How I Missed Compensation for a Delayed Flight — Reader Mistake Story
Today, I want to share a story from TPG reader Lara, who learned a costly lesson about documenting flight delays. Here’s what she had to say:
My partner and I recently traveled in August to London and Scotland on British Airways. On our return trip, we left London Heathrow a little over an hour late due to electronics that had to be rebooted several times. This put us late into Chicago and caused us to miss our connection to Denver, so British Airways put us up in a hotel and comped our meals, and we took the next flight out in the morning.
After we returned home, I was reading an article about compensation for delayed flights in the UK. If your flight has been delayed by at least three hours or canceled, then you have the right to compensation of up to 600 euros under European law. Our flight qualified since it departed from the UK, and while we only arrived two hours late to Chicago, the missed connection meant our total delay was 13 hours, so I filed a claim with British Airways.
I provided all the required information from our itinerary (reservation numbers, flight numbers, ticket numbers, etc.) until it came to the rebooked flight. British Airways only gave us paper boarding passes, so we didn't have electronic records of the flight information or our ticket numbers. We weren't aware of the EU delayed flight compensation, so we didn't save those boarding passes after the flight. As a result, we missed out on about $700 per person.
Let this be a lesson to your readers: save your boarding passes for any delayed flights that fly through European airports!
The European Union has strong protections for delayed passengers, but you'll likely need documentation to avail yourself of them. Until you (and your belongings) reach your final destination, I recommend saving all boarding passes, baggage tickets, receipts and other relevant information that could support a claim on your part, whether that's to your airline or your credit card issuer. It's a good practice even if you anticipate a smooth trip, but if you prefer not to keep all those papers, a digital version may suffice.
Airlines don't always comply with these regulations in a timely manner. If you're having trouble getting your carrier to pay up, consider asking for help from someone who has experience with the process. Services like AirHelp and EUclaim can guide you through it and do some of the legwork for a cut (usually 25%) of your compensation. They only get paid once your claim is approved, so it's a low-risk option in case your own efforts are stymied.
I appreciate this story, and I hope it can help other readers avoid making the same mistake. To thank Lara for sharing her experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending her a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I'd like to do the same for you. Please email your own travel mistake stories to firstname.lastname@example.org, and put "Reader Mistake Story" in the subject line. Tell us how things went wrong, and (where applicable) how you made them right. Offer any wisdom you gained from the experience, and explain what the rest of us can do to avoid the same pitfalls.
Feel free to also submit your best travel success stories. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. I look forward to hearing from you, and until then, I wish you a safe and mistake-free journey!