 235 from Rome to JFK did not operate as scheduled which resulted in the delay of your arrival to your final destination by more than 3 hours and less than 4 hours. You are, therefore, entitled to cash compensation in the amount of 300EUR per passenger. Given the exchange rate on the day of travel, this amounts to $407.83 USD per passenger.We would be happy to provide this compensation in the form of a check. Or, if you would prefer, in place of the check compensation, we would like to offer a transportation voucher in the amount of $900.00USD per passenger.Transportation vouchers issued by American Airlines are valid for one year from the date of issue. Although the value must be applied toward the ticket purchase prior to that date, the travel may extend past that date. Transportation vouchers may be used toward the purchase of a ticket for future travel on American, American Eagle or any American Airlines marketed codeshare flight. The voucher may also be used on any of the airlines in our oneworld® alliance, provided American Airlines is the international carrier (international flights are defined as transatlantic, transpacific and flights to and from South America). The redemption of the voucher and subsequent ticketing must be handled by American Airlines personnel or an authorized agent. While a voucher is nontransferable and may not be bartered or sold, you may use your voucher toward the purchase of a ticket for a friend or family member, if you choose. There are no travel embargo dates imposed due to using a voucher.
I actually did not interpret the rules properly in my initial request, I thought I was entitled to 600 EUR but it’s only 300 EUR due to the verbiage bolded below.
2. When passengers are offered re-routing to their final destination on an alternative flight pursuant to Article 8, the arrival time of which does not exceed the scheduled arrival time of the flight originally booked
(a) by two hours, in respect of all flights of 1500 kilometres or less; or
(b) by three hours, in respect of all intra-Community flights of more than 1500 kilometres and for all other flights between 1500 and 3500 kilometres; or
(c) by four hours, in respect of all flights not falling under (a) or (b),
the operating air carrier may reduce the compensation provided for in paragraph 1 by 50 %.
Too bad, if the flight was delayed only a few more minutes then I would’ve gotten 600 EUR. In any case, I’m very happy about the prompt response from American Airlines, and how they handled the communication between it. The check was received only a few days after telling them I wanted the cash rather than the voucher. The voucher is enticing but unless you flight a lot on AA metal, and me being in Hong Kong, only a new route from HKG to DFW is eligible.
Next time you are delayed departing from the EU on a non-EU carrier, or anytime flying a EU carrier, be sure to know your compensation rights, you may be entitled to some dough.