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 Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

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