My EU (EC) 261/2004 claim with Delta / KLM – You decide for me what to do next?!?

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delayed out of eu

There is much we can say about Europe vs the USA. One thing they take VERY seriously is delays that are caused by the airline that affect travelers. Now we are NOT talking weather here, we are talking things that are the airline’s fault. I had just such an issue on my last trip home from Sweden.

You see, my flight was delayed by 3 hours departing from Gothenburg Sweden who, while they have kept their own currency, are part of the EU. Thus, Skyteam is bound by EU (EC) 261/2004 rules for delayed passengers as you can see on my fellow BA blogger Chris Elliotts site. There are a great many things they should do including food and more.

klm gate in gothenburg sweden delta points blog (1)

My outbound flight was to depart at 6:30AM. I was at the airport really early and at the gate well before anyone else was. I was even too early for the lounge to be open (it opens at 5:30AM btw).

After hurriedly eating a morning snack we went to the gate. That is when things started going wrong. We were delayed ½ an hour. No big deal we wait at gate and we had over 2 hours to make our connection in Amsterdam. That is when the gate agent told me we might as well go back to the lounge this could take a while. Ruh roh!

broken cityhopper klm jet klm gothenburg sweden delta points blog

We did go back to the lounge but decided to check back after a while and see what was up. What started as a quick delay turned into delay after delay after delay with not much information from the gate agents.

food vouchers we could not use due to delayed klm flight

After almost 2 hours we were told the problem was mechanical, that is, there was an issue with a window in the cockpit and they were replacing parts and testing and would let us know. After almost 3 hours we were handed the tiny above food vouchers, but at this point they announced the problem was fixed and we were told we would be boarding immediately so there was no time to spend them.

klm compensation page

Bottom line we departed over 3 hours late and ended up arriving, after much frustration getting those flights done, over 5 hours late into LAX our final destination. Those joys I will cover in another post but for now this is all about my question to you. You see, since we were over 3 hours delayed departing AND over 5+ hours later arriving I filed a claim for 600 EUROs each for our delay with KLM. Delta was the one to respond to me and told me this:

“Thanks for reaching out to us about your recent travel experience with KLM from Goteborg to Amsterdam. I’m sorry that your flight was delayed causing you to arrival over 5 hours later than originally scheduled into Los Angeles. I wish you and Lisa would’ve had a better experience.

Your travel falls under the guidelines of European Union Regulation (EC) 261/2004 defining an airline’s requirements when flight changes occur. Our records show KLM Flight 1152 on November 4, 2014 from Goteborg to Amsterdam was delayed for 2 hours and 49 minutes due to technical reasons. After the maintenance issues was identified, repairs commenced so the flight could continue on.

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I’ve reviewed your claim and we must respectfully decline your request for cash compensation; according to Regulation (EC) 261/2004, airline passengers are not entitled to compensation in case of delays less than 3 hours. While we understand this has caused an inconvenience, as a goodwill gesture, I’m adding 20,000 bonus miles to your SkyMiles accounts. They should be transferred into your accounts within three business days.

As a loyal customer your feedback is always welcomed, as it helps make our service better. Through your experiences we’re able to identify areas that need additional attention. I’ve passed your comments directly to the appropriate KLM Leadership, so they can consider your experience when making changes to improve our service.” – Delta Air Lines Customer Care

Now I do like how Delta feels we are on a first name basis rather than calling me Mr. de Lambert, but on to the email. Delta agrees I was delayed more than 5 hours on arrival but seems to say we left the airport 11 minutes shy of 3 hours late. I can tell you they did not close the door till after 9:30AM by my watch. Either way this may be the reason they were RUSHING us aboard all of a sudden at close to the 3 hour delay mark. Next, I am rather insulted by the 20,000 Skymiles as Delta is basically offering us $200 each to go away.

So what should I do next? I leave it up to you. Please vote in the poll below and tell me what I should do next. I will let you, the reader, tell me the next course of action! – René

My EU (EC) 261/2004 claim with Delta / KLM - You decide for me what to do next?!?

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17 comments

  1. That’s a really tough call. Delta showed goodwill by giving you 20K mile each although they say the flight left earlier than the 3 hour rule.

    While I voted for you to take it to the next level, I don’t see how you will win unless you can prove that the flight did indeed leave 3 hours late…

    Either way, good luck!

  2. This occurs quite often where they forget that EU rules apply to arrival to the final destination.

    A quick reply stating you agree flight 1 was under the 3 hour threshold, as EU rules, a mechanical delay causing a misconnect and arrival over 5 hours at your final destination is due payment of €600.

  3. In a recent (04/09/2014) Germanwings GmbH v. Ronny Henning (C-452/13) decision, the ECJ ruled that:

    ” Articles 2, 5 and 7 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91, must be interpreted as meaning that the concept of ‘arrival time’, which is used to determine the length of the delay to which passengers on a flight have been subject, refers to the time at which at least one of the doors of the aircraft is opened, the assumption being that, at that moment, the passengers are permitted to leave the aircraft. ”

    Departure time is, therefore, irrelevant, as is landing time. The only thing that matters is when the plane door was open on arrival.

  4. The key measurable is the arrival, not the delay. So by the fact they are misleading you (deliberately or not), you are a textbook case of when the customer is entitled to compensation.

    Claim the money plus additional “administrative fees”. Teach them a lesson.

