Disclaimer! We’re not compensatory or legal experts in any way! We are writing this post based on our personal experience on a recent European flight that was cancelled for which we got some money back. Money for beer? Woohoo!
Our Experience Claiming Compensation on a Cancelled Flight in Europe
Leaving Berlin for Norway in early March 2017 we ran into a common problem for the frequent flyer: a cancelled flight. We had boarded our flight out of the Schonefeld Airport on Air Norwegian and sat patiently in our seats for 2 hours of delays. And then we sat impatiently for another hour, until finally it was announced that our flight was cancelled, apparently due to staff not showing up. We were deboarded, picked up our luggage and then given a small voucher each to use at food outlets within the airport (about 15 Euro). We tumbled back out into the terminal, out front of the very same burger bar we had sat at on our arrival to Schonefeld not 6 hours earlier. Now what we wondered? Of course we googled up a storm to find out what would happen next, and although no-one could say exactly there was some consolatory news, including the possible promise of compensation!? Money back!? It sounded too good to be true! But in fact we did get some money back. If you’d like to know more about claiming compensation on a cancelled flight in Europe, read on to hear our experience including how much, how to and how long it took to see the payday!
How Much Compensation for a Cancelled European Flight?
We received 500 Euro back, or 250 per person, as there was two of us. Good news here being we didn’t even spend that much on the flight or the night of accommodation we missed in our next destination. So we came out ahead. Now this is of course a compensatory process, so all who are cancelled are not free to shrug their shoulders and have their plans put out by a day like we were on our very flexible six month trip. This amount of 250 Euro per person is in fact the entry level for compensation. This amount goes up to a maximum of 600 Euro based on a how long you were delayed and the distance of the delayed trip. Our trip was delayed by three hours and the distance of said trip was approx 1000km. This fell perfectly into the first category for an eligible compensation claim for a cancelled European flight: 3 hours delay and under 1500 km distance of cancelled flight. See here for a super handy table on all levels of compensation eligibility.
You may have noted I keep stressing the word “Europe/European” when mentioning cancelled flight compensation. This is because the EU (European Union) has set the legislation for passenger flight compensation. For more on eligibility and entitlements click here for their website, but as quick guide: it’s anyone whose flight was delayed or cancelled for 3 or more hours where their flight was operated either into or out of an EU country.
Another side to the compensatory process is during the limbo of awaiting your rescheduled flight. You must be rescheduled onto another flight. We were slow to head to the airline assistance desk as we could see the wait would be long and uncomfortable. Being in no rush, we chose to sit in the burger bar and spend our 15 Euro food vouchers (which sadly could not be used for beer!). As two of the last people to approach the desk (now 11 hours after we had arrived at the airport that morning) we were not able to be scheduled onto another flight until the following morning. This is often the case. When this happens the airline must then also give you accommodation, airport transfers and further meals. We were taken away by mini-bus to the nearby Airport Hilton where we were given dinner and then the following morning the VERY BEST buffet breakfast of our lives, before being ferried back by mini-van to the airport again. (I know, I somehow can’t make a cancelled flight seem like anything you wouldn’t want to happen!)
How to Apply for Compensation for a Cancelled Flight in Europe
To secure our replacement flight and the then required overnight accommodation near to the Schonefeld Airport it was the airline’s (Air Norwegian in our case) assistance desk to whom we applied. This then was also the case when seeking the owed monetary compensation. We simply contacted the airline’s customer service via their email channel and they sent us back two forms to fill in to then pay us the compensation. The forms were straightforward enough requiring our passport numbers, cancelled flight details and bank details. A note on bank details though (for Australians) a SWIFT and IBAN number were both required, which we had never heard of before. To find these numbers out we had to phone home to the bank which is never the easiest or most fun proposition when overseas, but all told the whole process only took about an hour. As a married couple we were able to nominate to have the payment made into just one account for the two of us so we both didn’t have to find out these numbers.
Having submitted the form we simply had to play the waiting game. We were not told when we could expect our payout, and neither were we notified when it happened. We simply checked our nominated bank account from time to time and about one month exactly after we had lodged our form we found the payment in said bank account, electronically transferred.
So on balance having a flight cancelled in Europe, was for us, a really good and lucrative experience! We scored 500 Euro which is like $750 AUD, and way more than we had spent on our missed night of accommodation. We also scored a night in much better accommodations than we were staying in on our long Europe trip (they had a pillow menu!) and we had the VERY BEST buffet breakfast of our life! So if you have a flight cancelled or delayed for more than 3 hours in Europe, keep calm, check this post’s links for compensation eligibility, and know that there’s probably a payday headed your way! Until next time, wishing you safe and (maybe?) lucrative travels! Erin and Ryan