Pro-Tip for your next trip to Europe

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    I just returned from a 2 week trip to visit the family in Germany and discovered a not well known European law that I wanted to make sure my fellow travelling West Seattle neighbors are aware of!

    Our return flight was cancelled due to mechanical problems with the airplane after about 5 or 6 hours of not knowing what was wrong, needing a part from a city an hour away, not knowing where the part was delivered in the airport and then of course running into crew rest regulations from the delay requiring everyone to stay the night in Düsseldorf. The airline admitted to the mechanical problem repeatedly so I knew we would have a hotel and meals paid for, so naturally I went into expense report mode saving all my receipts. What I didn’t realize until we got our hotel vouchers is that the European Union has much stricter rules for airlines in favor of the passenger in bump/delay/cancellation situations. The rule is called EC 261/2004

    Under these rules, our flight was delayed more than 4 hours, was greater than 3500km, and originated in the EU. Regardless of our nationality and regardless of the flag of the airline, this rule applies per the airlines’ operating agreement in the EU. We were not only entitled care (meals, hotel, phone calls) but also compensation of €600! That’s $815!! Per passenger. Holy cow. This rule also applies to European flagged carriers when they are flying to the EU (like British Airways Seattle to London) but does not apply to American flagged carriers flying to the EU, only when they depart the EU.

    I submitted a complaint form to American Airlines yesterday and in about 2 hours had a reply offering $815 cash or $1750 in vouchers per ticketed passenger in addition to reimbursement for additional costs incurred (parking, internet fees, cell phone charges). I submitted all the paperwork today. We’ll see if they do pay up in a timely manner but from what I have read they do tend to make good on this rule.

    It’s good to know if you encounter any problems or delays on travel from/to Europe and something to consider when picking airlines for future trips.

    Also, until American Airlines finishes replacing their 1980s airplanes that haven’t been cleaned in the cabins since about 1997, make sure you get trip insurance if you have any expensive reservations (hotel, cruise, etc) I was very thankful I was only travelling home and only had to email my boss and Master Park. But I heard several of the Germans grumbling about missing expensive hotel reservations in big tourist destinations like Las Vegas and Florida.



    Wow, that is useful information! When I do go to Europe (not often) I usually fly BA for the trip across the Atlantic at least.



    Clearly, the EU’s priority of people over corporate profits is all effed up. When are they going to figure it out and treat people like the chattel they are?



    Great information! Thanks for sharing.



    That is AWESOME information, trickycoolj! All my family is in Germany, too, and I fly back every year. Darn, now I’m gonna be HOPING for delays/cancellations!! ;)

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