  5. I had a somewhat similar experience in Sept. I had the earliest flight out of Stockholm — the lounge opens so late one can actually only get about 15 minutes in there, maybe 25 if you don’t care about overhead bin space — before KLM begins boarding the first flight of the morning to Amsterdam from Arlanda. When I arrived in Amsterdam, I was informed at the lounge that the Delta flight home was oversold. I went to the gate and that was indeed the case. I gave up my seat and was given a Business Elite seat on a later flight but not out of Amsterdam. It departed from Heathrow. I couldn’t get a boarding pass I was told in Amsterdam. I was given a ticket for a KLM flight to get me to London Heathrow. This meant I was delayed a good three or four hours, at least, with all things considered. I should have been suspicious because KLM was unable to print me a travel voucher in Amsterdam. Anyways, when I arrived in London, the issues started. My BusinessElite seat wasn’t valid. Apparently, an upgrade like this is only valid in the original airport, not a new one. So I was downgraded to coach-class. They also wouldn’t print me the travel voucher. I called Delta, but Delta’s agents on the phone claimed they couldn’t do anything. I complained, complained and complained again. Finally, they found a Delta red jacket for me in London. She tried, but her London supervisor wouldn’t let her give me a BusinessElite seat, at least that’s what she claimed. She did, however, give me an entire row of Economy Comfort seats. Needless to say, when I arrived back in the United States, I finally an immediate complaint with Delta. Within a couple of days, they wrote back, apologized and informed me I would be getting a check for over 600 euros because of EU regulations regarding delayed travel. That was quite nice. I didn’t even ask for that compensation. I did exchange several e-mails, but was never able to get them to give me the travel voucher nor a voucher or certificate for a future BusinessElite one-way or round-trip flight. They pretty much refused to honor this because they had just given me a check for a lot of money.

  6. Oh yeah, the whole first name-thing. I think Delta is trying out an experiment because half of the time of late it’s “Mr. So and So” and the other half of the time it’s “First Name.” This is true for e-mail, telephone, gate agents, etc. It’s my guess they did some study and found casual Americans prefer first name OR their staff can’t pronounce the last names. My colleague thinks it might be because of political correctness with LGBT issues (Delta is huge on gay stuff) with a particular emphasis on T.

  7. Tough call. It depends on how they define “departed” under the EU rules. Is it when the door closes as in the US? Is it wheels up? Then you have the problem of PROVING that that time was more than 3 hours. Do you have definitive proof? And if you don’t, then they will go by whatever the airline records show was the departure time. And I know that at least here in the US, DL employees “fudge” on the departure time because there are bonuses and penalties for on time departure and late departure (think VA system – where there were bonuses for seeing patients on time — and the result was people lied, just to not get in trouble and/or to get bonuses). So can you prove it left 3+ hours late? So apparently the people in Sweden covered themselves and the records show only a delay of slightly less than 3 hours. Now do you have PROOF of when you landed? If indeed there is a 5 hour delay rule for landing and you have concrete proof of that, I would go back at them for the 600 EU. But what I don’t understand is why DL is the responsible party, and you are aren’t dealing with KLM, the party responsible for the delay?

  8. @scott. Haha, I don’t think they “forget” that the rules apply to the final destination, I think they are deliberately trying to avoid paying the cash compensation. They view this as a negotiation rather than compliance with the law. If the customer takes the first offer of 20k miles, the airline is better off. If not and they are pressed more, they will have to pay the cash. It would be interested to see how many valid compensation claims actually get fulfilled. I think it takes a very informed consumer to realize what they are entitled to. It is all just a game to the airline. Let’s hope Rene gets his 600E and gets to keep the 20k miles.
    This also seems like a good subject for a class action lawsuit. The airline has all of the data and should know which customers are entitled to compensation without the customer needing to ask. There are probably tens of thousands of consumers over the years who were due compensation, but didn’t know to ask.

  9. @All – Thank you so much for all in the input so far and for voting. It seems like I do have a case from all your input and reading the rules and if the vote goes that I should press on I will. – Rene

  10. Push the issue. The measurement is arrival not departure time. Delta is not training their people to follow the rules. Delta will not ensure that their people learn and follow the rules unless and until you force the issue.

    Delta lives by the rule. If you arrive 2 hours and 59 minutes late you get nothing – and you are entitled to nothing. But delta can’t have it both ways. If you live by the rule you also die by the rules.

    Giving 20,000 skymiles is irrelevant. Yes it is possible to assign a value to them – but Delta throws miles at any complaint. 20,000 miles has essentially zero value to Delta. A fair compromise would have been to offer a $500 Delta credit. Had they done that it would have had real value.

    Push the issue. And then publicize the results. You are a blogger and are known to Delta. If they don’t treat you right imagine how they treat the average passenger.

  11. I know you have said numerous times – but what are the domestic rules? My husband was scheduled to fly MCI-SLC-PSP. The flight was several hours late because of a mechanical issue so he only flew the MCI-SLC segment Sunday night, spent the night at SLC without luggage and then had to fly to John Wayne and drive the hour to Palm Springs. As this was a business trip, he had to get there any way possible and he’s not one to cause a fuss but I’m curious what he should have pressed for.

  12. @Christine – Keep in mind the USA is not the EU. Here, this country had to enact rules to fine the airlines for locking us in a metal tube with no food and water for more than 3hrs without the option to get off! There are NO real “rules” other than they have to try to get you point A to B or give you money back.

  13. we were delayed last year for over 7 hours in leaving Johannesburg.
    Do we have any recourse?
    Its been almost 13 months since this happened.
    I didnt know we could be compensated.
    KLM refused to talk to me
    Delta tried to throw points at me too

  14. Rene as I shared before I was successful after doing my research but had to fight it explain and document. Your issue is not when the plane left but when that leg lands. If your flight is 1500km or less it is 2 hours late or more you can claim 125 to 250 euro each. If flight more than 1500km with in EU then 3+ hours for 400e

    If it was a EU to US flight over 3500km then it is 300-600.

    So did you land more than 3hrs on first leg? How far was it?

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