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I had a confirmed ticket for a Eurowings flight from Lyon Saint-Exupery to Düsseldorf. I went to the airport well ahead of time, checked in, received my boarding pass, cleared security and was at the boarding gate well ahead of the stated cutoff time.

The flight was scheduled to depart from Lyon at 2030h. However, 15 minutes prior to departure, we were told that the flight had been cancelled due to technical reasons. I wasn't able to find out the exact nature of the issue. I wasn't advised of my rights, nor was I offered meal vouchers, or anything of the like. I was booked into a hotel for the night in the airport, the costs for this being borne by Eurowings. The hotel did not have anything that could be called a meal. They had some crisps and a bowl of fruits, far from what can be termed as a meal.

The next day I contacted Eurowings over phone to figure out a way to get back home. The alternative flights offered to me were either fully booked or extremely inconvenient to me. Thus, I travelled back to Düsseldorf at my own expense via train, and also incurred additional costs for coffee and lunch over the course of this journey. Am I eligible for reimbursement for these extra expenses (train tickets, lunch and coffee). Furthermore, can I file for compensation in addition to the aforementioned expenses? Does filing for reimbursement of additional expenses preclude any claim for compensation?

EDIT 1: Adding some explanations on what I mean by "extremely inconvenient". I am a non-EU national. The flights offered to me were via London, Istanbul and Munich. I was reluctant to fly out of the Schengen area because I wanted to avoid having to go through border control. The lines can get quite long in some places. Nonetheless, I agreed to travel via London. However, the Eurowings agent I spoke to on the phone told me she could not place me on that flight for reasons I don't know of. With Istanbul, it was the same reason, I wanted to avoid flying out of the Schengen area. Add to it a flying time of a little more than 3hours, and the fact that the flight to Istanbul was only one hour away when I was provided this option. I wasn't sure I would clear border control and security checks within this short span of time. Munich would have put me in Düsseldorf at 0600h the following day, with a night spent at the airport. The only direct flight was four days later, which would have affected my work.

EDIT 2: Adding some more information on why I decided to take a train I also asked for connections that would take me close to Düsseldorf, namely, Cologne, Berlin, and Frankfurt. Eurowings was unable to book me on flight to any of these destinations.

EDIT 3: I received the compensation for the delayed flight and the reimbursement for the mode of travel and the expenses incurred for coffee and lunch. Surprisingly, the claim was accepted within three weeks of my request.

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    Note that Eurowings, being the low-cost carrier of Lufthansa, is not necessarily forthcoming with compensations and such, even if you have a right to them. You may have to insist and threaten them with lawyers.
    – Tom
    Jul 31, 2023 at 10:05
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    @Tom let me correct you. Note that Eurowings, being an airline, is not necessarily forthcoming with compensations and such, even if you have a right to them. You may have to insist and threaten them with lawyers.
    – EarlGrey
    Jul 31, 2023 at 14:02
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    Can you define "extremely inconvenient"? I would think that I was expecting to be home before midnight on Saturday night, and lay about the house recovering on Sunday but the new flight didn't depart until 2330 is quite different than, I needed to be home Tuesday night so I could be at work Wednesday morning, but the new flight wouldn't have gotten me home until Wednesday afternoon. Some of this difference may impact the options noted in the two answers provided so far.
    – FreeMan
    Jul 31, 2023 at 16:22
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    @FreeMan I agree; if there's an objective need to be back by a certain time, that certainly strengthens your case.
    – Crazydre
    Jul 31, 2023 at 21:17
  • @EarlGrey by my experience, the full-price airlines like Lufthansa are considerably more customer-friendly in this regard then the low-cost carriers. Might be a left-over from older times, or their understanding that the main reason they can charge higher prices is better customer service.
    – Tom
    Aug 1, 2023 at 5:41

2 Answers 2

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Yes, you can get reimbursement of ALL expenses, as well as EUR 250 in compensation. Hopefully you didn't consent to a refund of the original ticket, which could make getting the expenses back awkward.

