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I had a flight with an airline company with one stop. The first flight was delayed more than 3 hours because of the crew cabin of the airline company, two of them have left the airplane and the ground crew announced that the crew cabin is sick and I was at the airport from 15h55 to 21h45.

I arrived at the connection airport at 00h00 rather than 19h35 and I found that my second flight was cancelled. I was standing in a very long queue more than 3 hours without reaching the ground crew, because there were only two ground crew and there were many passengers standing in the queue. Then I was offered a flight on the next day with a ticket for dinner at 03h30 and I spent the night at the airport and not at the hotel without my medicines that were in my checked luggage.

Once arrived to my final destination, my checked luggage was not there, and they contacted me the next day to came back to the airport to get my luggage back because this airline company does not deliver in my country.

This delay made me late from my work and I missed important meeting. I asked them to be fully reimbursed and compensated for:

1- The delay of the flight more than 09 hours. 2- Cancellation of the second flight. 3- The time spent at the two airports without food and medicines. 4- The night I spent at the airport. 5- The important meeting that I missed. 6- The incident that was happened to my checked luggage.

but their answer was:

En ce qui concerne votre demande d'indemnisation, la compagnie a procédé à une analyse approfondie de votre cas, laquelle relève du champ d'application du règlement (CE) n° 261/2004 et de la jurisprudence d'application établie par la Cour de justice de l'Union européenne.

Néanmoins, dans ce cas, nous devons malheureusement vous informer qu’aucune indemnisation financière n'est due car le retard de votre vol est due à une circonstance étrangère à la compagnie. En effet il a été provoqué par une grève externe de prestataires de services au sol qui ne sont pas des employés de la compagnie.

L’emploi de ces prestataires ne faisant pas partie de la gestion normale de notre compagnie, la grève échappait donc totalement à notre contrôle, n’ayant aucune influence ni aucun rôle à jouer dans les négociations de ces prestataires et avec leur employeur.

À cet égard, l’exception des « circonstances extraordinaires », énoncées dans l’article 5.3 du règlement et dans la doctrine de la CJCE, est justifiée.

En raison de la nature de cet évènement, la compagnie n'a pas été en mesure d'éviter l'incident en question étant causé par des circonstances imprévisibles et inévitables indépendantes de notre volonté. Par conséquent, la compagnie n'a pas pu appliquer des mesures supplémentaires pour tenter de minimiser les inconvénients.

what can I do to be compensated?


Approximate English translation:

Regarding your claim for compensation, the company has conducted a thorough analysis of your case, which falls until rule CE 261/2004 and case law established by the EU Court of Justice.

Unfortunately, we must inform you that no compensation is due since the delay of your flight was due to a circumstance beyond the airline's control. It was effectively caused by an external strike by ground service providers who are not employed by the company.

As these service providers are not employed by the company, the strike was completely out of our control; we had no influence and played no role in the negotiations between these service providers and their employer.

Because of this, the exception of "extraordinary circumstances", outlined in Article 5.3 of the rule and in the case law of the EU Court of Justice, is justified.

Due to the nature of this event, the company was not able to avoid the incident, which was caused by unforeseeable, unavoidable circumstances outside of our control. As a result, the company was unable to employ additional measures in order to minimize the inconvenience.

  • 3
    What airline what that, and what where the origin and destination cities? – jcaron Oct 5 at 21:57
  • Also, what were the original schedules of the flight, and what were the actual times of arrival of each? And what was the reason for the cancellation of the second flight? – jcaron Oct 6 at 12:23
  • first flight from 17:55 to 19:35 ... second flight from 21:40 to 22:00 (local time of destination). Therefore, even if the second flight was not cancelled, it was not possible to made the second flight. – user104387 Oct 6 at 12:32
  • I dont know the reason of the cancellation of the second flight – user104387 Oct 6 at 12:36
  • Getting separated from checked luggage is relatively common. I recommend packing a carry-on to cover for a couple of days - medications, a change of clothing, and work related materials needed for the next two days. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 20 at 23:44
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Under EC261, there are two different things an airline may owe you:

  • Care and assistance. This is something that they can't get out of unless there are really very, very special circumstances (think a volcano erupts). This includes meals, hotels (and associated transfers) if there's an overnight stay, communication... They should have provided an hotel room for you in this situation. However, it's unclear what recourse you have if you didn't get it at the time (if you paid for a hotel, they have to reimburse you, within limits, but if you didn't...).

