EC261 Reimbursement and Compensation Process

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Dwayne Coward

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Apr 13, 2016
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We receive many help requests on this subject, therefore, to help consumers navigate this process, we are providing the following post. This is being provided as a service to consumers and does not in any way provide legal information. If you want or need a legal opinion, please consult with an appropriate legal adviser.

EC261 REGULATION

EC261 is the European Union (EU) regulation, (including some other countries with ties to the EU that have adopted the regulation) that addresses Air Passenger rights.

It addresses many issues you may experience when traveling via air, including flight cancellations, travel delays, rerouting/refunds, overbooking, downgrades, and lost baggage. The following EU website provides a good source to determine what the airline is required to do in each of these cases. We recommend checking it out before contacting the airline so you are able to make a specific request to the airline based on your individual circumstances:


For additional information, we do have a Frequently Asked Questions page on our website, which you may find useful


"Extraordinary Circumstances"

This exception applies only to the cash compensation portion of the EC261 regulation. If the reason for the flight cancellation or delay falls within this category the airline is exempt from having to pay the cash compensation. Some common situations we have seen that fall within this exemption are Weather, Air Traffic Control, and Technical Issues.

We have seen a few cases where an airline denies a request for compensation due to technical issues. Some of these appear to be issues dealing with aircraft maintenance or computer issues. The EU courts have narrowly defined technical issues so most maintenance or computer issues probably would not fall within this category. If they deny compensation based on this, we recommend filing an appeal with the regulator to ensure the airline is providing the correct interpretation.

Even if the airline has indicated verbally at the time of the flight cancellation or delays that they are exempt, we highly recommend getting this in writing from the airline. Even if they deny compensation in writing it may be worth appealing as described below to ensure they are properly denying the claim in accordance with the regulation.

Payment of EC261 Reimbursement/Compensation

EU flagged airlines will normally want to provide any reimbursement via bank transfer (Wire). This is a very common payment method in Europe and they will require some information from you on your banking details. Your bank should be able to provide you with the information needed to complete this (if your bank accepts these types of transactions).

We have seen cases where the airline will offer a voucher towards a future flight in lieu of cash. In some cases, they may offer a higher amount. Keep in mind if you accept this in lieu of cash, this may alleviate them from paying out anything later even if you don't use the voucher. Remember these vouchers usually expire within a specific time period if not used.

STEPS TO REQUEST EC261 REIMBURSEMENT/COMPENSATION

1st Step: File a complaint directly with the airline.

Consumers should write the airline and specifically request EC261 reimbursement/compensation. The following are our recommendations on how best to accomplish this to ensure the airline is responding to your request and establishing the paper trail you will need to appeal:

  • Make the request using the airline's online form if available or via their customer service email, If the online form permits uploads, be sure to upload any requested documentation. If emailing, only include attachments if they specifically request them (in some cases, emails with attachments may be filtered to SPAM boxes by some companies email servers). If the airline provides a written denial of reimbursement and/or compensation, move on to Step 2 of the process.
  • If the airline does not respond within two weeks of your initial submission, use our company contacts to up-channel your request up the chain with the company executives. Email them one at a time, giving each a week to respond before moving to the next one. Do not email all of them at one time, the idea is to give each an opportunity to respond and possibly provide a positive resolution.
  • If you receive a denial or 6 weeks has passed since you made your initial request, it is time to appeal to the National Enforcement Board (NEB)

2nd Step: Appealing to the National Enforcement Board (NEB).

First, you will need to determine the responsible National Enforcement Board. The responsible NEB is usually going to be in the EU country (including those countries that are not members but have adopted the regulation) where the flight did or was scheduled to depart. If the departure airport is outside the EU, then the NEB would be where the flight was scheduled to arrive. * It should be noted that this process can take up to six months.*

  • Locate the appropriate NEB.
  • File an appeal with the NEB.
    • Each NEB has different procedures for filing the appeal. Once received, the NEB should forward your complaint to the airline to request additional information. We have found that in many cases, this will result in the airline contacting you directly and offering the reimbursement/compensation. If they don't, they will provide the requested information to the NEB, using that information along with available air traffic data, the NEB should be able to provide a determination
  • Receive a determination from the NEB.
    • Once the NEB has made a determination, they will notify you and the airline. If they determined that the airline owes the reimbursement/compensation, this will usually result in the airline paying. It is possible that they may not, and unfortunately, the NEB cannot force them, but they can sanction (fine) them for not complying with the regulation.
    • If the airline doesn't pay upon a determination that it is owed by the NEB, or the NEB has determined that it is not owed in your case, then the next step is to file a case in the EU courts.
* As of the writing of this post, we have not heard of any cases where an NEB determination that EC261 reimbursement/compensation is due and the airline hasn't paid. If you get such a determination and the airline has not paid, please fill out a help request, and we will be happy to contact the airline on your behalf.

3rd Step: File in an EU court for enforcement.

Unless you live in the EU, this may not be a viable option, but it is what the regulation provides. There are several companies that may provide assistance for a percentage of what they can recover. They do take a few cases to court, so it may be worth exploring. We cannot provide any recommendations to a specific company, and we recommend fully vetting them before you pay anything upfront, as there is no guarantee of success.

Unfortunately, based on a previous US court decision, it appears that this EU regulation is not enforceable through US courts. Again, you would need to contact an attorney to determine if you actually have any legal options through the US legal system.


SPECIFIC NEB INFORMATION

The following links to the specific NEB websites provide additional information and in some cases the ability to file your appeal online. Some of these do not provide an English translation. A Chrome browser with a translation extension is helpful in those cases.

AUSTRIA

CZECH

DENMARK

FRANCE (French only)

Some helpful information provided by other consumers in this process:​
1) Click Online Air Passengers Form - Questionnaire to start​
2) Note the Next button below to move forward through the initial questions.​
3) You will have to download a PDF form after answering the questions, and you may need to use a translation program to help fill out the form, such as google translations.​
4) Once the form is completed, there is a button at the bottom of the last page you will need to press "Envoyer en ligne" which mean send online, which should send this document.​

GERMANY

ICELAND

IRELAND

ITALY

NETHERLANDS (Dutch only)

SPAIN

SWITZERLAND

UNITED KINGDOM


Please post any questions you have to our help forum, our member will be happy to help.

If you found this information helpful and would like to tell us your story which may be included in a future article, please feel free to send it to us using the help form on our website.

If you have any feedback or corrections to the above, please send me an email at [email protected]
 
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