I recently took an international flight booked through United from the US to the EU and back (with a connecting flight both ways) and on the way back they lost our ticket/reservation and we missed our original flights and arrived almost 12 hours later than originally scheduled.

I'm wondering what laws/regulations are in place to protect and compensate passengers who were caused to miss flights due to issues that are the fault of the airlines.

I've read up as much as I can on EU and US transportation rights but I'm having trouble finding explicit sections that support amounts of compensation and was hoping to get some help on people that might have more experience here.

I looked at the Involuntary Bumping section here, which seems good, but the more references I have the better.

  • 1
    "Involuntary bumping" is only relevant if you're bumped because the flight is overbooked. That's not what happened to you, so that section is not relevant here. The US generally doesn't have many laws requiring passenger compensation and I don't think it mandates any compensation in your case. The EU might be different. Jun 19, 2018 at 18:38
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    It matters which airline, please edit and add. Jun 19, 2018 at 18:49
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    @KarolyS You say first that United "lost our ticket/reservation" (e.g. you tried to check in but they couldn't find your ticket at first) but then suggest the flight was overbooked (e.g. you did not previously secure a seat assignment, and then all seats were taken by the time you went to check in). These are different scenarios with potentially different remedies.
    – choster
    Jun 19, 2018 at 18:59
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    If "losing" a reservation has fewer consequences for the airline than involuntary bumping, this gives the airlines a potentially strong incentive to "accidentally lose" some reservations on overbooked flights.
    – WBT
    Jun 19, 2018 at 23:13
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    @KarolyS; What makes you so certain that they "straight up lost" your ticket rather than simply bumped you off due to overbooking? You keep asserting that is what happened, but you haven't described what you actually personally observed to reach that conclusion (which in this age sounds rather extraordinary compared to a run-of-the-mill overbooking scenario). Jun 20, 2018 at 10:30

1 Answer 1


As your flight originated in the EU, the rules of Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 (EU261) apply.

If there are no other issues which may be your fault (arriving too late at the airport for instance), or extraordinary circumstances (a strike by ATC staff for instance), a delay of 12 hours means the airline owes you a compensation of €400 (if the distance was up to 3500 km) or €600 (above 3500 km).

Check the details of the regulation of exceptions and limitations.

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