Guest Post: 600 Euro Compensation for Delayed Flight in the European Union (EC261/2004)

Good morning everyone, I hope your weekend is off to a great start.  I am home in San Francisco this weekend and it is supposed to rain all weekend.  Therefore, I plan on posting and scheduling several blog posts over the next 48 hours.  This first post is from my close friend Jim who is a long time traveler and travel hacker.  We actually have a trip to South America together next weekend (more info to come).  He was recently on a delayed United Airlines flight and he shared his experience with me regarding claiming 600 Euros (~$633).  Enjoy the guest post!

It was a bright, sunny day on Monday December 12, 2016. I was looking forward to United Airlines flight 908 in United’s new Polaris business class from Amsterdam (AMS) to Chicago O’Hare (ORD). My flight was scheduled to depart Amsterdam at 11am. We began to board the plane around 9:30am. I sat down at my comfy new Polaris business class seat, turned on the movie Suicide Squad, and was comfortably enjoying myself. Around 10:30am, the pilot made the an announcement that there was going to be a slight delay due to a mechanical issue. I then returned to watch the rest of my movie.

Around 11:30am, the pilot announced that there was a maintenance issue with one of the aircraft pumps. By this point, I am now watching my second movie, and we have not moved from the gate. United asked Delta & KLM for help finding a replacement part. KLM did have a replacement pump part, but as you can imagine, that part did not work.  After we sat on the plane for 2 hours and 55 minutes, United asked everyone to leave the aircraft. I was told by someone who lives in Amsterdam that according to the EU rules, airlines have to let you off the airplane within 3 hours or they can be financially penalized per passenger.

After everyone was let off the plane, we were detained in the gate area. The airport security blocked the exit of our gate area so no one could leave. I asked the United gate agents why we were being held in the gate area and I was told that until the flight is officially cancelled, passengers cannot leave the gate area (odd, but OK). After waiting 2 more hours in the gate area, our flight was officially cancelled by United . By this time, there were no other flights from Amsterdam to the United States, so I figured United timed this perfectly so they would not have to put all of the passengers on another airline, so we had to fly United metal the following day.  Brilliant planning by United.

United did a great job accommodating all passengers at a local airport hotel and payed for dinner and breakfast. United tried to reroute me through Houston (IAH) and then onto Chicago O’Hare (ORD), but I would not have it, so they put me on the nonstop AMS-ORD flight.

At dinner, I had the opportunity to meet several passengers that lived in EU countries. They were talking about the European Union Regulation EC261/2004. I heard the EU had a very strict ‘Bill of Rights’ for airlines that fly into and out of EU countries, but I had no idea we were eligible for 600 Euros.

I searched online for anything I could find regarding the European Union Regulation EC261/2004 and I came across the following post on Flyertalk: Best Practices for Filing EU 261 Claims Against United? This is a great thread if you really want to understand the in’s and out’s of EC261/2004.

The following morning at breakfast, I made sure to share the Flyertalk thread with everyone. Passengers were very appreciative for the information. I am not sure how many passengers went through the extremely easy process of requesting their 600 Euros from United, but in just a minute, I will show you how easy it was to file the claim.

This next part really upset me. While we were waiting at the gate for United flight 908 on Tuesday December 13, 2016, I overheard some passengers talking with the United gate agents. The United gate agents were telling passengers that since United was a United States of America airline, they did not fall under the European Union Regulation EC261/2004, which was a complete lie. United also said because it was a maintenance issue, it would not fall under the European Union Regulation EC261/2004, which was another lie. How could United be that incompetent by giving bad information to all of these passengers? I made it a goal of mine to talk to as many passengers as I could during our nine-hour flight to Chicago, and made sure they were crystal clear that they were eligible for the European Union Regulation EC261/2004.

Needless to say, I am not sure how many passengers requested the 600 Euros via the European Union Regulation EC261/2004 through United, but the 4 passengers I have stayed in touch with all requested the 600 Euros from United, and we have all received our 600 Euro payment. Please see the letter and $633.60 USD check from United below.

United offered me a $300 United Airlines travel voucher good for 12 months, or 15,000 United Airlines MileagePlus miles, but I wanted the golden egg, the 600 Euros via the European Union Regulation EC261/2004. So how did I get it? I simply contacted United via their website and with these four simple sentences I had 600 Euros within 3 weeks:

I was on United flight 908 from AMS to ORD on December 12, 2016. This flight was delayed for over six hours, and I was forced to overnight in AMS. Per the EU, I am requesting 600 Euros under the European Union Regulation EC261/2004. Please let me know when I can expect to receive the 600 Euro payment. Thank you, Jim.

Within 24 hours, I had a reply from United with a confirmation number letting me know they received my request. That is all I had to do. My original AMS-ORD United flight was on December 12, 2016, I was on the same flight the following day, the letter was dated December 20, 2016 and the check was dated December 27, 2016 (a great Christmas present from United).  All in all, I had 600 Euros within 3 weeks.

So the next time you are flying an airline to/from the European Union and your flight is delayed six hours or longer, simply request your 600 Euros as soon as possible, and you should receive a check shortly thereafter.  Happy New Year to everyone, and safe travels in 2017. Jim

If you have any questions about European Union Regulation EC261/2004, I recommend checking out the Wikipedia page and Flyertalk thread.  If you have any other questions, please leave a comment below and Jim or I should be able to answer your question.  Safe travels everyone!

14 thoughts on “Guest Post: 600 Euro Compensation for Delayed Flight in the European Union (EC261/2004)

    1. Grant Post author

      I’m not sure what the deadline is, but if you have proof that the flight was delayed more than 6 hours, you should be eligible.

  1. Chuck

    We had a flight cancelled with AA and generally didn’t have an issue getting our check, it was delayed a bit due to AA filing for bankruptcy at the time. That was in addition to the miles and travel vouchers offered, and we were rebooked on Delta coming home so we got 10,000 Delta miles for our troubles as well.

  2. Samuel Hotchkiss

    This is so interesting! Thank you for posting!

    I flew American from Lisbon to PHL in September and our flight was cancelled due to mechanical issues with our aircraft. We were put up in a hotel and flew out the following day on the same plane, arriving 28 hours late. Folks on the flight had talked about this, but no one really thought it was something we could partake in, primarily thinking it was only for EU citizens.

    When we got home, AA proactively deposited in 20,000 miles in my account, and that was that. I tried to get more, but they said “no.”

    I took your advice yesterday and sent them the template email you provided. Sure enough, today I have received notification that I will be receiving the 600 Euros (after having deducted 20,000 miles from my account).

    All of that being said…THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for posting!

  3. Dan

    A small correction. The regulation applies only to EU Airlines flying TO or FROM the EU. And any non-EU airline (like United) flying FROM the EU but not TO. So if you were flying from Chicago to Amsterdam with united, you would not have been eligible to receive the money. If you were on say Lufthansa however, then you would have since it’s an EU airline.


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