Know your rights in the EU

By Merle Crow
This item appears on page 27 of the October 2018 issue.

Another reader's letter reminded me of an experience of my own.

Heading home from Frankfurt, Germany, in September or October 2016, my wife and I boarded a United Airlines flight to Chicago, but the plane then sat on the ground hour after hour due to mechanical problems.

By the time things were fixed, we were told that a new flight crew would have to be found, as there would not be sufficient time for the crew on board to arrive at our destination within their allowable number of hours that they could work in a day. We finally took off over five hours late.

A few weeks later, I was reading a travel magazine and saw that, on any flight from a European Union country, anyone experiencing a delay of over three hours was entitled to 600 [near $700] in compensation per ticket.*

I wrote United, and they asked for details of my flight, which I provided. Soon after, we received the dollar equivalent of 1,200.


Honolulu, HI

*On any flight heading to a European Union (EU) country on an EU-based airline and on any airline's flight from the EU, passengers are compensated for lengthy flight delays, the amount depending on the distance of the flight. If a passenger experiences a delay of at least three hours, he will be rewarded €600 on a flight of 3,500 kilometers or more, €400 on a flight of 1,501 to 3,499 kilometers and €250 on a flight of 1,500 kilometers or less.

EU rules also state, "As a matter of course, a printed or electronic notice informing you of your EU air passenger rights must be clearly displayed at the airport check-in desk. The information also must be shown at check-in kiosks in the airport and on-line. If you were denied boarding, your flight was cancelled, you experienced a delay of more than 2 hours at departure or you arrive with a long delay at your final destination, the operating air carrier must give you a written notice setting out the rules for compensation and assistance."

To read the EU rules in full, do an Internet search for "EU passenger rights," then click on the result titled "Air passenger rights," then on "EU Regulation on air passenger rights."