Europe has really favorable rules for consumers claiming compensation from airlines during delays. Under EU regulation 261 (2004) and subsequent court decisions passengers are entitled to between €250 and €600 cash for flight delays of over 3 hours, for cancellations, and for involuntary denied boardings due to overbooking. This even applies to award tickets.
The EU rules apply to flights departing from EU countries, and flights headed to the EU on an EU-based airline. And it doesn’t just apply to EU member nations but also to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
Airlines often claim an exemption due to “extraordinary circumstances” that couldn’t have been avoided, and there’s much litigation over this most of which having been resolved in favor of the passenger. For instance while strikes and weather can be extraordinary, mechanical issues generally aren’t.
- Airlines are terrible at complying with these rules.
- They improperly deny claims all the time or just don’t respond.
- Making it difficult to collect is their cost-minimization strategy.
- So businesses have propped up that will chase after the money for you in exchange for a cut of what they get.
Some passengers who have been stiffed have gotten creative, sending bailiffs to airline offices,
[S]taff are paying on-the-spot with debit and credit cards..If staff fail to pay up the bailiffs can remove and sell their office equipment and furniture.
In one case, bailiffs boarded a plane belonging to a small European airline and prevented it from taking off until the owners paid up.
Now one scofflaw airline is rescheduling its operation to avoid collections. One Mile at a Time writes about Star Alliance member Adria Airways cancelling Thursday’s flight from Ljubljana, Slovenia to Vienna because a former passenger in Vienna was trying to collect on a 250 euro claim (US$276).
When Adria failed to pay a 2017 claim, the Vienna-based passenger won a court judgment. Law enforcement was reportedly waiting on the ground for the flight to arrive in Vienna to collect on the judgment.
Ironically by cancelling their Vienna flight at the last minute all passengers on that flight are entitled to 250 euros apiece but we can probably expect Adria Airways won’t pay that, either.