  • Compensation for delays. Here, you were very clearly delayed enough at your final destination (that's all that counts) to qualify for compensation (a few hundred euros, the exact amount depends on the distance between origin and destination airports), unless there are extraordinary circumstances. Cabin crew being sick are not extraordinary circumstances. Strikes by airlines personnel aren't either. Surprise strikes of third parties may be extraordinary circumstances, as well as strikes by ATC personnel. Strikes of third parties known in advance aren't. So you would need to ascertain what exactly happened, as they seem to present a different story.

However, as you had a connection, and there were issues on both flights, it will be difficult to determine which of the issues are considered the cause of the final delay: the initial delay on the first flight, or the cancellation of the second one. This can be quite tricky to resolve.

Many (most?) airlines will try to get out of EC261 compensation through any means (we have had some sordid examples around here). Sadly, the way to get compensation (if you are indeed owed compensation) once they refuse your initial request is quite complex. In some cases there may be a designated Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) party designated by the airline, which may help streamline the process. Otherwise, you will have to complain to the relevant national authority, which usually has very little teeth, or through the courts, which will take time and money (as you should hire a lawyer if you want to have any chance against the airline).

It would help if you could determine what the exact circumstances were (for both flights). News reports about a strike (or the absence thereof), records of departures/arrivals at the same airports, etc. would help. If you are convinced your case has merit, then you can go ahead, otherwise it's probably a waste of time. One simple solution is to use the services of one of the many companies that will fight this for you in exchange for a commission (usually around 30% of the compensation). They have a lot of experience with this and will be able to tell you if the case has any chance to be won. The other solutions are usually more complex.

Regarding your list of complaints:

1- The delay of the flight more than 09 hours.

2- Cancellation of the second flight.

These two are one and the same, really. For EC261 compensation, the only thing that counts is how late you were at the final destination.

3- The time spent at the two airports without food and medicines.

4- The night I spent at the airport.

See above about food and hotel. They were definitely in breach of their obligations here. What kind of compensation you can get is unclear.

Not having your medicines will not be considered by anyone. It is your own responsibility to have the required medicines and take into account possible delays. You should never, ever have required medicines in your checked luggage if you may need them within 48 hours. Flight delays and cancellations do happen for many reasons, luggage gets delayed, misrouted or lost every day. You can't blame the airline (or anyone, really) if you don't have required medication for at least 48 hours at hand at all times.

5- The important meeting that I missed.

6- The incident that was happened to my checked luggage.

EC261 does not provide for those. You may want to examine compensation under the Montreal Convention. Usually this is much, much less useful than EC261, but you never know. I'm quite surprised by the fact he airline didn't deliver directly to your home/hotel/work.

  • thank you for your response. For the care and assistance, I arrived to the airport at 00h00 and I was standing in a very long queue more than 3 hours, than a ground crew gave me a ticked for a flight at 5h55 and a ticked for dinner at the airport since it remains only about 3 hours for the flight . Regarding the reason of the delay, we saw two crews cabin get out of the airplane and the ground crew trying to talk with them and then the ground crew of the airline company announce that the reason is that the crew cabin is sick and for the second one he did not give the reason. – user104387 Oct 6 at 8:15
  • There are exceptions to the hotel rule if indeed it would add even further delay, which seems to be the case here. You haven’t specified what the original and final times were. From what you wrote, it seems that even if the first flight was late, you would have made the second flight if it hadn’t been cancelled. If that is the case, only the reason for the delay of the second flight is important. – jcaron Oct 6 at 12:22
  • first flight from 17:55 to 19:35 ... second flight from 21:40 to 22:00 (local time of destination). Therefore, even if the second flight was not cancelled, it was not possible to made the second flight. – user104387 Oct 6 at 12:26
  • Without knowing the airline, the routes, and the airports...we're just guessing. – DavidSupportsMonica Oct 6 at 16:26
  • According to the airline, the cause of the delay was a surprise ("imprévisible") third-party strike; see the rough translation I edited in to the question. – Michael Seifert Oct 21 at 0:30

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