Airline Cancels Flight to Avoid Police – All Over $276

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. These regulations are excessive. I generally agree with your sentiment but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for airlines to fight EU-based regulations. EU regulations are driving airlines fares higher and restricting broader consumer access.

  2. Put Vueling Airlines on the won’t-pay-wear you down! Barcelona -Rome-Palermo, my luggage stayed in Rome 3days before arrival. I spent 200E, filed a repayment request. Sent all info 4x +Each time a response with a different case number. No repay yet!! 2mos. Later

  3. European airlines’ dream is to have their population become as ignorant and stupid as American hillbillies that can’t afford health insurance but still vote for republican politicians trying to destroy the little that’s left.

  4. “And it doesn’t just apply to EU member nations but also to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.”

    It actually applies to more countries than that. Any country that’s a member of the European Common Aviation Area (ECAA). That includes Serbia, Albania and (I think) Moldova. They have all signed up to EU Open Skies and get the benefits. In return they have signed up to EU Aviation law which includes EU261.

    And, despite applying EU261, Liechtenstein doesn’t have an airport.

  5. “EU regulations are driving airlines fares higher and restricting broader consumer access.”

    Have you seen fares for intra-Europe flights? Have you seen what Ryanair and EasyJet charge? It’s often cheaper than taking the train. European low cost carriers put incredible pressure on the legacy network carriers and even their low-cost subsidiaries

    I think consumers are doing just fine with EU 261. They have plenty of choice and access. Some even argue there is too much choice. The fares are so low and the competition is so high that it has dragged down the service level and products of premium intra-Europe service. Go ask Carsten Spohr what he thinks about the short haul market.

  6. Some say these regulations will raise fares, but which would you rather have?

    A little more expensive ticket but you have some confidence that it will actually complete the flight on time, or the way it is now where an airline can make a financial decision about cancelling a flight without consideration of any passenger payments?

    I want an airline to have to face some kind of penalty if they arbitrarily want to change schedules or invoke a cancellation of convenience.

  7. @ Jeff and Steven W.

    Does Europe have favorable rules, or do American airlines have little regard for their customers?

    European regulations are not excessive. American airlines give their customers the finger, and you take it. Yes, intra-Europe flights can be expensive. But then, within Europe there are very fast and reliable trains that can get you to your destination faster (downtown to downtown) in many cases, at a much cheaper price.

    There is a well known saying originated by a long serving member of the British Parliament. “In Europe, the government fears the people. In the United States, the people fear the government.”

  8. Really people if the airlines really hated the rules then they would either 1. up the prices or 2. leave the market.

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