Reader Question: EC 261/2004 Confusion – Community Versus Non-community Carrier?

A LoyaltyLobby reader dropped me an email regarding the European Union air passenger compensation scheme called EC 261/2004 that compensates passengers in cash for delays, downgrades, and flight cancellations

reader-question-west-jet-ec-261-2004

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Here’s the email from the reader:

I just read your answer regarding EC 261/2004 eligibility (http://loyaltylobby.com/2016/05/31/reader-question-westjet-lgw-yyc-7-hour-delay-ec-2612004-eligibility/#disqus_thread)

My case is a bit different as my flight was scheduled to fly to London Gatwick (LGW) on 2 October but originated in Toronto (YYZ).  This flight was cancelled because of mechanical issues.   WestJet booked us on a flight the next morning requiring a connection through New York (JFK) and arriving at a nearby airport London Heathrow (LHR), over 12 hours later than original itinerary.  WestJet did provide us with hotel accommodation and food vouchers to use in between the original and revised itineraries.

I understand that Regulation 261/2004 may only apply to flights originated in an EU member state or travelling to an EU member state on an airline based in an EU member state.  Since WestJet is based in Canada, does WestJet have an obligation to pay compensation as mandated by Regulation 261/2004?  I have already written a letter to them asking for this compensation but have not heard back.  I know that all cases are different but what sort of compensation will WestJet normally offer?

The community carriers means an airline that is based in any of the EU (European Union) or EEA (Iceland + Norway) countries + Switzerland.

The EC 261/2004 regulation applies to all community carriers’ flights to/from these countries (including parts of France that are rather far away such as French Guyana). I saw some notes that it wouldn’t apply community carriers’ fifth freedom flights such as KLM’s between Singapore and Denpasar when they are neither to nor from from EU/EEA/Switzerland.

The legislation also applies to flights by non-community carriers FROM EU/EEA/Switzerland. It does not apply for non-community carriers flights TO EU/EEA/Switzerland.

Conclusion

The EC 261/2004 doesn’t apply in the reader’s case because it was WestJet flight TO European Union that got canceled. WestJet flights FROM European Union are covered by this legislation, however.

Other countries should have as comprehensive pro-consumer legislation in place for delays, cancellations and downgrades + duty to care. It is in the airlines best interest then to take care of the consumer rather than delaying him/her for hours or days in some cases.

It usually makes sense to fly at least from the Americas to Europe using European airline (service levels roughly the same) due to the protection offered by EU legislation.

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