Claim from Eurowings at https://www.eurowings.com/en/4u/online-service-for-the-right-to-compensation.html

If they deny any part of your claim claiming extraordinary circumstances, tell them you've already been informed it was due to technical issues, which aren't extraordinary circumstances. Tell them that if they don't confirm full payment within 7 days, you'll escalate further. You can do this at https://droits-passagers-aeriens.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/public/signalement?new-signalement=true

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    +1 for the links and details on how technical issues are handled but are you sure the OP can legitimately claim reimbursement for their train travel? I guess it could depend a bit on how inconvenient alternative flights really were but Eurowings did offer transportation to Düsseldorf.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 30, 2023 at 21:19
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    True, I'm taking OP's word for it when they say "extremely inconvenient". But yes @pseudomonas, when was the first available flight? And how could they have offered fully booked flights? Doesn't quite add up, so can you please clarify
    – Crazydre
    Jul 30, 2023 at 21:30
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    May also be helpful to know if when the OP phoned Eurowings, he/she informed the airline of the intention to arrange train travel
    – Traveller
    Jul 30, 2023 at 23:46
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    @Traveller That would certainly be an advantage; yet, if they failed to offer re-routing on the same or next day, they have next to no case IMO/IME
    – Crazydre
    Jul 31, 2023 at 10:30
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    @Crazydre No, I did not agree to a refund of the original ticket. In fact, we were not informed about our rights at all. I think a bunch of us would have been left stranded in the airport close to midnight, since the situation after the flight was cancelled was chaotic and badly managed. It was only after a bunch of people, including me were getting increasingly anxious due the the lack of any updates, that we found someone who looked in-charge of the mess, and asked them to provide us overnight accommodation Aug 1, 2023 at 13:32
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Under the relevant EU regulation, you are entitled to three separate things:

  • Right to care: basically meals, hotel, and transportation to the hotel. Meal could have been better but the airline does not seem to have denied you this right. If you were forced to pay for your meal, you could ask Eurowings to reimburse you but if I am reading you correctly there simply wasn't any food to be had beyond crisps and fruit. One commenter also note that it was arguably past dinner time.

  • Right to reimbursement or re-routing: Eurowings seems to have offered a solution but, importantly, you are always free to choose reimbursement or travel at a later date if the next available flight is not convenient for you.

    Obviously they should also inform you of this and since you chose to refuse the flight they offered, they should at least agree to reimburse your original Lyon-Düsseldorf ticket. Alternatively, if you push for them to pay your train ticket, you would forgo that reimbursement. It's up to you to decide what's easiest to claim or more advantageous.

  • Compensation: For Lyon-Düsseldorf, you are entitled to €250 per person unless the carrier “can prove that the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken”. If compensation applies, it's completely separate from the right to care and the right to reimbursement or re-routing and should be paid within 7 days. So it should in principle already be paid while you are figuring out what to do with the other claims.

As far as the regulation is concerned, you don't generally have the right to choose any arbitrary way to go to your destination and the idea is that the airline, not the passengers, is in charge or organising it. Since you were offered transportation to Düsseldorf, I don't see how you could claim reimbursement for a completely different means of transportation and the meals resulting from that but there is a discussion in the comments about what counts as a suitable re-routing so it might still be worth trying.

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    I’m not sure I agree with you on not being able to claim reimbursement of the train trip. One is entitled to the first available re-routing, not necessarily on a flight from the same airline. I’m not sure this would preclude travel by train (airlines often reroute passengers on buses…). But of course, it would be either refund OR reimbursement of the alternative travel, not both.
    – jcaron
    Jul 30, 2023 at 21:42
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    @jcaron That's not what the regulation says, the airline is supposed to re-route you at the earliest opportunity and under comparable conditions. Now, if they leave you completely stranded, I believe you can indeed claim reimbursement instead but it's not a right to go and arrange any means of transportation by yourself or insist on the next available flight no matter what.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 30, 2023 at 21:52
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    @Relaxed I've reclaimed for overland travel many times with zero fuss whenever the airline has failed to re-route me at a suitable time. It's always the compensation they get difficult about (fraudulently claiming extraordinry circumstances)
    – Crazydre
    Jul 31, 2023 at 10:28
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    @JackAidley Had a couple of 2+ hour delays on Ryanair, and they've never fussed about reimbursing me for a GBP 11,18 Burger King meal
    – Crazydre
    Jul 31, 2023 at 10:29
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    @pseudomonas Fair enough, that strengthens your case. Tell Eurowings 1) you were offered the Istanbul flight at 09:00 and didn't reasonably expect to be able to catch it at 10:00 due to queues (DON'T mention your misbelief about visas); 2) you accepted the London route but they were unable to book it without clear explanation; 3) thus, you rerouted yourself by train
    – Crazydre
    Aug 1, 2023 at 13:56

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