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A European airline just announced that my intercontinental flight to Europe will depart 3.5 hours later than originally planned, leading to a different connecting flight with an arrival at final destination 8.5 hours later than originally planned. They announced that less than three days before departure.

The airline now asks me in an email whether I'm accepting this change or whether I want to travel at a different date (absolutely not possible for me).

What can I expect regarding my passenger rights? Do I forfeit my rights for compensation by sending my acceptance of these changes? Am I entitled to compensation at all?

  • which airline was this ??? – Fattie Aug 13 at 10:54
  • As the flight is still upcoming, I prefer to not disclose the airline at this point. In any case, the question is independent of this, as the regulation applies to any airline operating from/to EU. – stefan Aug 13 at 14:09
  • @stefan Incorrect. EC261 only applies if a) it's an EU airline or b) you're departing the EU. If flying to Europe, it must be an EU (or EFTA) airline – Crazydre Aug 13 at 16:26
  • Fair enough, but in this case, as stated, it is a airline based in the EU. – stefan Aug 13 at 19:38
  • @stefan All good then :) I agree with the posted answer. Don't accept any travel vouchers, that's all (meal vouchers are fine though). If the airline rejects your claim for compo, the next step is the NEB in the EU country you're flying to. – Crazydre Aug 14 at 0:44
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No, you don't forfeit your rights.

They notified you, so you can now cancel your travel (if the delay makes it no longer useful, full refund) or just, now you are informed, so you can plan the arrival better (e.g. cancelling or notify the hotel, transport, etc.). I really like when the airline notifies me in advance.

If you accept, you are still entitled to compensation. Or you can phone them, and ask for an alternate arrangement (in this case you will not get compensation, but may if you negotiate). By phone, you may also negotiate more compensation, maybe lounge access at the transfer airport, if you have a long layover. But make it clear that this is extra to the compensation. Be nice. On the phone (and email) you have just employees which are not responsible to the delay, and they could just become "robots" with their answers, if you are aggressive. So by being nice, you may get more willingness from their part, to help you further (unfortunately, this depends also on previous calls [not by you]).

If you don't confirm, there is risk that they think you will not travel, so you have more probability to be one of the overbooked passengers, so eventually more delays can occur (but after 8.5h delays, there is no additional compensation, just compensation for long delays), but for the care [hotel, food they need to provide you].

So I would phone, and tell them I'm not totally happy, and I would ask for a way to make the travel better, but I'll still ask for compensation (but if the extra perks they give me are more valuable).

EDIT: some more information

Note: It is August 2020, and you got a notice only 3 days before the travel. So for me, this is just an operational reason, nothing about last minute emergency or COVID uncertainty. Airlines probably will argue differently, but just keeping arguing, they just try to filter out the less motivated people.

Regulations https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32004R0261&from=EN (sorry, the HTML format sucks a lot).

Article 5 tells you about the right of compensation. You have a reroute, but you were informed less than 7 days before departure (and you will arrive later then 2 hours after your booked flight).

Article 15 is about the waiver, so just by confirming you doesn't waive anything. They should really make clear your rights and that you don't waiver your rights (e.g. with extra perks). This is not the case with normal notice of delay.

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  • Thank you for your reply, Giacomo. Do you have a resource (such as EU law) that makes this case clear or are you speaking from experience only? – stefan Aug 12 at 10:49
  • EU passenger right has information about compensation because of delays (they depends on how in advance they tell you, IIRC before 14 day, you have right just for full refund). it is not the best site to navigate (you get repeated only the more frequent cases, you should dig for the details). – Giacomo Catenazzi Aug 12 at 11:40
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    @stefan: I added a link and a comment of the two relevant articles. – Giacomo Catenazzi Aug 12 at 11:54
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    makes it no more useful: I believe you mean "makes it useless" or "makes it no longer useful"; "no more useful" means "not more useful than before". – chrylis -cautiouslyoptimistic- Aug 12 at 23:50
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    It's worth pointing out that one of your rights is to cancel and receive a full refund. However airlines frequently don't point that out (they didn't seem to in your case). Know this allows you some leverage in negotiations, as airlines really, really don't want to give you your money back. – DJClayworth Aug 13 at 13:25

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