Compensation Clinic: Delayed Delta CDG-SEA Flight & EC 261/2004

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LoyaltyLobby reader Neil had a severely delayed Delta flight from Paris to Seattle this past July. The plane had brake issues and had to be swapped. The original flight crew timed out shortly thereafter making the arrival delayed more than nine hours.

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The reader had first learned about the EC 261/2004 compensation scheme on my write up last year that you can access here.

Back in July I was on an ill-fated flight from CDG to SEA. Brake issues and crew duty limits combined to result in a hefty delay in our arrival at SeaTac.

On Sunday, September 29th, I used Delta’s refund request form on the website to request EUR600 compensation under EU’s Air Passenger Rights regulations. Here is the request I sent in:

  • Due to mechanical problems and flight crew duty limit regulations this flight arrived in Seattle more than three hours after its scheduled arrival time. The original arrival time was 12:30PM, and the actual arrival time was 9:47pm. Per EU Air Passenger Rights I am entitled to EUR600 cash compensation for this delay as the flight arrived more than three hours late to the final destination. Please issue the compensation and send it to the above address. Thanks!

I got an auto-reply confirming receipt of the request on Monday, September 30th.

On Monday, October 7th, I called the main Delta customer service line to find out the status of the request. They told me to call the corporate office at 1-800-455-2720. The corporate office told me it could take up to 30 days to process and they would contact me by e-mail.

Today (Friday, October 25th), I called the corporate office again and talked to the refund department. They told me I’d punched the wrong numbers on in phone tree and the correct place to call was 1-800-455-2720, option 2, then 4.

I went to lunch, planning on calling the right number when I got back. While I was at lunch I got an e-mail from Delta that confirmed I was getting my money! Here’s their reply:

  • Thanks for your email. We realize our customers need an airline they can count on to reach their destination as planned and I’m sorry we let you down.
  • Delta Flight 614 on July 28, 2013 from Paris to Seattle was delayed for 5.56 hours due to mechanical reasons. After the bolts and brakes issue was identified, an equipment swap was necessary in order to rectify the situation. In the meantime, all appropriate measures were taken in order to offer you the best possible care and assistance.
  • After reviewing your claim, you are due compensation in accordance with the EU recommendations. I will be requesting a check in the amount of EUR600 equivalent to USD796.19. The check will arrive under separate cover. Please allow sufficient time for processing and postal delivery.
  • Your SkyMiles loyalty since 2002 is important to us. We look forward to your next flight with us…one without delays! Thanks again for writing.

I’m totally flabbergasted. The few threads that exist in this forum about EC261 indicate it’s like pulling teeth to get the legally required compensation, and there’s one thread that talks about someone who had to sue in court. In my case all I had to do was send a web form in and call twice to the wrong department. Never once did I have to get into a discussion with a Delta CSR about whether a brake malfunction was an exceptional circumstance.

In addition to the EC261 compensation I also received a $150 voucher in-flight from the purser as a thank you for being so nice about our equipment swap. We went from a Delta plane that had the new flatbed seats in BE to one that had the older, partially reclining, seats.

The only reason I had any idea about the EU Passenger Rights for this type of thing was a vague memory I had of your blog post on this very topic.

Conclusion

I am glad that the LoyaltyLobby reader remembered one of the articles I have written about the European Union Passenger Rights legislation also known as EC 261/2004 and it’s woes.

It doesn’t appear that Delta would have informed all the passengers on that flight, what their rights are under this legislation by handing out the leaflet or to have information readily available by the boarding gate.

I am glad, however, that Neil was aware of it and able to collect the compensation that he was due and that Delta did pay out without a “fight”, as should be the case.

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