Streetwise Professor

December 9, 2013

Make the Bastards Pay

Filed under: Regulation — The Professor @ 5:13 pm

A friendly bit of advice.  If you are on a flight originating in the EU, and the flight is delayed more than two hours, the airline owes you cash compensation.  If the flight is delayed or cancelled, and you arrive at your destination more than 4 hours after schedule, for flights over 3500 km you are owed 600 Euros, or nearly a cool $1000 at the current exchange rate.  Lesser compensation is due for shorter flights, or smaller delays.

I was on a United flight from Amsterdam to Houston that was cancelled.  I called United to demand my compensation, and they were very, very responsive as soon as I mentioned the EU regulation.

Not that they advertise it, mind you.  I overhead another passenger mention it when we were deplaning upon arrival at IAH.  Per these regulations, the airline is supposed to apprise you of your rights.  But United didn’t in this instance.   So I’m performing a public service by letting you know what is due you.  If they do to you what they did to me and 100+ of my newest friends on Sunday, make the bastards pay.  I only request a 10 percent gratuity, to show your appreciation 😉

Unfortunately, it just works on flights originating in the EU, or airlines registered in the EU.  I had a Dulles-Geneva United flight cancelled in September, for which I get bupkus.  Which made the collecting the 600 Euros all the sweeter this time around.

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  1. Well it looks like its back to Air Frog for me. Pity they don’t fly domestic

    Comment by SOTOS — December 9, 2013 @ 6:31 pm

  2. Even if it’s an “Act of God”?

    Comment by Highgamma — December 9, 2013 @ 8:05 pm

  3. @Highgamma. Not unconditional. But for a lot of causes of delay, e.g., mechanical (as it was in my case), crew issues, etc., you are due compensation. Which is as it should be. Bear the risk for things you can control, not the things you can’t. “My plane broke and I don’t have the part” doesn’t cut it.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 9, 2013 @ 8:34 pm

  4. Don’t they get to do a certain amount of definitional fiddling to get round this liability?

    Comment by Green as Grass — December 10, 2013 @ 11:52 am

  5. @Green-yes. Weather . . . they can fiddle that. Mechanical. Crew hours. Not so easy.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 10, 2013 @ 8:18 pm

  6. Wow – SWP – Still learn stuff from you each time. Fortunately I do travel foreign-flagged airlines when I go international. Is there any added consideration for business and first class?

    Comment by Danny Cruz — December 11, 2013 @ 5:37 am

  7. I’d be nice to have that as a domestic rule. US airlines are increasingly just cancelling flights because they “don’t have enough passengers”. Maybe I am being too cynical, but being around traders has given me a skewed view of humanity and organizations.

    I have seen that several times with my son who lives in a city with a periphery airport to a major metropolitan area. All the major airlines offer connectors from their hubs to this city to compete (and make the schedule and cost attractive vs. driving to hub airports). However, one is notorious for cancelling flights. He has a friend who is a police officer and had to drive 5 hours from the hub city back home to make a scheduled shift (basically, they didn’t offer a flight until the next day). My son is in a similar situation, so it makes it very tough to travel when the airlines make a habit out of cancelling flights.

    Comment by JavelinaTex — December 11, 2013 @ 9:39 am

  8. @Danny. Thanks. Hope everything is good. No . . . the reg grants a flat compensation for a cancellation/delay. Not based on price of ticket, class of ticket, etc. They figure the airline will get you there, eventually, in your class of service. This is a penalty for failure to perform in a timely fashion.

    @JavelinaTex. Howdy! Yes. They engage in opportunistic cancellation. A similar penalty would reduce such opportunism, but would probably result in a higher fare. The airline you mention is choosing a low quality/low price strategy, IMO. Force them to offer a higher quality (i.e., more reliable flights) and they will compensate by raising fares. Especially inasmuch as you characterize the market in question as fairly competitive.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 11, 2013 @ 4:57 pm

  9. Yeah, I remember when this was first touted some commentators said the airlines that would be hit the hardest would be the budget airlines, where you’re not paying for punctuality in the first place. If EasyJet were punctual, you’d not be paying £40 for a ticket.

    Comment by Tim Newman — December 12, 2013 @ 1:10 am

  10. @Tim. Which always makes one wonder whether the the policy is really intended to compensate flyers, or is a backdoor way of protecting full-service/high-fare airlines against competition from low-price entrants. A way of raising rivals’ costs. At the very least, that effect wold tend to reduce the opposition of the big carriers to the policy, and if the effect is big enough, actually make them supporters/advocates.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — December 12, 2013 @ 5:03 pm

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