I was packing my suitcase the morning of my afternoon flight when I received a notification from United Airlines that my flight was delayed by 245 minutes due to a late inbound aircraft arrival. I had booked a nonstop flight from Washington D.C. to Munich, Germany, arriving at Franz Josef Strauss Airport right around the same time as a friend who was flying in from another country, so a delay was far from ideal and also, just plain irritating (get it, plane irritating?!). Furthermore, getting into Munich nearly 5 hours later than I had originally planned completely threw off my itinerary.
I first tweeted United Airlines expressing my dismay and was surprised when they replied. I always appreciate great customer service so knowing my feedback wasn’t lost in the Twittersphere and that United was actively monitoring their account gave them bonus points in an otherwise frustrating situation.
I then called United Airlines and a representative was able to rebook my reservation to a Lufthansa flight at no cost. It wasn’t the ideal resolution as my flight now left two hours earlier than my original flight and I had a layover but I was able to arrive into Munich the same time as my original flight would have. I realize my hiccup was tiny compared to travelers who arrive at the airport only to be delayed for hours or end up staying at an airport hotel until they can get a flight out the following day.
Flight tip: In the event you are involuntarily bumped from an overbooked U.S. flight, accepting a voucher offered by the airline makes you ineligible to receive a cash payment. Take the cash!
Many people are unaware that under European law, passengers whose flights from Europe are delayed by at least three hours or canceled are eligible for up to about $825 (depending on the length of delay and distance of the flight). Flights to Europe and within Europe on an European Union-based carrier are also subject to European Union law.
In the United States, you can claim up to $1,300 if you’re involuntarily bumped from a flight that’s oversold. You can submit claims that are up to three years old.
How? European fliers can find forms at individual airlines or through the European Union, and U.S. forms can be accessed through the Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Division. Or websites such as AirHelp and refund.me can easily help you determine if you have a claim and deal with all of the messy paperwork for a percentage of your claim.