If you’ve been traveling recently, you’ve probably encountered delays. If you’ve been keeping up with the news, thousands of flights have been cancelled or delayed throughout the holidays as weather and the Omicron variant have devastated the travel industry. Delays can greatly impact travel plans, from missing connections to missing an entire day in your destination. If you’ve had a delay to or from the European Union, you might be entitled to compensation. Here’s how I got Delta Airlines to give me $984 because of a delay.
I spent the first three weeks of December in Italy, and come December 20th, it was time for me to catch my flight home. My flight was originally scheduled to depart at 12:00. I was departing from Milan Malpensa Airport (MXP) with a layover John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) before arriving at my final destination of Raleigh Durham Airport (RDU). At around 07:30 on the day of my flight, I got a notification from my FlyDelta app that my flight had been delayed, and would now be departing at 17:00. Quickly doing the math, I realized that a five hour delay meant I would miss my connecting flight to RDU. Having flown the JFK to RDU route enough, I also realized that the flight I would now miss is the last flight of the day. You could say I was less than pleased.
I quickly received another notification that my connecting flight had been rescheduled to 08:20 the following morning. After talking to a couple of Delta agents, I was assured that upon my arrival at JFK, I would be given a hotel room for the night because of my missed connection. However, when I got to JFK, I was told that this was not possible. Frustrated and tired, I got a room at the TWA Hotel, the only onsite hotel at the JFK airport, in Terminal 5. This room, which I spent around 10 total hours in, cost me a whopping $307. You are definitely paying for convenience. As you can see below, it also states that Delta will provide accommodations due to misconnections.
EU Regulation 261/2004
I remembered reading something about compensation for flight delays to or from the European Union. Per EU Regulation 261/2004, you are entitled to compensation IF:
- The flight is within the EU and is operated by either an EU or a non-EU airline
- The flight arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline
- The flight departs from the EU to a non-EU country operated by an EU or a non-EU airline
You are entitled to compensation if it qualifies under the conditions above and the flight was delayed by 3 or more hours. The compensation amount is determined by the length of the flight:
- €250 for flights shorter than 1500 km
- €400 for flights between 1500 km and 3500 km
- €600 for distances over 3500 km
Keep in mind that this is an EU regulation, not airline policy. Given that my flight departed from the EU and arrived in the United States and the distance was over 3500km, I knew I was entitled to €600. I also wanted reimbursement for the cost of the hotel, since I was promised one before I left Milan.
After I finally made it home, I contacted Delta to begin the process of compensation. The first person I talked to offered me $150 for my troubles. I explained the situation and regulation and was then transferred to another person, where I was offered $200. The person I was speaking with had not heard of the regulation before, and told me I might be looking at a different airline’s policy (which I was not.) After not accepting this, I was transferred to yet another person with a final offer of $300. After about 2 and a half hours on the phone, I finally made it to the Customer Care department of Delta to file a formal complaint.
A few days after filing the complaint, I received an email saying that my flight delay qualifies for Regulation 261/2004, and I could accept the refund of $677 (€600) through a portal with JP Morgan.
Prior to accepting, I decided to follow up on reimbursement for my hotel stay. Per the fine print at JP Morgan, accepting a settlement relieves Delta airlines of any and all claims against them, so I did not want to accept before discussing the other refund. I explained the situation, and I was quickly told I needed to provide hotel receipts to be reviewed for Care and Assistance Reimbursement, which I did. Within two hours I got an additional refund of $307. I had to accept each separately, since they were technically separate claims.
Although it was frustrating that I had to spend so much time on the phone and talk to so many different people, I will say that once I was in contact with the Customer Care department, everything went very quickly. Next time, I would contact the department directly, rather than calling the Medallion phone number or the general help line. You can contact them through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 800–455–2720.
At the end of the day...
Don’t get me wrong — I love Delta. I will always fly Delta. From complementary upgrades due to my Gold Medallion Status to flying for free around the world because of miles, Delta absolutely has my loyalty. However, they are a large corporation that will try to take advantage of you if you do not understand your rights. Do not back down, and do not accept a smaller offer than you know you deserve. If I had accepted the first offer, I would’ve left $834 that I was entitled to on the table.
Do you have a flight delay story? I’d love to hear it! Comment below or email me at email@example.com
For more information on EU Regulation 264/2001, go to https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/travel-guide/flight-delay-compensation/