When one puts in a claim for compensation under EU 261/2004 and the airline refuses to pay out (e.g. stating exceptional circumstances) what recourse does the traveller have? Is there a higher authority to take the claim to (like a tribunal or the like?)

  • This depends on your country. Many countries have some sort of aviation authority which has an ombudsman for such cases. Alternatively small claims court or similar. – dunni Sep 17 '19 at 20:57
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    I would simply ask a lawyer to do the job. I believe there are quite a few that specialise on flight compensation claims and work with conditional fees (no win no fee). A quote from such a lawyer could also be a good indicator on your chances of winning the claim. – life-on-mars Sep 17 '19 at 22:03

You can use the EU261 complaint form to submit a complaint to the relevant National Competent Authority as given from the link at the bottom of the Air Passenger Rights page.

Note the following text on the bottom of the 'Instructions' part of the complaint form however:

Please note that the competent authorities of Member States cannot in general take binding decisions on airlines in respect of individual complaints. If you are still not satisfied with the airline's response, even following the answer from the competent authority, you will have to pursue the matter in Court or through alternative dispute resolution.

Ultimately, your final recourse is through a relevant court or dispute tribunal process, which will depend on the countries and airlines involved. That doesn't really answer your question, but there are 28 EU countries plus associated other countries which enforce EU261, so a full list of the processes is out of the scope of this site - the Law StackExchange may help however.

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    This other EU website lists some more details, especially that "The national authority should provide you with a non-binding legal opinion on how to proceed with your claim." and that you can go to court via the unified European Small Claims Procedure (unless you're in Denmark). – TooTea Sep 17 '19 at 21:57
  • @TooTea feel free to edit that in, or add your own answer and I will upvote. – Moo Sep 17 '19 at 22:04

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