Hey Meridiana Airline, where’s our compensation check?

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By | May 12th, 2017

After Lynne Viti and her husband’s flight is delayed, they file a claim for compensation. Then they file another one. Where is their check?

Question: My husband’s and my recent flight from London to Naples, Italy, on Meridiana, an Italian airline, was delayed by more than seven hours. As a result, we missed the first day of our escorted hike, and did not arrive at our hotel — located a few hours southeast of Naples — until nearly midnight.

After we had returned from our trip, we were advised to invoke EU 261, the European consumer protection regulation. It states that if a flight is delayed more than three hours and the distance traveled is more than 1,500 km (932 miles), each passenger filing a timely claim is entitled to a payment of 400 euros.

We immediately filed a claim. We received an automated message from Meridiana saying that the company would not be responding right away, and later, an email stating that we had not completed the Meridiana form on its website, which requested identical information.

We then provided all the pertinent information again, and we submitted it by email to the Meridiana customer-care email address about two months after our flight. It has been more than 75 days since we submitted the necessary forms and documents to Meridiana, and neither of us has received any communication or compensation from the airline. We have a valid claim, the facts are clear, and we have supplied the required documentation.
We would like to receive the 400 euros each that are due to us under the EU regulation. — Lynne Viti, Westwood, Massachusetts


Answer: Meridiana should have paid your claim a long time ago. But the foot-dragging you experienced is normal, especially for smaller European airlines. It’s a known strategy: Airlines believe that delaying a claim will encourage you to drop the matter, and it often works. But not in your case.

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Let’s take a closer look at that regulation you were invoking. EU 261 establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights. The definition of “long delay” depends on the distance to be flown. I have more information on my frequently asked questions page on EU 261 on my consumer-advocacy site.

One of the problems with EU 261 is that there’s no ironclad provision for a timely reimbursement, so even if you file a valid claim, it could take a while to get a refund. Smaller airlines such as Meridiana are known to take advantage of this shortcoming. That’s why claims services like AirHelp exist to help cut through the red tape. Well, no one said it was a perfect regulation.

On a related note, imagine if such a regulation existed in the United States? Wouldn’t it be something if airlines could be held to their published schedules? As it stands now, an airline is not required to keep its schedule under the law. That’s absurd, of course. Imagine if everyone decided to pay their 2017 taxes in 2020 (or, if you’re a politician, never). But I digress.

You could have filed a complaint with the Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile, the Italian regulatory agency responsible for enforcing EU 261, but instead you turned to me and my advocacy team for help.

I contacted Meridiana and, after a considerable amount of back and forth between the airline and our advocacy team, it finally cut you a check for 800 euros.

 

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  • Rebecca

    I’m glad the OP finally received their payment, and didn’t lose a chunk to one of those EU 261 claim companies. These are the stories I like to read. An informed consumer, politely requesting something to which they are very clearly entitled. No ambiguity, no extraneous information meant to seek pity, no laundry list, no he-said/she-said with the truth likely somewhere in the middle.

    Now if only a similar regulation existed in the US to hold airlines accountable. While things like weather delays are irritating, they’re understandable. Yet so many times situations arise where a consumer should be due recourse, and they’re lucky to get a voucher that only a small percentage will actually use.

  • Flyonpa

    I guess the only way to get the EU Claims to be paid quickly, Is for the rule to put some “Fine” behind it of say 10% extra for every 30 days (or part there of) after the first 30 its not paid, Bet if the 400€ would be paid fast if it became 440€ then 480€ … Maybe the EU could set up a central website that claims could be filed thru, so the Airline could not say “It was incomplete” since the EU would only send complete and correct requests, and has the ability to track them, Maybe even require the airline to back feed completed info back to the EU tracking database.

  • cscasi

    I recently filed a claim with Lufthansa for a delayed flight from DFW to FRA, with a connection on Lufthansa to DUB. As a result of the first leg being delayed, missed the connection and the next available was about 6 1/2 hours later. Sent Lufthansa an email requesting to file a claim and within 30 minutes I was sent a one page claim form to fill out and return. Approximately 24 hours later, I received a telephone call from Lufthansa requesting I scan my boarding passes and email them to them, using a ID number they provided. A little over 24 hours after that Lufthansa called again, found they had the boarding passes requested, placed me on hold for about three minutes and then informed me that my wife and I were both entitled to compensation of 650 Euros and we would receive checks in two to three weeks. Just over two weeks later the checks arrived for $652 US, each.
    That was great service, uncomplicated and completed quickly.

  • BubbaJoe123

    “didn’t lose a chunk to one of those EU 261 claim companies”

    Because the Elliott team did the work for free. Nice of them.

  • John McDonald

    Many European airlines are about to close down so why would they even bother to process thse payments. Alitalia & Air Berlin will be the 1st of many to close down in 2017.

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