If at first you don’t get your EU 261 claim approved — try, try again

How to get British Airways to pay your EU 261 claim

Sally Lee and a friend book flights to London on British Airways. But the airline cancels their flight less than 24 hours before departure. Their story is a good lesson in how a specific European Union regulation can help flyers, and how to get your EU 261 claim approved.

Question

My friend and I booked airfare to London on British Airways through CheapOair, and the flight was canceled 22 hours before departure. The new flight they offered us did not work as it would have us arrive after our five-day tour had already started, so we decided to cancel this trip and get a refund.

I’ve called them countless times, and they’ve directed me to various departments and put me on hold for over an hour, and I still can’t get anyone to help me. Can you? — Sally Lee, Oakland, Calif.

Answer

I’m sorry to hear about the runaround you’ve gotten from both your travel agency and the airline. You noted in your correspondence with us that you are a member of British Airways’ Blue Executive club. So much for honoring customer loyalty.

Despite the fact that the alternate flight the airline offered you would have made you miss the tour you’d already booked, not to mention that the flight was from a different airport an hour away, British Airways pulled out every trick in the book to deny you compensation.

So our advocate pulled out every trick in the book to help you get it.

In its initial response, the airline expressed great sympathy, then took the opportunity to brag about its safety record.

I know how stressful it can be when your flight was cancelled, mainly because you had to cancel your vacation plans. You certainly don’t expect this to happen when you fly with us and I’m sorry we let you and your travel companion down.

Safety is always our number one priority. The reason we have such an excellent safety record is because if there’s ever a fault, we don’t fly until it’s fixed. Your flight was cancelled because of a technical fault, which our engineers assessed and decided couldn’t be repaired in time. We always want to maintain as stable an operation as possible. This isn’t only because of the disruption to our customers, but also because of how difficult it is to recover from a cancelled flight.

British Airways then denied any responsibility

So we joined you in the fray. Since Brexit hasn’t happened yet, and Britain is still part of the European Union, our advocate suggested that you make a specific request for EU 261 compensation using British Airways’ online customer relations contact form. To help fight your battle, our advocacy website also provides links to executive contacts at British Airways and CheapOair.

What is EU 261

EU 261 is a regulation covering flights into and out of airports in the European Union. It provides for up to 600 euros in compensation in many circumstances.

Unfortunately, British Airways wasn’t going to make it easy to get your EU 261 claim approved. The airline’s position was that it did not owe you compensation.

“I’ve checked our records and can see that as you didn’t travel on the rebooked flight and had abandoned the journey,” wrote a representative, “under EU legislation, I’m afraid we’re not liable for a compensation payment in this situation.”

The EU regulations do give the airlines an exception for “extraordinary circumstances.” Unfortunately, the EU failed to define the term.  This failure has created a situation where the airlines will use it to get out of paying the compensation. There have been some court decisions that have helped, so the use of this for maintenance/technical issues is normally limited.

So just what is it going to take to get your EU 261 claim approved?

Our advocate advised you that British Airways was misinterpreting EU 261 and suggested you file a complaint with the Civil Aviation Authority. The agency administers EU 261 in the UK. He also sent an inquiry to British Airways. The airline reviewed your case and finally agreed to issue you and your traveling companion compensation.

“I’ve reviewed your claim, and I’ve checked your flight again,” an airline representative wrote, “and I’m pleased to advise you’re entitled to compensation for the cancellation of your flight BA2278 on 18 November. The distance of your disrupted journey was over 3,500km and this has been calculated in accordance with EU legislation. This means you’re entitled to €600 in compensation. As there are two passengers included in your claim, the total amount of compensation you’re due is €1,200.00, which is equivalent to $1,494.”

The airline still isn’t responsible for the loss from your prepaid tours and hotel costs, which you’d also hoped to recover. They referred you to your travel insurance, which we hope you obtained. At least the EU 261 compensation was a few hundred dollars more than the cost of the original tickets.

I’m delighted that your fervent self-advocacy, with help from our advocates, finally paid off.

Share this story
Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook

Underwritten by

This site is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

This site is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

This site is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

This site is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

This site is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

This site is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

This site is underwritten by Enterprise Holdings

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

This site is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

This site is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

This site is underwritten by InsureMyTrip

It’s simple. InsureMyTrip finds you the right travel insurance plan, every time. InsureMyTrip is the authority on travel insurance. Rated A+ for travel insurance by the Better Business Bureau. All travelers that purchase a policy through  InsureMyTrip have access to Anytime Advocates® for claims assistance.

This site is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

This site is underwritten by SCOTTeVEST

An innovative apparel brand for people who want easy access to everything they need. For those who live for every second, SCOTTeVEST lets you maximize your life. Ditch the carry-on bag and pick up a  SCOTTeVEST.

This site is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

This site is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

This site is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

This site is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

This site is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

This site is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

This site is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

This site is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.