Fixing your own flight is easier thanks to our new EU 261 FAQ

I love getting emails from readers like Andrew Rapp, who never misses my weekly column, The Travel Troubleshooter, in the Hartford Courant every Sunday.

“I am writing to say thank you,” he says. “I knew exactly what to do when my wife and I recently experienced a five-hour delay on a United Airlines flight from Edinburgh, Scotland, to Newark.”

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In Europe, a regulation called EU 261 protects passengers like Rapp. And although a United Airlines representative at the check-in counter said that he “might be eligible” for compensation based on the length of the delay, no promises were made.

Rapp’s story is a reminder that a little self-advocacy can take you a long way, especially if you know what to ask for. (We can help with that.)

“I communicated with United’s customer care department via email as soon as I returned home,” he adds. “A computer-generated response arrived within minutes saying that we would be advised within 14 days of the outcome of our claim.”

But on Day 15 — you guessed it — there was no word from United.

But Rapp knew what to do. He found this site. He emailed one of the executives on the list. Yeah, some of the same executives that landed our friend Jeremy Cooperstock in court when he had the audacity to publish their names. He found the right person. He sent an email.

(If you’re keeping score, United is now in violation of two regulations. It didn’t compensate him for the delay and it didn’t do so in a timely manner. Tsk, tsk.)

“The next day we were told that our claim would be honored in the amount of 1,200 euros,” he says, “which is exactly what I expected.”

I wish every EU 261 claim was this easy to resolve. But it isn’t. EU 261 is frequently misunderstood and misinterpreted. EU 261 is also the one rule the airline industry loves to hate because it tips the scales in the passenger’s favor — one of the few times that happens in travel.

So to help, we’ve developed our own Frequently Asked Questions section about EU 261, which will point people like Rapp in the right direction when they have questions. The FAQ addresses common questions, such as which flights are covered by the rule and which incidents are claimworthy. A hat tip to Andy Smith, our chief copy editor, for developing this idea.

Unlike those services that take a generous commission for your EU 261 claim, we can’t promise our FAQ and the incredible insights here will make every claim a slam-dunk. But here’s what I can tell you. If you keep getting swatted down, let our advocacy team try for you. It can’t hurt.

“Knowing who to contact is a great help,” says Rapp. “Thanks again for the column and the blog.”

You’re welcome.