Do the rules of EU 261 apply to all passengers equally?


When Austrian Airlines cancels Mary Kopacz’s flight from Vienna to Frankfurt — and she and her husband miss their connection to Denver — she asks us the enduring question: Did the airline do everything it could?

Although Austrian Airlines put them in a hotel overnight and rescheduled them on a flight the following day, Kopacz asks if they’re “due any compensation for the canceled flight and 24-hour delay?”

Kopacz filed a claim on Austrian Airlines’ website, but after more than three weeks, they received nothing more than a standard acknowledgment.

EU 261 is a regulation that establishes rules for help and compensation that some airlines must give to passengers on certain flights which are delayed or canceled. Because the canceled flight originated in a European Union country, the regulation is applicable. EU 261 is a complex rule, and understanding how it applies to canceled flights or long delays requires a careful reading of the regulation. Answers to frequently asked questions about EU 261 are on our website.

Filling out the compensation form on the Austrian Airlines website should be sufficient for the airline to process Kopacz’s claim. Email is a great way to communicate with the airline about the claim, because it creates an easily maintainable paper trail. Fortunately, Kopacz did both, and she used email to follow up with Austrian Airlines about the status of her claim. Other than a canned acknowledgment, it just didn’t respond.


After several weeks passed without any meaningful response, Kopacz contacted our advocates for help. Before getting in touch with us, she could have posted her question to our help forums. Our help forums are staffed by travel industry experts and they may have had helpful suggestions about how to address this issue with the airline. She also could have tried escalating her complaint by contacting company executives who may have intervened on her behalf. We list executive contact information for Austrian Airlines on our website.

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Our advocates reached out to Austrian Airlines on Kopacz’s behalf — and they also didn’t receive a response. The European Commission maintains a list of National Enforcement Bodies on its website. Our advocates recommended that Kopacz continue to pursue the compensation to which she may be entitled by filing a complaint with the National Enforcement Body that applies to Austria. It’s important that passengers know their rights, and how to pursue them.

We hope that Kopacz will continue her pursuit of compensation — but because we weren’t able to assist her with her claim, we have to file this under Case Dismissed.


Diane Perera

Diane and her family love to travel, and they do so as much as they can. Having experienced the downside of travel, and having learned so much from Elliott.org, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight. Read more of Diane's articles here.

  • It is frustrating when the airlines ignore your request for reimbursement under the rules of EU 261for a qualifying delayed flight. If you get no where on your own, there are companies in Europe that specialize in getting you your compensation, though for a percentage. I was fortunate that I did not need their help when I had a seven hour mechanical delay and it only took me about six weeks to receive my 600 euros. If you feel you need help, I would suggest Air Help. I personally have not used them but have known people who did. They take 25% of your compensation as their payment. Good Luck

  • Dan

    EU261 has turned into the biggest joke in European aviation. Airlines seem to disregard it with impunity as the regulators turn a blind eye.

  • fairmont1955

    I had American do that to me. I went in circles with them, and kept every canned response they sent me which dodged their responsibility. After my fourth round, I packaged all the correspondence and sent it to one of their executives and told him I’d give him a chance to weigh in before I turned it over to the authorities since it was clear the company was attempting to wear me down/skirt the law. I got a response (and apology) within days. It shouldn’t have to come to that and it’s gutsy for this airline to go silent.

  • Annie M

    The link in the story to the National Enforcement Bodies doesn’t work.

  • SirWired

    What was the reason for the cancellation? That’s a core question for these cases.

  • Michael__K

    The OP should lodge a complaint with the Austrian National Enforcement Body for aviation here:
    https://www.apf.gv.at/en/passenger-complaints-plane.html

    They claim to have a success rate of over 90% with arbitration procedures.
    If that still doesn’t work, then the OP should look at third-party companies which litigate EC 261 claims in exchange for a commission out of the compensation. Here are some of the companies out there:
    RefundMe (http://www.refund.me)
    AirHelp (http://www.getairhelp.com)
    EUclaim (http://www.euclaim.co.uk/)
    GreenClaim (http://www.greenclaim.com)
    Claimair (http://claimair.com/)
    WeClaim (http://www.weclaim.com/)
    Bott&Co (http://www.bottonline.co.uk/)

  • joycexyz

    What a pity that such a good regulation has no teeth.

  • cscasi

    I can say that my experience with EU261 was not a hassle at all. I was on Lufthansa when my wife and I experienced a delay which caused us to miss our connecting flight, also on Lufthansa destination. We filed our claim electronically, using the Lufthansa claim form. Lufthansa called me the next day and requested additional items (copies of boarding passes. Sent those in electronically. Two days later Lufthansa called stating they received the requested items, reviewed and finalized our claims while on the phone and said we would each receive checks for the maximum allowed – 600 Euros (exchanged into U.S. dollars) within the next seven to ten days. The checks arrived within that time.
    So, our experience was just fine. Not all airlines seem to require pushing and pushing.

  • Francis

    The link to the National Enforcemnt Bodies in your article does not work.

  • Michelle Couch-Friedman

    It looks like the page was recently moved. The link should work now.

  • Michelle Couch-Friedman

    @peternthier:disqus Really? Mary is unaware of this and she is the passenger. I also have two other outstanding cases with Austrian Airlines so it would be great to hear from you directly.

  • Michelle Couch-Friedman

    It’s corrected now. The page was moved. Sorry!

  • John McDonald

    Bad regulation which many airlines ignore

  • Jennifer Stranik

    Note to self : “DO NOT use Austrian Airlines!” And, “Tell EVERYONE you know NOT to use Austrian Airlines!”

  • Peter N. Thier

    If I am not mistaken the customer has filed a case via the agency APF. They have received an answer on December 29th. For future cases I can recommend to contact our Feedback Department directly to avoid delays.: https://www.austrian.com/Contact/Suggestions%20and%20comments/Suggestions%20and%20comments%20form.aspx?sc_lang=en&cc=AT

  • Michelle Couch-Friedman

    @peternthier:disqus I contacted your public relations department on several occasions on behalf of Mary before she was forced to file this claim with the APF.

    @marykopacz:disqus did receive word this morning, Jan 8 that Austrian Airlines will now pay the compensation. This is not the typical path that a passenger should need to follow in order to claim the EU 261 compensation. It’s unclear why these additional steps were necessary for your passenger.

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