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Our LOT Polish Airlines was significantly delayed at least 5 hours long from Budapest (BUD) to Chicago O’Hare (ORD). Delayed flights are not fun but that is part of the air travel. We used miles to book into LOT’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner Business Class for 2 passengers. One ticket was booked using United miles and the other ticket was booked using Avianca’s LifeMiles. So both flights are award tickets.
Does Flight Compensation EC Regulation 261/2004 Apply to Award Tickets?
Because the flight was delayed more than 3 hours long, thus makes this incident qualify under the EC Regulation 261/2004 for flight compensation. The question remains though is whether both my travel companion and I can claim the cash compensation on our tickets that were booked using frequent flyer miles. We did not pay for the business class tickets, except for the minimal taxes and fees on award tickets.
According to the Wikipedia and here’s an abstract, it states that:
The EC Regulation 261/2004 applies to any passenger:
- departing from an EU member state, or
- travelling to an EU member state on an airline based in an EU member state
if that person has:
- a confirmed reservation on the flight, and
- arrived in time for check-in as indicated on the ticket or communication from the airline, or, if no time is so indicated, no less than 45 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time of the flight
- have been transferred from the flight for which he/she held a reservation to some other flight
- the passenger is traveling on a free or discounted ticket not available to the general public, other than a ticket obtained from a frequent flyer program.
The last part is clearly indicated that award tickets do qualify for the flight compensation under the EC Regulation 261/2004. Without hesitation, I went ahead and submitted the claims for both tickets. It’s worth noting that, the compensation claim has to be directly claimed with the operating carrier not the partner airline that the frequent flyer miles were used. In this case, the claim has to be submitted with LOT Polish Airlines (How to File Cash Compensation Claim on Delayed Flight With LOT Polish Airlines)
Our claim was successful and we each received €600 compensation from LOT. Here’s their response:
With reference to your letter, please accept our sincere apologies for all the inconvenience due to the delay of flight LO31.
We recognize that our customers expect their flights to operate as scheduled and we make every effort to prevent any irregularity. Unfortunately, however, factors such as mechanical malfunctions, adverse weather, air traffic congestion, etc., can and do interfere with the operation of all airlines at times.
Please be informed that we have awarded you the compensation of EUR 600. In order to finalize the transaction, please complete the form attached below. Our financial department reserves approximately four weeks to process the payment.
We hope that future air travels are satisfactory in every respect.
How Much is the Cash Compensation Under EC Regulation 261/2004?
Cash compenstation are divided into 3 parts and based on the distance as well as amount of hours delayed. It also applies to cancellation flights.
- €250, in the case of a flight of less than 1500 km in distance. 3 hours delayed.
- €400, in the case of a flight within the EU of greater than 1500 km in distance, or any other flight of greater than 1500 km but less than 3500 km in distance. 3 hours delayed.
- €600, in the case of a flight not within EU of greater than 3500 km in distance. 4 hours delayed.
How to File the Claim with the Airline?
- Save all your boarding pass tickets, reservation emails, etc. because you will need them to submit the claim.
- Determine the operating airline, not the partner airline that you use miles to book or travel agency that you book and pay for the ticket.
- Reach out to that airline, go to the website to see if there’s any contact form, feedback form, complain form, emails, etc. in order to follow the right protocol to submit your claim.
- Go through the process to provide necessary information that the airline asks for. In the note/comment field, you can provide a quick summary of the claim. Here’s a sample:
To whom it may concern,I am writing about the long delay of my flight [flight number] on December 2, 2023 from [airport] to [airport]. My booking reference is xxxxxx. The flight was delayed several hours. I am seeking compensation under EC Regulation 261/2004 for this delayed flight.
- That’s it! After submission, you should hear back from the airline. The time it takes to receive a response from the airline varies by airlines, so be patient and prepared to follow up if you don’t hear back. However, rest assured that this EC Regulation 261/2004 is legit and thus your claim is 100% valid for cash compensation.
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To learn more: Wikipedia on EC Regulation 261/2004