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Last year I had a flight with a Portuguese company which was delayed for one and a half day. At first they provided proper accommodation and I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. The second day however, I felt like being lied to constantly, due to frequent changing excuses for the delay. From technical issue to weather issues, back to technical issues. It was here where I decided to test the EU regulations for compensation after delay.

At first I tried EU Claim. They stated that they work on a no cure no pay base. But after filling in the details I got the message that although I was eligible for compensation they would not be able to help me since they have power over Portugal.

I then resorted to a company called "Vluchtvertraagd.nl" (Dutch for "Flight delayed"). They offer a very nice service where all the letters you are supposed to sent, are generated according to templates provided to you through a time line. I am impressed by their system. It all looks nice. You pay a fee for around 25 euro's for their service.

So far I have been following their suggestions and sent the needed letters to either the airline or the authorities.

I am now 6 months in their system and I am receiving the usual denial of responsibility letters from the airlines. So far so good.

However, it suddenly struck me that it could be possible that this is a perfect way to earn quite some money. The systems seems to be fully automatic and they keep you in the loop for quite some time. They state in the beginning this process could take up to 9 months to get paid.

I am suddenly afraid that after nine months they will come up with some technicality that make me no longer eligible for this compensation. My usual respons would possibly be: "whatever" and I would count my losses being only 25 Euros.

But if this is an expectable outcome, the system of these companies is quite profitable. After nine month nobody will complain because they just lost 25 Euros. A lot of 25 euro's still makes quite some profit and all it takes is knowing the required letters to sent and you have an effective template driven automatic system.

That airlines are hesitant in paying is predictable. If you are confident that you are eligible for compensation according to EU laws does it make sense to rely on companies to do the administration for you for a fee, or does it still take a case in court to get compensated?

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+50

To claim for delayed flights compensation in the EU under (EU rule 261/2004) should only cost the price of a stamp to your airline. You should not pay a 3rd party company to do this for you. There are some very helpful tips that are provided by Martin Lewis (The Money Saving Expert) in the UK which I followed and were successful in my claim. I presume it is the same process throughout the EU?

There are some key points you need to be aware of before you claim though:

  1. The rule is only for EU regulated flights. An EU flight is where the flight departed from an EU airport, regardless of the airline, OR where an EU airline landed at an EU airport. Under this law, EU airports also include those in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
  2. The ruling only goes back to flights from 2008 onwards when the rule came into affect. Apparently you can go back to 2005 but this has been proven harder to claim for.
  3. Delay must be the airlines fault. It must be something within their control. Weather, political unrest etc are not accepted.
  4. The delay must be over 3 hours to claim for compensation.
  5. The compensation is fixed to delay length and distance travelled on flight regardless of original flight cost. Martin Lewis provides a rough table to work out what could be owed to you.

The link above also provides more detail and includes some standard letters that you can use for your claim as well as helpful addresses to airlines and the EU regulation body for appeal. You are essentially claiming to your airline under EU rule 261/2004 and they will judge the claim on a claim by claim basis. If rejected you can appeal.

I imagine the companies you found that offer this service for 25 EU are just doing the same thing. They will take a percentage cut of any claim won and charge an admin fee of 25EU a time. My advice, stay away.

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    I am one year in the process and so far I have to disagree on doing it yourself, the airlines seem to be really reluctant and are doing everything in their power to not comply with the regulations. In my specific case, we are on to the next level and that is that company assigned a lawyer and the case is apparently being sent to court. I am still a bit sceptical, but there seems to be some activity. So for now I remain. – user141 Aug 28 '14 at 16:25
  • @andra from my experience of claim my delayed flight was June 2013 and I received compensation in October 2013. One letter sent to the airline. Cheque arrived in the post after email to say my claim has been successful. I agree it will probably depend on the airline. In your case I would hold out with it. But I would strongly recommend claiming yourself on a new case. It could not be any easier. – davidb Aug 29 '14 at 7:57
  • "To claim for delayed flights compensation in the EU under (EU rule 261/2004) should only cost the price of a stamp to your airline." - this is not really true, only for folks who don't value their time. It takes time to double-check the details, write/edit a letter, post it, etc. - and that assumes the airline pays up straight away. I requested compensation from BA once and they tried to dodge it, and needed chasing. I could imagine hypothetically that these companies could provide a useful middleman. – Andrew Ferrier Jan 11 '15 at 19:05
  • @andra did you receive your flight delay compensation? It has been 14 months now. – davidb Jun 22 '15 at 15:01
  • @davidb Just received confirmation last week, that they will pay half. Once that money is on my bankaccount, I will write an answer to this question. It seems some might come out of these companies, but whether it is effective, remains to be seen. Soon more.... – user141 Jun 22 '15 at 17:47

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