Does EU 261 apply to our Aer Lingus flight heading to Dublin?


Aer Lingus refuses to compensate Cheri Meisels under EU 261 for her canceled flight because it’s taking off from the U.S. Can our advocates get Aer Lingus to issue Meisels the compensation she is due under EU 261?

Question: My husband and I booked a flight on Aer Lingus from Chicago O’Hare Airport to Bordeaux, France, via Dublin. When we arrived at O’Hare for our departing flight at 8:30 p.m., we were told that it was delayed because of equipment problems. Although Aer Lingus had fixed the plane by 12:30 a.m., it canceled the flight because the crew had timed out.

Aer Lingus’ customer service agent refused to rebook the passengers, telling us that the airline was closed and we should call its telephone number after 4 a.m. to rebook our flights. The next day we rebooked our flight on KLM, arriving in Bordeaux the following day. This cost us a day of our vacation.

Once we were home, we immediately filed a claim with Aer Lingus for the 1,200 euros ($1,397) that we are each due in compensation for the cancellation under the European air passenger law EU 261. Aer Lingus didn’t respond for a month.

When Aer Lingus finally responded to our claim, it refused to compensate us because the flight cancellation occurred outside the European Union. But this is incorrect because we were flying to a European Union country, which is covered under EU 261.

I have filed a complaint with the Irish Aviation Commission and emailed the executives of Aer Lingus listed on your website, but we’ve heard nothing from either.
Can you help us obtain the compensation Aer Lingus owes us? — Cheri Meisels, Glenview, Ill.


Answer: You definitely didn’t have the luck of the Irish on the day of your flight. Aer Lingus should indeed have compensated you under EU 261 for your canceled flight — promptly. It should not have kept you waiting for its response for more than a month. For flights terminating in an EU country, EU 261 applies only to flights operated by an EU carrier. So you were covered.

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Aer Lingus’ agents may have been confused about this because its conditions of carriage provide that

[If] we cancel a flight, fail to operate a flight reasonably according to the schedule, fail to stop at your destination or Stopover destination, or cause you to miss a Connecting Flight on which you hold a confirmed reservation, we shall, at your option, either:
carry you at the earliest opportunity on another of our scheduled services on which space is available without additional charge and, where necessary, extend the validity of your Ticket; or within a reasonable period of time re-route you to the destination shown on your Ticket by our own services or those of another Carrier, or by other mutually agreed means and class of transportation without additional charge.

Since Aer Lingus was able to rebook you on another airline the following day, the airline apparently believed that it had no further obligation to you according to its contract of carriage. But when neither your complaint to the Irish Aviation Commission, nor the airline executives listed on our website yielded the EU 261 compensation Aer Lingus owed you, you asked our advocates for help.

We reached out to Aer Lingus on your behalf. Our contacts at Aer Lingus reviewed your case and sent you a check for the required compensation.


Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Elliott.org.

  • Dan

    Delay, Delay, Delay, Deny, Deny, Deny…. rinse and repeat for every customer.

    I wonder how many people on that flight received the proper EU261 compensation they are entitled to — less than 5%?

  • DChamp56

    Gentlemen, gentlemen… we have to protect our phony baloney jobs! Harumph, harumph, harumph!

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    Likely just this person !

  • Michael__K

    The European Commission (2013c) reports that data from airlines indicate that 5-10% of passengers entitled to compensation (in cases of cancellation or long delay) actually claim it
    http://ansperformance.eu/references/library/passengerdelaycost.pdf

    “£8billion worth of compensation for delayed flights going unclaimed”

  • BubbaJoe123

    This one looks about as cut and dried as any case I’ve seen on elliott.org.

  • BubbaJoe123

    It looks like one of companies that will collect EU261 compensation on your behalf (for a fee) has partnered with Expedia, so Expedia customers automatically get an email from the company if they’re on a flight where compensation should be due. Looks very consumer-friendly to me, in total, since I would bet a lot of people have no idea that they’re entitled to compensation. Does mean that some people probably pay the fee who wouldn’t have otherwise, but it’s a winner for everybody but the airline.

  • Steve Rabin

    I wonder if Aer Lingus provided the required EU261 notification of rights as they were supposed to do to the delayed pax. I’m betting not.

  • Alan Gore

    Wouldn’t it be a shame if Aer Lingus were denied landing rights here until they shaped up?

  • The Original Joe S

    Aer Lingus continues to demonstrate its cunning…….
    From reading about this airline many times on this blog, it’s gonna be a no-booking airline for me…..

  • AlanBowen

    I can certainly see an issue here, but of course if the booking had been with United, Delta or American there would have been no rights at all. Here in Europe Aer Lingus has been seen as one of the better airlines paying out and Ireland’s enforcement agency is seen as much better than the British CAA. It looks as though it may have been the US based staff who failed to recognise the rules, but after more than 10 years they ought to know them by now

  • wilcoxon

    We’ve “often” (about half a dozen times now) flown Aer Lingus and have had no issues with them ever (LOTS of problems with US carriers getting us to O’Hare to pick up the Aer Lingus flight but none with Aer Lingus). If you have Avios, Aer Lingus has VERY low taxes/fees to book tickets (unlike BA) – I booked an Avios flight recently with a BA agent via phone and the taxes/fees to fly Aer Lingus were ~$200 while they were ~$1000 on BA (even the BA agent sounded shocked at the difference).

  • cscasi

    I was lucky and one of the 5%, I guess. We filed with Lufthansa under EC261 and were paid within two weeks of filing the claim. Actually, the claim was filed and processed within three days from the time we filed it. It just took the other time for the checks to be cus and mailed out to us. Pretty good service as far as we can tell.

  • cscasi

    Hmm. They should do that here in the USA, with the U.S. carriers. Seems like we gets lots of complaints about them taking ages to pay up.

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